California’s Housing Bubble Counts on Blistering Population Growth, But it’s Fizzling

Los Angeles population drops, San Francisco & Silicon Valley population rises least since 2010, North Bay’s population drops.

The housing market in California with its sky-high home prices depends on blistering population growth. So here we go. The population of Los Angeles County, at 10.1 million, declined by about 13,200 people (-0.1%) in the 12 months through July 1, 2018, according to the Census Bureau’s new estimates. It was the second year in a row of year-over-year declines. The declines were still in the rounding-error neighborhood, but the swing from the prior yearly gains is a noticeable change in direction:

Is this the moment everyone has been waiting for – looking forward to it, given horrid congestion and housing costs; or dreading it given that home prices might come totally unglued if there aren’t enough people to sell these homes to – the moment when the population of Los Angeles, after years of blistering growth, begins to decline because people are finally doing what they have said in surveys they would do: Flee to other states?

Maybe some. Others might have moved across the county line.

In the other seven counties of the eight-county region of Southern California – Santa Barbara, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial – the population grew over the 12-month period by 77,200 folks. So for all of Southern California, the population grew by 64,000 to 22.74 million people. And this growth too has been dwindling:

In the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area a similar slowdown is taking place, divided up between six counties of slowing population growth, and the three counties in the North Bay, where the population declined in part due to the horrific wildfires that devastated part of the area in 2017 and left people homeless. The chart below shows the North Bay counties combined. The drop over the past two years reduced the population to where it had been in 2014:

Despite all the “feces and needles” on the sidewalks that are trotted out in the media everywhere, and despite the endless series of surveys that hammer home over and over again that a truly mind-blowing number of people are planning to most definitely or just perhaps finally and forever bail out of the Bay Area over the “next few years” (for example, 44% most recently) so that the Bay Area would just empty out – well, it’s not yet happening, but getting a step closer.

The population of Silicon Valley (the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara) and San Francisco combined grew by 9,000 people in the 12-month period through July 1, 2018, and it grew in all three counties, but it was the smallest growth since 2010 and about one-fifth of the growth rates between 2011 and 2015, which ranged between 45,000 to 51,000 a year:

In the two counties in the East Bay (Contra Costa, Alameda) and in Solano County (north east) a similar process has been taking place, at different speeds.

The net effect for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area is this: The population grew over the 12-month period to 7.75 million, but the growth rate of 21,400 people over the period was the slowest since 2010, and was one-fifth of the growth rates in 2013 and 2014:

The state of California’s population ticked up to 39.56 million, an increase of only 158,000 souls, the slowest increase since 2010, and less than half the increases between 2011 and 2015, with population growth coming to a crawl or outright declining in the most expensive coastal counties, and growing a bit faster inland:

So in comparison: Of the 100 fastest growing counties by population in the US, 27 are in Texas, 15 are in Georgia, 11 in Florida, 7 in Utah, 6 in Idaho, 5 in Virginia, 4 in South Carolina, 4 in North Carolina, 4 in Tennessee…. But none are in California.

Oh deary, where does this leave the housing market? The endless and sometimes blistering population growth has been held up as powerful reason why home prices can only surge in California. A population decline in some of the most expensive areas would put these housing markets in a heap of trouble.

In the coastal counties, home prices are already under pressure. Despite “the lowest interest rates in more than a year,” as the California Association of Realtors put it, the median house price in March fell in 12 of the 16 most expensive coastal counties compared to March last year – yup the same counties featured above. Read… House Prices in 12 of California’s Most Expensive Coastal Counties Fell in March from a Year Ago. Here are the Charts

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  112 comments for “California’s Housing Bubble Counts on Blistering Population Growth, But it’s Fizzling

  1. Chris Garbor says:

    On a positive note Seattle keeps growing. Hundreds of homeless, panhandlers, criminals and drug users moving to Seattle each month to keep Seattle strong and growing.

    • robt says:

      Despite the proliferation of shelters everywhere and endless amounts of money thrown at the ‘problem’, nothing seems to work … in a documentary about the homeless/drug problem, one of the politicians says with a straight face: ‘We’ve spent a billion dollars, but the problem seems to be getting worse’. Exactly. You bought it.
      The patsies who pay for it all and who get ignored and dumped on (literally) are moving out, and the cops who are told to stand down are demoralized, and are quitting. Not a bright future.

      • Chris Garbor says:

        Nowadays I try very hard to avoid going into Seattle for anything….restaurants, dr’s appts., shopping etc. Seattle has become so depressing and disgusting and getting worse each month. Seattle businesses starting to move nearby to Bellevue. Now Bellevue is the new Seattle. Sadly probably alot of the homeless will begin their migration to Bellevue and in about 10 years Bellevue too will be a sh*thole.

        Rhode Island is trying a program that incarcerates the homeless (95%+ in Seattle are drug users and lots are also criminals that steal to buy drugs….not down on luck people wanting a better life, just better drugs) with mandatory drug rehab. They claim a 93% success rate to avoid relapse. Seems too good to be true, but current Seattle attempts are an unmitigated failure and whatever RI is doing seems to be working.

        • Petunia says:

          Drug treatment in jails is another healthcare scam. Prisoners are mandated to take it or they land up doing more time. Taxpayers are paying for drug treatment for every single prisoner regardless of whether they are drug users or not. This is how they manipulate the drug user statistics. This has been going on since the 1980’s at least.

      • curiouscat says:

        It’s all a muddle ….

        “People respond to incentives [, all the rest is commentary.]” – taken from the book “The Armchair Economist”.

        When you throw birdseed you get pigeons.

        But… if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – John 3:17-18

        This is the quandary that will continue to worsen. If we incent behavior that discourages work and self respect, that’s what we will get – lack of work and self respect. If we don’t help the poor, we are cursed. What is the balance?

        Especially what is the minimum balance that will serve the self interest of the “haves”? Remember the French Revolution? Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

  2. Javert Chip says:

    What ever is happening, I hope emigrants from CA don’t bring their financial social disease (aka: taxes) with them.

    I retired in 2012 and moved from CA to FL (where I grew up); the monthly lease on my BMW dropped $45/month (San Mateo sales tax 10.5%, Brevard county 6%) – that’s $540/year AFTER TAX.

    I telecommuted for a few months to train my replacement (same gross salary both places); we won’t even discuss the difference in after-tax incomes

    Of course we don’t have a $10B train to nowhere, gang warfare in many of our cities; 37% of the US welfare cases; water shortages, poop on our city streets, or $4/gallon gas (FL right now is $2.55/gal). Different strokes for different folks (no Bob Kraft jokes, please).

    • Unamused says:

      You really should stop whining about taxes. You’re advertising your ignorance about what creates a society, elevates it, and maintains it – for your benefit. For the well-off to complain about taxes is merely to display a self-interested and ultimately self-destructive venality.

      Taxes provide governments with the resources needed to alleviate poverty, control crime, particularly the crimes of the rich, support infrastructure, and all the other things needed for prosperity, including the prosperity of the rich.

      The failure of the ability to collect taxes, particularly from the rich, virtually guarantees the demise of that society, including the rich.

      So do not complain about your taxes. Instead, do something about that corruption which causes your taxes to be wasted in ways which do not support the society which serves your interests and from which you have no hope at all of isolating yourself.

      It’s too late to prevent your most unhappy destiny anyway, but you could at the last demonstrate some nobility by at least trying at the finale. The end is near, and there is very little time.

      • 2banana says:

        High taxes don’t make for a better society.

        If it did, NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and all of New Jersey would be utopian societies. Instead, people are fleeing them.

        The vast majority of taxes today are used by politicians to buy votes and cement special interest support.

        Take school taxes. 2/3 of it goes to salaries, benefits and pensions. Practically nothing goes toward “the children.” Philadelphia spends over $20,000 per child per year with dismal results. Catholic schools, in the same neighborhoods and at 1/3 thr costs have dramatically better results.

        But teacher’s unions are some of the most powerful unions that exist. No democrat could be elected without their support.

        So poor teachers cannot be fired, failing schools cannot be changed, disruptive children cannot be disciplined and school choice is a fantasy.

        • Mike G says:

          There are 10 US states, all in the South, where teachers are not unionized. Eight of these are in the bottom-10 states for school performance.
          Could it be possible that factors other than unions contribute majorly to poor achievement?

        • 2GeekRnot2Geek says:


          Please don’t fall for the standard complaint of “teacher salaries”, etc.

          I can only speak for Philadelphia, but the 10 year tax abatement for new construction has turned into a winner for builders/owners and a loser for the school system.

          The current estimate is 61 million a year in lost revenue to the schools and 50 million to the city. For more than a decade.

          What this has led to is school buildings in lower income neighborhoods in need of serious repair.
          School supply drives for lower income neighborhood schools. And the supply drives are for basics. Pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc.

          The reason the Catholic schools do so much better is that the teachers do not make 1/2 the salary of their public school counterparts, and Nuns/Priests basically teach for free. The Archdiocese has been closing schools in poorer neighborhoods for the last 2 decades.

          In 2012 alone 48 Catholic schools were closed or consolidated in Philadelphia. As the population of nuns available to work for free ages out, paying teachers vs closing schools turns out to be better option than paying teachers for the Catholic church.

        • RangerOne says:

          Yet the high quality of many public schools in Dallas Texas are maintained through high property taxes.

          Taxes are clearly not a magic bullet. And its is far too easy to waste the money.

          Most people who hate taxes end up doing so not because the taxes are inherently bad. But because they dont trust the government yo properly use that money. Which is a valid complaint in many cases.

        • REV GJ says:

          California has destroyed its once good school system..high taxation is to support more public employees…and a one party state is all about corruption, nobody minding the store.

        • Paulo says:

          Typical uniformed comment on teaching and taxes. Here is a little bit more information on the subjects.

          1) If their union was so powerful they (teachers) wouldn’t be paid such sh$t wages. Teaching is a mediocre 2nd income at best, especially in the States….all states.

          2) In the US, administrators make almost double teaching wages, and they have more per capita admin staff than other countries.

          3) Poor teachers can definitely ‘be fired’, and there is formal evaluation to keep teaching certification. However, there is a ‘process’ to discipline and termination. Often, Administration simply fails to do their job as managers. They are poor managers because of this. It is extra work to discipline and terminate.

          4) There is a myth that admin are ‘master teachers’ because they are admin, and therefore capable of deciding best teaching practices. In actual fact, most often the opposite is true. Is a coach the best athlete? Is an industrial manager the most knowledgeable person on the shop floor? Not often!

          5) Yes, most funding does go to wages and benefits. That is because almost everything else has already been cut. Fact. In the States, often the highest paid teachers are sports coaches. We have no paid coaching staff in Canada and teams usually pay for their sports by fundraising.

          6) I doubt $20,000 per child goes to fund education in the cities mentioned. In BC, where I used to teach, I made 30% more salary than my Seattle teacher sister. (Kirkland). The funding rate for BC students, province wide, is approx $8,650 per student. 2019. With a Masters degree I earned approx $85,000 per year, 6 years ago teaching trades as I am also a ticketed carpenter, and ex hatchery technician (foreman). I also taught aviation ground school when necessary. Subjects taught by my contract were: CAD, Electronics, Carpentry, Metalwork/fab, and occasionally Mechanics (automotive). (Yes, I was trained in all these subjects at BCIT, plus work experience.) My electrician son, age 35, earns 200K + per year working the same hours. (2.5X more than what I earned. He is in an industrial/private union….Unifor, and works for a private company)

          7) Catholic schools are private schools and are not required to enroll whoever applies. Public schools have to take them all. It is always apples and oranges to compare public/private systems. Always.

          8) Teachers are not in charge of discipline and consequences. Administrators are, as well as school boards. They guard this ‘right’ jealously as disciplining a student is a political can of worms when dealing with enabling or forceful parents. When I taught I had very few discipline problems because I ran my classes like a friendly job site. My principals ALWAYS backed me up when I removed students and/or failed them due to cause, because I did my own discipline and caused no one any problems in the process. The quote I used was, “I kill my own snakes”, and as long as the tees were crossed and I had documentation I was allowed to run my own ship as I saw fit. Teaching trades I always had the ‘safety’ card to play and this was my leverage. This is not the case for classroom teachers. They have no leverage. Adminstrators were afraid to influence my practice because I would just shut off the power and shut down the program and there was no one to take over. Liability is a big stick. In the States, most trades programs were shuttered over 20 years ago and the bulk of all funding now goes to university prep courses. (Talk about flogging a dead/corrupt horse with taxpayer dollars!!)

          9) Teacher pay based on outcomes/grades: Often, and almost always, the BEST teachers are given the hardest students and classes to teach, because they can succeed when/where weaker teachers cannot.. However, if the results were based on academic achievements or seniority it can be misleading for the public. Often scripted academic subjects have the highest grade results due to the ‘clientele.’ As is often said, “We do as good as the students we are given”.

          10) Taxation….Also, in the States most funding is local and has to be done by local tax initiatives. Where I live, almost all education funding is based on a portion of the province-wide property taxes and it is capped. In the States, a wealthy school district and school receives more money from taxpayers and has better facilities and resources as a result. Poorer districts have the opposite situation and must rely on top-ups when available. It is counter-intuitive. The wealthier homes already have upper level ‘stuff’, (books, computers etc) including family motivation. The poorer districts have less of everything so they continually fall behind. In BC, students in the toney British Properties or Pt Grey receive the same funding as students in the lower east side Vancouver or Whalley (think rough neighbourhoods and lots of poverty). Kind of socialist, isn’t it? :-)

          I hope this provides a bit of an explanation about how education and funding works, or doesn’t work as advertised.

          “The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) basically the club for rich countries, has developed a comparative test for high school students at 15 years of age which measures student achievement across countries. It can be found here –… . Students are assessed for their accomplishments in science, reading and mathematics.

          As you can see from the results, the aggregate ranking for Canadian students is 7th best in the world; the aggregate ranking for students from the United States was 25th place.”

          respectfully, Paul S

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          “1) If their union was so powerful they (teachers) wouldn’t be paid such sh$t wages.”

          LOL. Teachers in CA make $100K a year when taking into account benefits. With 3-4 month vacations. And they retire at 55 with a full pension.

        • Ed says:

          Rev – Teacher unions have perpetuated a myth that teacher salaries are very poor across the board. After researching school districts for my kids this year I’ve come to realize that teachers in good school districts make a killing. Every single elementary school I’ve looked at the median teacher salary is between $80K-$120K for 9 months of work. Imagine working 9 months per year with a ton of build in holidays/vacation days and summers off. After 5-10 years, you are banking north of $120K to teach kids the alphabet and how to add and subtract.

        • RangnarD says:

          @mike g
          Private school teachers are by and large not unionized.

          As earlier poster wrote
          “You bought it”

          Clearly in High tax states with low performing public schools, the state has bought that quality of service at that high price. What’s ur solution then?

          Many taxes such as for schools assume the public is too ignorant to buy quality free market education.

          But that In it self is an assumption.
          When I was complaining to my cousin who is a fireman in New York city, about the quality of service on the subways, he said that “ But you’re not the customer”. The customer is the teacher/admin and the pensioners.

      • California Bob says:

        Well said. Taxes are the price you pay to live in a civilized society, but too many think it’s an affront (only the ‘little people’ pay taxes). I just sent over $320K to the IRS and CA, and I do wish I could specify that it not go to hurricane/fire/rising sea levels/invasive species/etc. relief in Florida. That’s only fair because I don’t live in Florida, right Javert?

        • steppenwolf says:


        • joe saba says:

          keep paying and YES we will spend it in all ways you do not want
          you deserve your mexifornia life style

        • Paulo says:

          Meant to say…uninformed…This gosh darn auto mental correct function. Need an edit key today.

        • Ed says:

          Lol at the guy complaining about the taxes on his BMW lease.

          “I have access to perfect weather,
          beautiful scenery,
          5% annualized price appreciation on my real estate with ridiculously low tax rate,
          access to countless extremely high paying jobs,
          but this $50 in tax on my leased luxury vehicle is really putting me over the edge. Time to move to Florida so I can save $50 on luxury vehicle tax and pay tens of thousands a year in home insurance. Brilliant!

      • Andy says:

        He’s talking about being a tax payer, not a tax recipient!

      • Too amused says:

        He’s not “whining” about taxes. He’s winning on taxes. He’s not complaining about “his” taxes, rather quite the contrary. And he did do something about the waste—he moved away from it. Sounds like he found his happy destiny in Florida.

      • steppenwolf says:

        Thank you!

      • Cynic says:

        Granted that a complex industrial economy does require extensive taxation, it all depends on who collects the taxes, and how they are used doesn’t it?

        Earlier civilisations were of course very good at collecting taxes – with varying results.

        Rome? Excellent infrastructure, some of it still stands, law and order (once that regrettable conquest thing was over and done with). Strong property rights, too, although civil liberties questionable. And don’t look at the Emperor the wrong way…

        The Ottomans? Again, very strong taxation -in kind too, they take a child or two if you didn’t have the cash – but very poor infrastructure development and absolutely no property rights worth the paper they were written on – result progressive decline and ultimate failure in the 19th century. As for civil liberties, an unknown concept in that culture.

        Heavy taxation combined with misdirection of the proceeds can also demonstrably create high crime areas, permanent welfare dependents, social and economic disfunction on a disastrous scale: failed cities, failed counties and even pretty screwed up countries. So, high taxes can in fact be the price one pays to live in a very uncivilised country.

        As for the horrible crimes of the ghastly rich, I’ll take those over street crime and house raids by the ‘marginalised and misunderstood’ etc, any day, thank you very much. The crimes of the rich are the very last things to keep me awake at night.

        • jsm976 says:

          So you prefer death by a thousand cuts that you don’t see coming versus a crazy man with a hammer. Noted.

      • Tom says:

        I have had to work with local, state, and federal govt. for over 30 yrs.

        Have testified, and attended meetings, called, and written, trying
        to eliminate some of the red tape and waste.

        I could fill volumes on the waste at the public sector.
        Is there corruption? Yes! Those big contractors & engineering
        companies don’t donate $$$ out of the goodness of their heart.

        But its also the “process ” that each agency develops over time.
        And this creates the greatest amount of waste in the public sector.

        I have fought it for decades. Best of luck changing it.

        And Javert, I believe you have a great destiny!!

      • wkevinw says:

        Just taxing 100% of income would finally create this utopia I keep hearing about, I guess.

        As with anything, there is an optimum for taxation that supports certain necessary government services. Highest priority are “uniformed” jobs. Schools are open to discussion, as a mix of good public and private schools has proven in many cases to be the best formula for success.

        How about those taxes for the train to nowhere. No thanks.

        The “corruption” that causes taxes to be too high and inefficiently deployed is exactly because of the monopoly power of government. This corruption is a feature, not a bug.

        • Bankers says:

          “Just taxing 100% of income would finally create this utopia I keep hearing about, I guess.”

          Right on, then people would never have to be taxed again, and they would make well sure of that.

        • Unamused says:

          But wkevinw, if nobody pays taxes, who’s going to pay for your corporate welfare? How are you going to profit from government corruption?

          Really, you must learn to think these things through.

          Besides, dozens of the biggest US corporations pay no tax at all, and it’s easy to surmise you run at least one of them. Tax evasion is practically legal for thousands of people because the IRS lacks the resources to investigate the rich, and if they bothered to try, you can fight the subpoenae forever.

          Remember, taxes are for little people. It’s federal policy now.

      • Mike says:

        Taxes?! If you read the Constitution, it states that this Country, this government, is (was) to be funded by Tariffs, Duties and Fees, NOT TAXES!!!!
        In 2016, the median income in the U.S. was less than $32,000! That means that 50% of the population earned less than $32,000 and 50% earned more, but only 5.9% of the population earned over $100,000!
        In San Francisco, $117,000 is considered LOW INCOME! The same principle holds for Seattle, Chicago, New York and a few more.
        Government is not supposed to `take care’ of the citizens, the citizens are supposed to take care of themselves, government is only supposed to maintain the infrastructure of the Country, not hold our hands and walk us to school or wipe our little butts!

      • LessonIsNeverTry says:

        “So do not complain about your taxes. ” – You’re not the boss of me!!!

        Most of us fight wasteful taxation in the best way possible, thanks to our state and county system. We move to a region that best aligns our interests with the prevailing taxation structure and politics of that region. For many of us that involves no state income tax.

        The rest of your comment is pure patronizing opinion.

      • robt says:

        The government spends money at 10% efficiency, and as the famous philosopher Ringo Starr said:
        Everything the government touches turns to sh*t.
        Anyway, society and the economy flourishes in spite of the government, not because of it. At some point, the creators of wealth are overwhelmed, just give up from exhaustion, flee, and the whole rotten mess collapses in a miasma of entitlements, insolvent pension funds, and chaos, leaving the bureaucrats to blame everyone else.

      • yerfej says:

        What creates a society? People who work together as a group and not for themselves. You would have to be lying to yourself to not acknowledge that Cal. government exists for itself. People are individuals not just part of one giant blob.

        • Jacob says:

          Having lived in WA, OR, CA, LA, NY, FL, CO and TX (most recently Marin Cty), we picked up and moved our company to Puerto Rico. You laugh, we did go when it was suggested to us. But we were paying everything to taxes (went to Bay for talent). Act 20/22 works for many business owners and while Puerto Rico is far from perfect, so is Palo Alto and every other utopian town (Seattle, what happened to you???) We are in year 2 of Pay 4% taxes. The others who are here for the Act 20/22 (not including crypto people who blew some parts up like the Silicon Valley but can’t hang driving their Tesla’s on roads with pot holes), we have a pretty amazing community here. We are parents to three teens and they are in a school that is far superior to the Palo Alto they were in (infested with unhealthy competition and drugs). I used to be pro-paying taxes and I still am, but not at the cost of being on the hamster wheel…for a lifetime. Here in Dorado, Puerto Rico, we are living a pretty nice life and my tax bill, which two years ago was $712K was a small fraction of this. We are a much happier community down here, even if there are potholes (we just flew back with our neighbor on his plane from the Dominican Rebublic and geez, they have nice roads).

      • FluffyGato says:

        Tell me how those high taxes have been working out in NY, CA, IL, NJ, CT etc.

        I’ll wait patiently.

    • Dale says:

      I toyed with the idea of buying a BMW. I could easily buy one 100 times over. But when I found out that BMW and Mercedes are last in terms of reliability, I decided to look elsewhere.

      Bad cars. Why are they so popular?

      • Wolf Richter says:


        Not sure your data is universal. I owned two 5-series (a 1999 540 and and a 2003 530). Beautiful cars, sweet ride, never had a problem with them. That said, I only owned each of them for a few years and didn’t put a lot of miles on them. But I sold the 530 to my brother, and he still has it and still loves it. So, it’s not a terrible car. But this is a sample with a sample size of n=2. Not very reliable :-]

        • Chemdude says:

          Wolf, you bought in the sweet spot of BMW durability/reliability! I had an ‘11 E90 335d for 3.5 years that BMW bought back under California lemon law — it spent 5 months in the shop, new injectors twice, new cylinder head, etc. They nearly rebuilt the entire engine (duct-tape EPA compliance of an otherwise reliable/durable car in the Euro market). All of this occurred despite following the BMWCCA “old school” maintenance schedule. All said, the car was a blast to drive and the last of the 3-series to have hydraulic steering.

        • wkevinw says:

          I’ve never done a thorough study, but as a member of a “car family” (been wrenching on cars since the ’30’s), they always seem a bit “over engineered”, over priced, suffer from the usual “lack of quality” from specialized, semi-hand made mechanical products”. My buddy had one of the small ones (roadster/sports car?), that sucked a small fastener from the air intake all the way through the engine. New engine…. at many 10’s of thousands of dollars. I have several similar anecdotes.

          It’s fine as a fun toy, but as what “American” car people like: heavy iron with lots of tough road warrior manners? Not really.

        • RagnarD says:

          At the BMW dealer in Cincinnati, when I brought my car in for a repair, I was greeted by pretty young lady in a lab coat….that was her uniform. Meaning they wanted justify high repair costs
          Via a surgical/ scientific patina.

        • Dale says:

          Wolf, I’m glad your experience has been positive.

          I’m going by statistics offered by repairpal (, which purports to have data from actual repair records. BMW suffers from having a high average rate of unscheduled maintenance and a high average cost of repairs. As with any data source, we cannot be sure how much to trust repairpal, but my friends with BMWs have regretted the decision. In any case, according to repairpal, the most reliable vehicles are made in South Korea, followed by Japan, then the US, and then Europe. (These stats are for vehicle brands, repairpal has stats for individual models as well.)

          I happy that your experiences have been good, and it may be that chemdude is correct that BMW had a quality peak. It has been my experience as well that some vehicles are just better than others of the same model.

      • MC01 says:

        I let my CFO convince myself to buy 3-series and Mini’s as company cars a few years back. Never again.
        Besides the frankly shockingly poor reliability, running costs are through the roof, especially for the Mini, chiefly because maintenance contracts are pretty poor and warranty coverage spotty. You’d expect that with French cars, not BMWs.

        Now I replaced them all with Toyota hybrids. In two years the only problems I’ve had were a broken trunk handle and a blown shock absorber, intriguingly on the same car. Both were solved under warranty, albeit it took a full ten working days for the spare shock absorber to arrive. Maintenance contracts, differently from BMW, are truly all-inclusive. Running costs are ridiculously cheap, apart from insurance. And that’s in spite of all the safety features these cars have such as auto-braking.

        And as an owner of BMW motorcycles let me tell you when I was told “Be grateful the bikes are not designed and manufactured by the same people who design and manufacture the car” I had no idea how right this person was… it’s a completely different world. Even batteries will be replaced under warranty on a strict no questions asked basis and the water-cooled boxers really brought things into another level when it came to running costs and performances.

      • Broker Dan says:

        Bc people pay top dollar for the label/status.

        Not for reliability
        Not for safety
        But for the ability to tell others they have a Beemer or Benz.

        And I own (free n clear) a 2010 Benz.
        Originally leased it and planned to upgrade to something higher up, but grew up financially and ended by buying it out (got a great deal) and am happy having no car payment.

        I would like to have an electric car simply for the carpool advantage, but, that alone is not enough for me as my friends all have 500-1k per month payments and I’m at $0.

        It’s nice…

    • jerry says:

      California ranks 10th on the list of highest tax burden states.

    • ooe says:

      CA’s economy is larger than FLA. Also, FLA has problems. the gov’t has few services, and it has a higher uninsured rate. Please remember FLA was one of the epicenters of the housing bubble, and it receives a lot largesse from the Federal govt, which includes Social Security payments and Medicare payments-think retirees.

      more important CA’s per capita income is $ 63783, and FLA is $ 29838.
      Lastly, southern FLA will be inundated due to Global Warming which will mean 7 million Floridians moving to the Midwest by the end of the Century.

      • wkevinw says:

        CA: bottom 10 in public grade school and high schools (when I attended them they were in the top 5)
        CA: largest percentage of people live in poverty (when adjusted for cost of living)

        It’s hard to give a place like that good reviews, no matter what the other stats might be.

    • MCH says:

      Yeah… but we don’t get hurricanes every year. So, there is that. Besides, CA has to level the playing field for the other states somehow. If we got rid of our “progressive tax structures,” “insane infrastructure ideas,” or heaven forbid “Prop 13,” and our taxes on business. We might end up owning the US economy.

      How fair would that be to FL, or TX, or WA, or any of those other states.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Long time viewer, never a poster. I am a recent “relocator” from San Jose, Ca to Boise Idaho. I think that CA is looking at some headwinds. It works well when folks are making a sh-t pot of money. Less so when they are middle class.

    We left because property taxes were too high, ditto with income taxes. And, frankly, I was REALLY worried about the Pension commitments. This will suck the State down.

    As long as we are all in this together, it’s good. ‘Cept I am not in this with you all. I voted with my feet, after trying so hard to get some changes made,

    I wish you all the best. Cynthia

    • Too amused says:

      Hey Cynthia we did the same but from LA to Southern Nevada. Also was concerned about getting burned by the commitments and entitlements in CA.

  4. 2banana says:

    Can an illegal strawberry picker afford a $500,000 house?

    • Unamused says:

      Bettering your example, he could take your place and put you in his.

    • vinyl1 says:

      Actually, during the subprime bubble, Washington Mutual gave a strawberry picker making $15 an hour a $750K mortgage with no money down.

      I don’t think that would fly today, though.

        • HowNow says:

          Great link, qt. Frightening. How do well-intended government programs pave the road to hell so often? Why is it so easy to game the basic rules with the 2008 collapse still in the rear view mirror?

        • Broker Dan says:

          While that article is fairly accurate, bear in mind these people need to qualify based on income.

          The lower FICO borrowers must have more income or lower debt to income ratios.

          Some of these FHA loans may be dicey, but, at least they are based on income/employment standards, unlike the times leasing up to 2008. Big difference

        • Broker Dan says:

          By the way, this was laughable! Nobody making 500k is going to have a lambo. That’s ridic

          “Christian, as one of American Financial Network’s top-producing branch managers this year, could make up to $500,000, according to COO Gwin. Christian says he thinks he can pull down twice that.”

          “Christian says he has a Lamborghini on order to go with his Mercedes.”

        • Broker Dan says:

          Interesting. On Friday HUD issued a mortgagee letter basically hammering these down payment assistance programs/entities.

          I got emails from a couple lenders today stating they are discontinuing the program.

  5. Lion says:

    When I read of the population numbers for Southern California, I’m amazed at where and how the state is continuing to get water for the people living here. We’ve had a couple good rainy seasons recently, but someday the tap must close again. Those with money will find a way to get water, like they did the last dry spell. But for the rest of us ?

    Maybe Wolf will need to include a drought index to his charts…………….

    • polecat says:

      Might want a chart that goes back a few centuries … showing the occasional drought that lasts decades .. or longer !
      Even the wealthly can’t mitigate THAT kind of scenario ..

  6. Unamused says:

    Easy exploitation prefers an expanding population. The example of Scandinavia and Switzerland, at least, show that quality of life does not depend on a having a large and expanding population. Billionaires are unnecessary and undesirable for a long list of reasons.

    Quality over quantity is something most Americans have been weaseled into comprehending as poorly as its remaining vestiges of social morality.

    • Too amused says:

      Meh, the QOL in those countries is often overstated and backed-up by subjective “studies”. The hills and mountains of Switzerland are beautiful but provincial. Many of the cities are crowded and just… drab to live in. Scandinavia has a high suicide rate.

      • Cynic says:

        Like Salzburg: so beautiful, but I feel like putting a gun to my head after 48 hours there.

        If one is going to live provincially, the South is generally more agreeable.

        Much trouble looms for Scandinavia: current prosperity is merely the afterglow…..

        • jsm976 says:

          To each their own I suppose. The South is a cultural wasteland and the humidity and continuing racial segregation/strife is disgusting.

          Salzburg is a tourist trap in Austria if you weren’t aware when you visited and hardly gives you insight into life in Switzerland or Scandinavia.

    • Michael Fiorillo says:

      The Great Lakes cities shall rise again: ample water, milder (if still tough) winters, and infrastructure already in place. All those empty lots in Rust Belt cities will fill in again – water, gas, electric and mass transit systems laid down decades ago – as the Southwest heats, up, dries out and becomes increasingly unlivable.

  7. timbers says:

    “The housing market in California with its sky-high home prices depends on blistering population growth…”

    I take issue with that.

    The housing market in California with its sky high prices depends on Supra Ultra Dove Deluxe Powell throwing liquidity at Super Ultra Dove Deluxe levels at assets.

    The fact is, the asset called real estate is rising overall all. In good part because Super Ultra Dove Deluxe Powell is throwing liquidity at it.

  8. B. Kold says:

    I live in the North Bay. I’ve been to every state in the country (except Alaska), and I can tell you there is no place more beautiful – Mt. Tam, the hiking trails, Muir Woods, the beaches, Richardson Bay – in the country WITH easy access to good, high-paying jobs, great restaurants and culture. Oh yeah, and we get about 200 days of sunny days between 65-75 degrees a year, and even the 50 days or so when it gets really hot it’s not humid. Not to mention the country’s best state university system AND legal weed! Parts of Florida are very nice, but it’s hellishly hot and humid 6 months out of the year. There’s a reason people pay a lot to live in California.

    • IdahoPotato says:

      “WITH easy access to good, high-paying jobs”

      It’s hilarious how many ex-Californians who can afford a lavish lifestyle because of living and earning in CA move to another state and start telling you what a hellhole CA is. I live in Boise (after living and working in Silicon Valley) which is flooded by such folks. One person I recently met is a cop on his CA pension moaning about CA taxes and socialism. Duh.

      That said, I don’t have to drive 3 hours in traffic to be in the mountains or enjoy scenic beauty. It is all around me.

      • Paulo says:

        We left California 51 years ago, so have you beat on that one. :-) I was 12. I am looking out the window, right now, at the beautiful Salmon River on east Vancouver Island. We have to feed the hummingbirds 6 litres per day and open the green house doors wide as it is so hot and sunny. Nature? Have to lock gates every night to keep the elk out. I asked my son last week how it feels to be a trend setter? It’s pretty okay. Mountains all around and fishing 60′ from my computer. Low taxes, too. Rural. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the tax elbow).

      • B. Kold says:

        I can walk 15 minutes to get to a redwood forest, with incredible views of the Pacific and SF – or drive 15 minutes to get to Muir Beach or Muir Woods. Or I can sit in my yard and enjoy the sunshine, orchards, ferns, lillies, butterflies and hummingbirds. A commute to Silicon Valley can be hellish – but if you can avoid it (I work from home), it ain’t so bad here…

        • Sailesh Kumar says:

          Clearly you are lying. I also live here in Bay Area. Muir woods is packed with people and you will spend 2 hours to find parking. Highways are congested. Beach in Santa Cruz is full with people, no place to relax peacefully. Water is too cold to get in. I am not really sure what CA brings on the table with over population, congested roads, shitty people (aggressive as hell), no parking, sardine packed houses, over hyped nature (too many people in anything natural and beautiful ruins it).

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Sailesh Kumar,

          Let me correct at least one of your statements that is factually wrong: “Water is too cold to get in.”

          I swim about 5 times a week in the Bay year-round, and I’m not the only moron to do so: I belong to one of two swim clubs adjacent to Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco. Between the two clubs, they have about 3,000 morons like me. We swim without wet suit. You’re correct, the water can get cold — the coldest I swam in was 48 degrees F. If you stay in too long, you get hypothermia. So you learn how to get in and overcome the “cold shock” and then you learn how long you can stay in without dying of hypothermia. After that, once you get out of the sauna, you’re on the cheapest and best high there is, and it lasts for hours.

  9. John lauterbach says:

    I think you may underestimate the changes in the financial complexion with those that stay and those that leave. And those that enter the State, too. A ” difficulty ” for investors ( developers ) to enter the State makes other states opportunities more intriguing . Your position of that this is a ” population consideration ” may go for and against your argument . Though it is a worthy discussion to have.

  10. SocalJim says:

    They are building 10s of thousands of apartment units in LA and OC. They fill immediately. There is no way the population is falling while massive new apartments are filling as fast as they put them up. And, rents are rising 6% per year. The falling population story is FALSE.

    • JZ says:

      I did NOT read Wolf’s article. I searched down expecting SoCalJim to reply”But along LA coast line where houses are at or below 2 million there is NO way the population is shrinking!”. But here it is,”Wolf’s data/story is FALSE!”. I can NOT say agree with Wolf’s opinions all the time but I do believe Wolf is fact/data based as much as he could..

      • Wolf Richter says:

        The numbers are Census Bureau estimates. The Census Bureau will certainly revise the data in the future. It always does. This year, it revised downward LA’s 2017 small population gain to a small population decline, which you can see in the chart (2017) — which shows that revisions can go in both directions.

        The key is not the absolute numbers, but the trends. And the trends are now becoming clearer.

        • JZ says:

          To SoCalJim, the trend for the past is price of housesmoving up,now it is rent moving up. Also nowhere in the universe beats LA realestate market. That’s the trend.

        • wkevinw says:

          Also, to my knowledge over many decades the largest contribution to the population is low income (other countries) immigrants; and immigrants who are not so low income. It probably cycles a bit, but over many decades that I am personally aware of, this sure seems to show up in real life as I experienced it there.

          As time goes on, it seems many of my friends and family have left- from all income strata.

          Anecdote- I have a few relatives in SoCal doing the show biz thing (actors in big movies even- bit parts), production, etc.

          They are lower middle income.

    • Broker Dan says:

      I just drove by John Wayne Airport in OC today, and there are at least 10-12 newly finished or under construction buildings in one small sector there.

      Hundreds or thousands of housing units coming, probably “luxury apartments”.

      The demand must be there, one would assume.

  11. “I’ve never been to san Fransisco, and I don’t like sports but The San Fransisco 49ers, are called that for a reason…
    I’ve heard a few great things about San Fran…
    1: I heard you can ride a bicycle over the Golden gate bridge to a beautiful town called solsilito… I hope I spelt that correctly…
    2: I also heard that there are always 2 painters painting the golden gate bridge at the same time and that when they finish they start all over again… It sounds beautiful… I love your writing and analysis Wolf! from upstate New York Thank you… I would love to listen to your book if it was available as an audiobook as I am disabled and cannot read… Have a great Easter everyone!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I know a now retired painter of the Bay Bridge. That’s exactly what he did his entire career, paint the Bay Bridge’s western span (suspension bridge) from end to end, over and over again. In terms of views, bridge painter in SF must be one of the most spectacular jobs to have. But it’s a tough job — very physical, exposed to the bridge weather, chemicals, fumes, etc. all day.

      But there are more than just two painters. There are dozens of them per bridge.

  12. Art says:

    Not surprising. I’m working on selling my valuables to fund moving out of this overtaxed, overpriced, over-regulated sanctuary state myself.

    • SocalJim says:

      I always tell my wife that if I could not afford to live in a high end Socal beach community, I would leave the state. Before you leave, you should give the beach a shot.

      • LessonIsNeverTry says:

        This is good advice. We did Santa Barbara. Amazing place to live. We decide to move out of state anyway but may go back to SB one day. The coastal corridor of CA is difficult to beat.

      • Art says:

        I have lived on the north bay area coast all my life.

  13. InTheSticks says:

    Illinois makes California look like a panacea… least there is a nice view! And we absolutely have the corner on state wide corruption! And yes, there has to be appropriate taxation for a civilized society to function, but those taxes must be implemented in such a fashion that you don’t drive the businesses out of the state that are supporting your infrastructure!! This state’s (Illinois) goose is cooked. We will be out within 18 months, depriving the state of our income tax bill, outrageous zoning laws and fees, elevated county taxes, INSANE real estate taxes, and 4% of my estate when I exit this world. For that, I will be proud to call myself a Hoosier!!

    • LessonIsNeverTry says:

      Everyone who possibly can should do this. Vote with your feet and your dollars. It is the ONLY thing politicians will listen to (in massive aggregate of course).

  14. Ca has always had a quasi boutique economy. If it gets too rich, move. I know some people who have; Tx has something? These people take their “cerulean” values, and voting record, to “crimson” states? 45’s promise/threat to locate refugees in “royal” sanctuary cities, has some appeal economically and politically. It is a service economy stimulus package. Ca should welcome these people, win win. Pardon me for trying to game Wolf’s algos. :)

  15. Gross Long says:

    CA is already past the unicorn boom. Smart money is cashing out, leaving shareholders holding the bag. The recession that’s already begun will crush the stock market and pop the tech 2.0 bubble. Real estate prices will follow. Been there, done that.

  16. Mrs says:

    Sorry peeps but there’s no bubble in the Bay Area. The transactions are tiny relative to the number of “potential” residences causing Minor fluctuations to create dramatic moves in the numbers. For every person that can afford the median home, there are 90 others that want to purchase a home. And the supply is relatively stagnant based on regulations et al. These two factors alone creates a floor on prices.
    The only way this changes is if there’s an event that causes employment rates to drop dramatically and/or an event which compels long time home owners to sell (likely both will be needed to normalize prices).

    If any of you can predict what and when then enlighten us.

  17. Lenz says:

    If you truly wanted to keep this ponzi going.

    Import as many central american immigrants as possible, set up a system to give them licenses and allow for easy access to car rental and uber eats/ uber/yft jobs. The GPS handles most of the directional issues with language barrier. The upgrade in quality of life vs Guatemala, Honduras etc to name a few would make them extremely optimistic, highly fertile and spenders (in a lower bracket of course).

    That way you knock two birds with one stone. Increase tax revenue with higher demographics by providing minimum wage equivalent jobs and also support the declining auto industry since a lot of these drivers rent new cars to get higher reviews. And its a small status thing as well. Have you seen a BMW m4 with an Uber sign on it? I know i have here in LA =)

    Personally, i don’t think CA will shed too many people in number terms, but they will shed middle and upper middle class population and replace it with low payed, under skilled immigrants. Imagine a typical wolfstreet tuesday meeting attendee, or a retired couple moving out of the state to a lower cost state, their house bought by fresh off the boat, or first generation immigrants, split in smaller room and housing now maybe a family of 6-to-8 (mutligenerational living like in the old country, their tradition respects the elderly) or maybe rented to the freshly arrived caravan that way you can probably pack 12-14 of them in the same quarters..

    Its just a demographics switch. Maybe Texas / Florida in the future will be viewed in the same positive shade that California is today.

    Ps. Wolf, a meeting in mid week? Would have loved to attend but us millennial aren’t ready to retire yet =] Hopefully next time.

  18. victor says:

    I am visiting Seattle at this moment. I have been here maybe 15 times in my life. I was born and raised in San Francisco, and although I can see the similarities in gentrification it is well behind San Francisco. You still have middle of the road people in Seattle at the moment which I find appealing and make the weather of Seattle become less of a consideration. Right now being more of tourist than living here I would rate Seattle as a much more appealing place to live Bay Area too expensive, congested and dog eat dog. Seattle has these things but a few steps less intense.
    This opinion is based on this being my third year in a row of being in Seattle for over a month.

  19. Rowen says:

    My friend’s parents both left the Bay for a retirement in Reno. Of course, they stated that high taxes were the reason. The irony is that they’re both DoC pensioners (she was a nurse, he was a CO) who will make close to 200K/year for the rest of the lives….

    thanks to California taxpayers. State pensions should be reduced by the state tax if the pensioner chooses to flee the state.

  20. Gian says:

    I have a lot of friends and relatives in So Cal and they all have one thing in common, they want to get the hell out. Why you ask? Taxes, unrelenting, ever rising, never ending and budget busting theft. If you naively believe that taxes are needed to fund the infrastructure, you have never been to CA, where cities are in decay and roads are reminiscent of cobblestone byways. Meanwhile, public servants are showered with weeks of vacation and holiday pay, lavish benefits and unsustainable retirement packages.

    • wkevinw says:

      Yep- compared to several decades ago, last time I was in SoCal- a couple of years ago, the vaunted freeways (interstates and state highways!) were in disrepair. The drought forced them to stop irrigating the roadsides (which used to be wonderful!)

      People there now who have come from elsewhere have missed the good part. Probably the 50’s-~80’s were the prime, but beginning in the ’70’s the bloom was starting to come off the rose.

      50’s and 60’s SoCal: cheap car, convertible, inexpensive to drive and maintain (nice temps, low rain). Nice beaches to go to and socialize with your friends. Safe cities, where you could get an all day bus ticket from 25c to $1 and go anywhere. Movie stars. Good economy. Maybe the top of human existence for average joes?

      • Terry says:

        Your perspective is based on how you experienced it as a man with access to the best aspects of that economy. But let’s review that generations impact on that period of California’s history:

        – heavy pollution – brown skies
        – race riots
        – chauvinism across all aspects of society and economy
        – poor water management and waste water treatment
        – declining middle class
        – soaring inflation in 60s
        – soaring taxes , why prop 13 came about
        – sprawl based economy, 50/60s car culture created the problems.
        – police brutality towards minorities
        – cigarette smoke everywhere, lack of concern for second hand
        – destruction of environment and habitats

        Yes your 50/60s was to blame for all the challenges that face California today. The worst of it now being addressed by the 00/10s community of Californians that realize your generation made tragically bad decisions that have impacted us today and wel into the future.

        Hopefully your generation isn’t busy screwing up other regions of the world as you did with California in 50/60s… I’m tired of hearing Boomers whine about the problems they are directly responsible for. Millennials and Xers were not alive in the 50/60/70s so let’s focus on who was alive back then that inflicted the damage.

        • victor says:

          I think a big component of the quality of life issues but not the only one is :

          1970 -> 19 million people in California

          2019 -> 39 million people in California

          just getting too crowded, to handle this kind of population size you would need really good policies to keep that kind of care free life style. Include US economy not as dominant before and you have big mess that people want to get away from.

        • wkevinw says:

          Terry, I’m sure you know that virtually all but one of the items you are so concerned about were not at all unique to California. If anything, most of the racial stuff was much worse in other parts of the US at that time (sshhh- Don’ remind people that Boston had some of the worst school integration riots anywhere in the country, even with their open minded superiority and all.)

          Poor water management for sure, but wastewater treatment is as good as anywhere else. (I work in that field, fyi). Some entities/corporations and smaller businesses definitely did some horrible stuff- mostly fraud.

          The car culture did create some problems for sure, but it “created the problems..”. In NoCal too? where there was (at that time) much less sprawl?

          If only all problems had a single cause. The world is much more complex.

  21. Boxer says:

    “The housing market in California with its sky-high home prices depends on blistering population growth.”

    Actually the reason we have distortions in the California market are due to the rampant infux of foreign money seeking yield (mostly asian).

    I’m sorry, I’ve got eyes and talk to people in So. Cal., so I’d say that most of the new homes are being bought up by Asian speculators. They want they’re money ‘out of their native countries’ and don’t give a hoot about massive appreciations.

    They want dollar denominated assets and some of the homes will just sit and others will be rented out to our vast new undeclass of renters. Not to mention the contribution of Blackstone and their ilk to the problem. The point is that California is now a permanently speculative market.

    Not a big fan of San Fran so I couldn’t really say that what I’ve seen on the ground here applies there.

    • GSW says:

      Has waned comparatively since the 2014-2017 time frame, but it’s still out there. I think the recent plateauing/weakening of the SF Bay Area (“weakening” a very relative term) is because Beijing is tightening the capital controls and it’s harder to get the money out of the country. Also, Trump’s protectionist rants don’t really help, and the EB5/H1B process I have heard is beginning to actually be policed.

      I went to open houses in 2013-2017 and there would be at least 2 brokers representing mainland Chinese buyers at every one; and we’re not talking about Pebble Beach, we are talking about what used to be starter SFHs in the foggy Richmond or Sunset with dry rot. Just suitcases of cash getting laundered, it was comical. They were in it to get money out of China (away from CCP) first and foremost, and have an escape hatch that has potable water, breathable air if/when the house of cards collapses, and they can work the in-state UC Berkeley education system for their offspring. Actually owning a home was secondary, they would buy sight unseen (usually in October when people have open houses and it looks like its sunny out there most of the year).

      Whether things worsen over there or the market worsens here to the point that they have to unload, that’s a key driver to the next few years up and down the West Coast; for every article vilifying tech/Silicon Valley (which no doubt has affected home values), people still seem hesitant to call out the dancing elephant in the room that has busted open every market (Sydney/Melbourne/Auckland/Honolulu/Seattle/Vancouver/SF/LA/SD); now they are starting to cough one by one. Is it just a hiccup, or do we have an early 90s redux where instead of the Japanese getting caught naked, it is mainland Chinese money? We shall see what happens from here.

  22. David in Texas says:

    For any Californians considering a move to Texas, I’d like to point out that we have regular hurricanes, tornadoes, baseball sized hail, Saharan summers, sweltering humidity, roaches that fly, gigantic spiders, 4 major types of lethal poisonous snakes, swarms of mosquitoes, ferocious coyotes, wolves, alligators, and deadly tick and mosquito-borne viruses.

    Stay home; you’d be moving to a very dangerous place!

    (Plus, all the other Californians who have moved here are driving house prices through the roof).

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      Good one, David! To reprise Yogi Berra (I’m a proud Californian whose family has been here since 1910) and Victor’s 1970-2019 population comment above: “…nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded…”. I lived in the Spokane area from 1990-1998 , in which time there was a large influx of people not only from California, but Texas, as well.

      I noted a few things.

      1) Early on, whenever I attended a local party, the natives were crowing about how they had just skinned a refugee Californian or Texan on the price of a property they had sold them. The refugees were crowing about how much house/acreage they bought with the cashout from their homes in CA/TX.

      2) Later on, the locals were moaning that their kids could no longer afford nice places because property values had risen so much. The refugees were moaning that they could only make $8 – $10hr in Spokane as opposed to $15 -$25hr back home.

      People. Of course, your results may vary.

      May we all find that better day.

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