More than one of every 10 people moving to Texas last year was from California, a trend unbroken by the pandemic, according to a new study released by the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.

“The movement of Californians to Texas is not new,” said Luis Torres, a research economist with the Real Estate Center. “In 19 of the last 20 years, California ranked as the top move-to-Texas state.”

Only in 2005 did the trend change, when Louisiana residents fled that state following Hurricane Katrina. Since 2011, the share of Californians relocating to Texas has increased every year. 

Florida came in second as the largest source of new Texans with a 7.2% share, less than half the California influx. The other top sources of migration were Colorado, Illinois, and Louisiana. 

U.S. counties losing residents to Texas included Maricopa, Arizona; Cook, Illinois; Clark, Nevada; El Paso, Colorado; and King, Washington.

Moves from countries outside the U.S. were not included in the study.

The majority of California newcomers, drawn to Texas because of its strong economy and growing tech centers, began their journeys in Los Angeles County. They aren’t coming from Silicon Valley, the global center for high technology and innovation in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people moving from California are coming from the southern part of the state,” Torres said. Residents of LA County accounted for over 3% of the total migration — not surprising given the county is the most populous in the state, he said.

As for where Californians are choosing to settle in Texas, Bexar County came in sixth place among the state’s 254 counties. Bexar County fared better when counting relocations from all states.

Of all new Texans from any state, most moved to Houston’s Harris County (10%), with the other top destinations being the major metropolitan areas of Tarrant (7.6%), Bexar (7.2%), Travis (6.9%), Dallas (6.8%), and Collin (6.5%) counties. San Antonio is attractive for its relative housing affordability and proximity to Austin and the areas surrounding, but the military also draws some newcomers, Torres said.

Californians preferred Travis County, with more than 10% moving there, and of those, more than a third came from San Francisco County. 

Texas has gained the most residents of any state since 2010, according to the 2020 census released in August, and San Antonio’s population grew by more than 16% in the past decade.

Torres found that most 2020 moves in Texas were intrastate relocations — people moving within the same or neighboring counties — especially those around the state capital.

Williamson County, just north of Austin, is an example of what happened in all Texas counties, according to Torres. 

Almost 45% of moves in the area around Georgetown were within the county. People relocating from neighboring Travis County accounted for almost 20% of the total. Both counties represented 64% of all in-state moves. 

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.