After arguing for 3 years (here, here, and here) that Ron DeSantis was the worst at handling Covid, the media is now complaining that the Governor handled the pandemic too well. So well, in fact, that hundreds of thousands of people fled “the safe haven” of the blue states to “risk certain death” in Florida.
In the first three months of this year, record numbers of homebuyers searched for housing outside the metro area where they lived, Redfin research showed, with Miami being the top destination for movers. Tampa was third, while Cape Coral was sixth.
Governor DeSantis handled Covid so well that the media is desperately searching for a way to explain why people fleeing to Florida is a telltale sign that things in Florida are still going poorly. For starters, they just discovered that massive migration into a state creates a more competitive housing market:
“Rents, which are rising by double digits nationwide, are positively ballooning across Florida, fueled by a surge of people who relocated to the state during the pandemic. Florida’s population is growing faster than any state but Texas: Between 2020 and 2021, 300,000 people moved to the Sunshine State.”
The media is always surprised to find that good governance attracts people. Just like a highly rated restaurant producing high quality food would likely charge more, and have higher wait times, than your local KFC, Florida attracted middle income and wealthy people from the blue states who fled high taxes, falling living standard, and life altering pandemic restrictions. Of course, wealthy people from other states make a tough competition for lower income residents of Florida.
“A slew of recent high-profile corporate moves to Florida, including Goldman Sachs, Elliott Management and Virtu Financial, have boosted Florida’s profile, while the pandemic’s shift to remote work turbocharged relocations. The level of inquiries his company gets from firms interested in moving to the state has grown tenfold compared to before the pandemic.”
Media wasn’t similarly concerned for low-income earners when Silicon Valley companies were over-hiring and overpaying their employees. College graduates getting astronomical salaries (and free lunches) artificially inflated real estate market in Silicon Valley for many years. Middle class residents were completely priced out of the parts of California, and buying or renting a house became a nightmare. Your humble correspondent was outbid eight times searching for a somewhat livable Silicon Valley house.
And now the owners of these multi-million-dollar houses can’t go to an upscale mall without witnessing a heist, and they must step around human feces on their way to a $300 per plate dinner. Living in California is no longer worth the price of admission. So, they are taking their ball (and their money) and going to Florida:
“For migrating tech workers leaving San Francisco, New York, Chicago, being able to save thousands of dollars each year remains a compelling driver… to relocate [to Florida.]”
That prompted CBS to come up with the world’s most misleading headline: “Florida is the least affordable place to live in the U.S”
“In February, Realtor.com designated Miami as America’s least affordable place to live.”
Realtor.com only looks at real estate data. It does not consider other factors: price of gas, utilities, food, and medical care. Once you consider all of that, by every indicator besides insurance, Florida is a bargain compare to California or New York.
Despite the growing home prices, a 2-bedroom apartment near the beach in South Florida will still have a price tag of around 500k. In comparison, a similar 2-bedroom apartment in Marina Del Rey is close to 2 million dollars. Average house price in California is twice that of Florida. You can verify that running your friendly real estate engine.
“Adjustment for income” is also a huge deception. Incomes are indeed higher in California – but not for everybody. Hollywood elite and high-tech employees bring the average salary in California way up. However, most people in California still work for a modest wage. Service industry, restaurant workers, car mechanics and people doing manual labor are paid the same, or marginally higher, than their Florida counterparts. Those people can’t compete in artificially inflated real estate market.
Real estate aside, practically everything is cheaper in Florida. California having the nation’s highest price of gas is the worst kept secret ever that CBS chose to ignore:
“Average regular gas prices in California are $1.15 above the national average.”
California residents also pay exorbitant rates for utilities:
“The national average of combined utility bills is $328 a month.
In Oakland, combined utility bills cost households $564 a month. In San Francisco, household combined utility bills are $457 a month and in San Jose, households pay $390 a month.”
A nice dinner for two in Florida is often under 50 bucks. Any mid-range Bay Area restaurant will charge you twice as much, and then add several surcharges.
Then of course, California taxes the heck out of you – more than any other state.
California became completely unaffordable for people living on middle income salary. Many of them fled, leaving “the billionaires,” the very poor who depend on Gavin Newsom’s largess, and the people who are stuck for personal reasons. But because Gavin Newsom is warming up in the bullpen as Joe Biden’s replacement, the media will keep your attention on people being “squeezed out” of Florida (not California!)
“Although Florida is increasingly attractive as a place to live for many Americans, the influx is squeezing many long-time residents, especially low-paid service industry workers and older residents on a fixed income.”
That statement is also a deception. Florida continues to be the top US travel destination, which makes the service industry thrive. People who are willing to work hard are growing their wealth and are fully able to buy a house in the many parts of Florida that are very affordable. In addition, Florida just introduced a Hometown Heroes program to help young professionals buy their first house.
Real estate market swings are the work of a free market, and thus, will negatively affect some people, as a free market always does. Pretending that Florida’s government is somehow negligent or culpable in this is a gross misrepresentation. And of course, the ridiculously misleading CBS headline speaks for the agenda they are pursuing.
RWR fact checks this claim as false and notes Governor DeSantis is still breathing just fine.