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Why More People are Leaving California Than Moving Here

SACRAMENTO -- California, with its beautiful weather and long coastline, has for decades been one of the most popular places to live in the country.

The Mays family, Shannon, Jason, Jackson and Katie, have lived in Vacaville for almost 20 years.

"We left the Bay Area to come to Vacaville because of crowding and crime and costs of housing," Shannon said.

"When we moved up here to Vacaville, to Solano County, we loved it at first. Like the first 10 years were great," Jason said.

But now, they're moving again and leaving California.

"If you had told me even a year ago, 'Oh, you're moving to Oklahoma,' I would have thought you were crazy," Shannon said.

Shannon's sister Shantel Wion and her family are also moving.

Both families say the high cost of living, traffic and increasing government regulation has created a life they can no longer afford.

Jason Mays says he got the idea to move to Oklahoma from reading an article online.

"I was just reading an article one day and it popped up as a great place to retire is Oklahoma. I was like, 'Really?' I never thought about that," he said. "I never really thought about Oklahoma at all. But then I started looking at the prices of houses, and the cost of living and I thought, 'Wow, that’s really neat.'"

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, the Mays were able to buy 10 acres of land for only $83,000. That's more than enough space for both families to build a home.

The Mays know their money will go much further in the Sooner State.

According to Zillow, the average price for a home in the U.S. was $261,000 in February 2018. The average home price in California was $469,000. In Oklahoma, it was $116,000.

"Over the last few decades, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been coming here," Brian Uhler, with the Legislative Analyst's Office, told FOX40.

Uhler says between 2007 and 2016, six million Californians left the state.

"California’s cost of living, which is primarily driven by our housing costs, are higher than pretty much any other state in the country," Uhler said. "And as a baseline, that means people are going to be more likely to leave California for other states."

While it's not clear what the future holds for California and its middle-class exodus, the Mays family knows their future is in Oklahoma.