Updated: Apr 19, 2022
More than one of every ten people moving to Texas in 2020 was from California.
The movement of Californians to Texas is not new. In 19 of the last 20 years, California ranked as the top move-to-Texas state. The only exception was Louisiana in 2005 as the result of Hurricane Katrina. The share of Californians relocating to Texas has increased every year since 2011 (Figure 1).
Florida was the second largest provider with a 7.2 percent share of new Texans, less than half the California influx. Rounding out the top five sources were Colorado, Illinois, and Louisiana.
At the county level, the majority of newcomers were from Los Angeles (CA) County, or 3.1 percent of the total migration (Figure 2). This is not surprising since Los Angeles County is the most populated in California. Four other Southern Californian counties—San Diego, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino—made up the top ten counties sending residents to Texas.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people moving from California are coming from the southern part of the state and not from Silicon Valley, which is farther north. Other U.S. counties in the top ten sources of new Texans were Maricopa (AZ), Cook (IL), Clark (NV), El Paso (CO), and King (WA).
Highly populated areas of Texas are the most popular with newcomers. Of the majority of new Texans from other states, 10.4 percent relocated to Harris County (Figure 3). Other top destination counties were Tarrant (7.6 percent), Bexar (7.2 percent), Travis (6.9 percent), Dallas (6.8 percent), and Collin (6.5 percent). The top ten Texas destination counties drew 60.7 percent of interstate relocations to Texas' four major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).
Californians preferred Travis County with 10.5 percent moving there (Figure 4). Other Texas counties popular with former residents of the Golden State include El Paso, Williamson, Collin, Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Harris, Montgomery, and Bexar.
San Francisco (CA) County represented only 0.3 percent of total migration flows to Texas in 2020. Most (38.4 percent) of them relocated to Travis County. Dallas County attracted 11.7 percent, Harris County 9.0 percent, Tarrant County 5.6 percent, and Bexar County 4.8 percent.
While much is being written about people from other states moving to Texas, most 2020 moves were Texans relocating within the same or neighboring counties.
Williamson County is an example of what happened in all 254 Texas counties. In Williamson County, 44.6 percent of moves were within the county (Figure 5). Texans relocating from neighboring Travis County accounted for 19.4 percent of the total. The two Central Texas counties represented 64.0 percent of all in-state moves. In Williamson County, approximately 21.5 percent of the moves can be attributed to movers from other states.
The share of interstate migration varies for each Texas county, depending on population size and industry mix. In Williamson County, which is part of the Austin MSA, businesses and people were attracted in a greater proportion than to other counties in the state.