Why people are moving from Northern California to Arizona

It's home to California's Redwood Empire and Wine Country. It's got a perfect climate, not too hot and not too cold, with a little fog to make things interesting. It's not too far from — or too close to — San Francisco.

It's where writer Jack London chose to live out the last days of his short life, and it even has a museum dedicated to cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

So what's not to like about Sonoma County?

A lot, apparently. In 2017 alone, some 60,000 Californians pulled up stakes and moved to Arizona, according to recent Census data.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the newspaper of record for the largest city in Sonoma County, tracked down a dozen people who moved from their fair county to Arizona and asked them why.

Their responses might surprise you. Or then again, they might not, especially if you commute, pay rent or a mortgage payment, or need to stretch a dollar.

Here's a sampling from the Press Democrat:

  • Samuel Rosales and Mark Belvedere said they moved to Arizona to escape the Northern California traffic, especially their long commutes into San Francisco.
  • Dennis Anderson paid more than half a million dollars for his small home in Santa Rosa. He got one twice as big, with a pool, for $300,000 in Tempe.
  • Tara Thompson moved for the educational opportunity. Grad school in Arizona, even with out-of-state tuition, is still way cheaper than in California.
  • Phyllis Reason lost her home in last year's devastating wildfires. By moving to Goodyear, she's closer to family, and as a side benefit, she notes that gas is a dollar a gallon cheaper in Arizona.

Other families echoed the same themes of affordability, and several said they were able to find jobs here that were unavailable to them in Sonoma County.

For now, all seem happy with their choices. We'll see if they're still singing the same tune in July.


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