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HomeGeneralWhy Are Wealthy Californians Ditching the State for Arizona?

Why Are Wealthy Californians Ditching the State for Arizona?

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Sunset in California
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Ken Sawyer didn’t intend to depart from California initially. The co-founder of Saints Capital had previously resided in San Francisco with his wife. She also worked in venture capital, and they owned a second home in Napa.

However, when their Napa residence was destroyed in the 2017 wildfires, they opted to purchase a home in Colorado. They did this instead of reconstructing. “After being there and realizing some of the dynamics and quality of life and the benefits that were there, we decided maybe we didn’t need to be in California,” he told Business Insider.

In 2019, after considering about five cities as places to move, Sawyer and his wife settled in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Sawyer is among numerous Californians who have traded Silicon Valley for Paradise Valley.

Based on census county-to-county migration data, Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, has experienced a recent trend of losing more residents to Arizona. Between 2011 and 2015, Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, welcomed an average of 1,127 residents annually from Santa Clara County.

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This average surged by nearly 38% to 1,555 between 2016 and 2020. Paradise Valley, often dubbed the “Beverly Hills of Arizona,” is situated amidst the desert hills in Maricopa County.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2022 that millionaires from various parts of the country were gravitating towards this suburb. According to Joan Levinson, a luxury real estate agent in Arizona who assisted Sawyer in finding his home, Paradise Valley offers its residents privacy and expansive lots.

This in addition to being conveniently located near city amenities such as shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Additionally, the area boasts natural beauty, minimal traffic compared to more densely populated parts of California, and lower taxes.

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According to Levinson, most recent affluent newcomers to Paradise Valley are arriving from California. Sawyer echoed this sentiment, stating that living in Paradise Valley has significantly enhanced their quality of life, allowing their children more freedom to play outside.

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“We love San Francisco,” he said. “But it stopped providing the public education that we wanted, stopped providing the safety that we wanted.”

Kelly Jones, a real estate agent in Arizona, noted that Paradise Valley has long been known as a luxurious area. However, while real estate prices surged across the country during the early stages of COVID-19, Paradise Valley remained relatively stable for a time. 

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Jones described the area as the “last frontier” in terms of rising property values, as it had not experienced the same level of appreciation as other locations. However, eventually, Paradise Valley also saw an increase in demand and prices.

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In Paradise Valley, the median sale price stands at $2.87 million, surpassing the median prices of $1.19 million in San Francisco and $957,000 in Los Angeles. Despite the higher property costs, homeowners in Paradise Valley benefit from lower taxes compared to California. 

According to Jones, the tax burden in California has been a significant factor driving individuals to consider relocating to Arizona, where the overall cost of living is more affordable.

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