SAN DIEGO — California's coastal cities are seeing their populations decline.
San Diego County's population fell by more than 11,000 residents last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The soaring cost of housing is a major factor. With the ability to work remotely, people are moving to less expensive California cities or out of the state entirely.
"Because of that flexibility to work from home allowed people to move to some of the more affordable counties like Riverside or San Bernadino instead of living in San Diego,” said Oscar Wei, an economist for the California Association of Realtors.
The census bureau shows San Diego County, LA County and Orange County all saw their populations drop from 2020 to 2021.
Riverside and San Bernardino County saw growth.
"Places like Riverside are booming they've got housing going everywhere. Their growth initiative is really working,” said Carla Farley, former president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors.
Real estate experts say San Diego is experiencing the opposite with a lack of housing and record-breaking home prices.
"For the first time in a long time or maybe in our history that we have surpassed San Francisco in those numbers,” said Farley.
Statewide the population declined for the second year in a row.
The census bureau is reporting California's population at just over 39 million, which is where the state was in 2016. Immigration policies and travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic also had impacts on the population.
"There are fewer foreign immigrants coming to California because of the travel restrictions or concerns about COVID,” said Wei. "In 2022, I think things will settle down a little bit,"
As life returns to a sense of normalcy, experts do believe the population will level back out.
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