California’s Inland Empire lures more residents as more flee pricey coastal cities

Riverside and San Bernardino counties saw a 50 percent increase


California’s Inland Empire is getting more crowded.

In the biggest migration in the country’s most populous state, about a quarter of a million people moved east since the pandemic to the 27,000-square-mile stretch of the state that runs from the border of Los Angeles County to Arizona and Nevada, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Inland Empire tied Phoenix for the biggest gain in new households in 2020, the Journal reported, citing permanent change of address forms. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties had a 50 percent increase, while the Phoenix area’s migration gains shrank from 2019.

It’s a shift with big demographic implications: The state’s middle class has been increasingly moving to deserts and mountains, while coastal cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are increasingly home to the wealthy who can afford it and those too poor to leave, the Journal said.

“People say over and over again, ‘Oh, the millennials are going to stay in the cities.’ Doug Shepherd, a real-estate broker based in the city of Riverside told the Wall Street Journal. “They are not,”

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Many of the new inland residents, who still commute to jobs in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, say the longer drive is offset by more affordable homes and better schools. The pandemic made the choice easier for those who could work from home.

Median prices for single-family homes in Riverside County stand at $570,000, significantly less than the state’s median of $827,940 and well below San Francisco’s $1.85 million and $830,070 in Los Angeles.

“California is changing because of a desire of many millions of people to have something that looks like the conventional, traditional California Dream: a house on a lot in a neighborhood of similar houses on lots,” D.J. Waldie, a cultural historian told the Wall Street Journal.

More than 160,000 households left the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas after the pandemic. Although many relocated to Sacramento, the Inland Empire It gained more than 25,000 households in 2020, excluding immigration.

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[WSJ] — Victoria Pruitt