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Chuck DeVore: What made me leave California for Texas -- and why I have no regrets

Chuck DeVore

Moving usually isn’t much fun — it’s hard, it can be expensive and, if you’re moving out of state, it can be a bit intimidating. But moving from California to Texas was the best thing that ever happened to my family.

In 2011, along with my family, I was one of about 562,000 people who moved out of California (468,000 moved in). A little more than 1-in-10 Californians who left that year made their way to Texas. We were among them.

We had no relatives living in the state and only a couple of friends when we made the move.

As with most of the tens of thousands of Californians who have moved to the Lone Star State annually in recent years, we did so for opportunity borne of greater freedom: lower taxes, greater private property rights and less government to tell you what to do.

Before the move, our household had also grown as we took in my wife’s parents. Lifelong New Yorkers, they were in declining health and clearly could no longer live on their own. With four adults and two children in an Irvine home designed for a smaller family, it was clear the arrangements could only be temporary.

But the supply of housing had been constrained for so long in California that prices were simply out of reach. This was largely due to restrictive zoning, heavy environmental regulatory burdens and lawsuits. If we were going to take care of my in-laws, it was likely not going to be in California.

Further, prior to my election to the California State Assembly in 2004, I worked as an executive in California’s vibrant aerospace industry. But the end of the Cold War in 1991 led to significant industry consolidation. For California, that often meant manufacturing capacity was moved out of state.

When the nation was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, our response forced further waves of industry retrenchment, especially in R&D, as defense resources were focused on the current fight rather than innovating modern systems. By the time I was termed-out of the legislature in 2010, the number of major defense industry headquarters in California had shrunk precipitously, with most of them relocating to the Washington, D.C. region. It was clear that if I was to work in my old profession, I’d be living out of a suitcase.

So we sold our house in Southern California and moved to Texas, settling in the Hill Country about 25 miles southwest of Austin. Our new home was 70 percent larger (with 12 times the property) than our California home, and it had a swimming pool — all for $110,000 less. Most importantly, the ground floor had two extra bedrooms and a bathroom for my in-laws — not having to walk upstairs was a significant factor in our home search.

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We’ve found Texans to be a friendly, liberty-loving bunch. Though where we moved, it seems half the neighborhood hails from California, with the number of friends we have from the Golden State moving to the Lone Star State growing by the year.

Chuck DeVore is Vice President of National Initiatives for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He was a member of the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010 and is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army retired reserve. 

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