I was born and raised in California and – having lived here since the 1960s – I can tell you from experience that every year more people move here, especially into the lower third of the state known as Southern California.
The running joke among those of us who have lived here for decades is that, at some point the influx of people will stop once everyone realizes how heavy and intense the automobile traffic is.
But that never seems to prove true.
Lanes are added to the widened roads, trains are built underground and new natural-gas busses are added to commuter lines – and more people keep moving here.
During the Great Recession, there was a momentary reprieve as more people moved out of California than into it (but even then, the births in the state outweighed the deaths), but now that the economy has a pulse again, Americans are moving into Southern California.
Less often discussed is how many international citizens relocate into Southern California from other countries.
Californians already know that immigrants move here from Mexico, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, and Central America. What many people underestimate are the amount of wealthy families investing in second (or third) homes here from China, Germany, UK, Canada, Sweden, and the Middle East.
Here are seven reasons that Southern California keeps growing.
Los Angeles has jobs. In fact, no state added more non-farm payroll jobs from March 2013 to March 2014 than California.
Though California is an expensive place to start a business compared to other states (parking regulations, taxes, permits, etc.), there are also more customers and clients here who unabashedly like to spend their money on products and services.
It’s hard to convey just how excellent the weather is in Southern California. There’s no pushing your car out of a snowbank, or staying in bed in the morning because it’s too cold to put your feet on the floor, or staying in the shower because you’re afraid to turn off the hot water. It’s almost always sunny and warm. In fact, what we think of as “cold” for Southern California is actually “shorts weather” for people from Europe.
3. Lifestyle in Southern California
Because the weather in Southern California is year-round pleasant, going outdoors is always an option and this has helped to created a culture of fitness. In fact, this area is arguably the fitness capital of the world.
Los Angeles has enjoyable weather most days of the year. Even cold weather in LA would be considered warm by someone coming from northern Europe.
Additionally, many people tend to relocate to Southern California to reinvent themselves, to follow their dreams, and to live their daily lifestyle in the most idyllic way possible – this has also helped to make Southern California a fitness mecca. In this geographical region of the US, gyms are often bustling throughout the day and the parks and nature trails are brimming with joggers, bicyclists, and athletes-in-training.
Southern Californians lead an outdoor lifestyle. An 80-degree evening in mid-November means family dinner can be served on the patio. A sunny February afternoon means an office worker can go for an outdoor run during his lunch hour. Weekend mornings can be spent bike riding or hiking or taking the dogs for a long walk, followed by a stroll through the neighborhood farmers market to stock up with next week’s groceries. This type of thing doesn’t just happen in Spring. It happens all year long.
The idea of the professional business suit was first born in London, where a wool jacket, a starched shirt, and sturdy shoes made sense in that damp and chilly environment. In Southern California, dress is more casual because starched and wool clothing just doesn’t make as much sense here. This casual attitude permeates almost all areas of daily living – not just clothes. Californians tend to have a more live-and-let-live attitude. Many people migrate to Southern California to reinvent themselves, and so people here are less interested in family pedigree and traditional class status.
There’s just so much to see and experience in Southern California. Restaurants, gallery exhibits, theater, and just about every outdoor activity you can think of.
6. The Diversity of Southern California
This is my favorite thing about living in Los Angeles. Your friends and colleagues come from anywhere and everywhere – providing your life with a rich tapestry of meaningful experiences and adventures. If you throw a small party at your home, you’ll likely have people from a variety of races, religions, political parties and romantic preferences. Don’t believe me? Move here, and throw a dinner party one year later. Look around the table and you’ll see how fun and diverse your life has become.
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Many savvy investors from across the nation still consider Southern California to be one of the most strategic places in which to add to their real estate portfolios. Even foreign buyers are getting in on the action.
Chinese investors, for example, consider homes in California’s coastal cities to be comparatively inexpensive and Chinese investors surpassed Canadians in recent US house purchases.
The American real estate market has become a favorite destination for Chinese outbound capital, last year alone reaching an estimated $10 billion.
The U.S. market is very attractive to Chinese investors as they look to expand their global operations and diversify their portfolios by adding U.S. assets” – Phil Marra, U.S. Real Estate Funds Leader
The National Association of Realtors reports that international buying in the US is at an all-time record high. $92.2 billion foreign dollars were recently invested in US real estate, with a sizable portion of that total invested in Southern California.
Foreign Investors Buying Up California Real Estate
International real estate activity within the state of California continues to be robust in recent years:
- Realtor.com reports that foreign investors represent a whopping 8% of total existing homes sales (dollar volume) in the US.
- Foreign buyers pay almost double the national average per house.
- The four US states that account for over 50% of international sales are California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
- 7% more Realtors reported working with international investors (compared to previous years).
International Home-Buying Activity is Up
NPR podcasting reports that Los Angeles is becoming a global market like Manhattan.
Among the home buyers from other countries, China investors continue to be among the most active.
Los Angeles is an insiders’ city. Many aspects of day-to-day living in the Los Angeles area are not easily apparent to foreign investors – unless they’re already living here full-time. If you have specific questions about the Los Angeles lifestyle and its real estate, phone David Findley at 310-345-6911.
Foreign Investors are buying real estate in Southern California.
Foreign Investors Paying Cash for Second Homes
The majority of foreign investors intend to use the home they purchase in the US as either a vacation home or a rental investment property:
- Most are established investors who pay for the extra home in cash.
- They choose the home primarily for its location. California and Hawaii are perceived as particularly desirable locations (for the US state of Hawaii, the Japanese top the list of foreign buyers – investing over $70 million in Hawaii residential real estate in 2015 – in only the first half of the year).
- Most of the buyers have their “first homes” located in either Canada, Asia, or Europe.
- What’s different today compared to years past in that a significantly larger portion of foreign real estate investors are coming from South America.
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