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Why are Companies Leaving California for Texas?

For as long as anybody can remember, California has ranked among the most desirable places to live on Earth. Its majestic redwood forests, world-class education system, sandy beaches, beautiful people, and global food scene have cemented its status as a proven place for big money and talent. But all that seems to be changing. An exodus of tech firms has recently decided to up sticks from the Golden state and make their homes in a very different corner of the United States. So today we're looking into the burning question: why are companies moving from California to Texas?

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: The allure of California 
  • Tesla's move to Texas 
  • Hewlett Packard's relocation 
  • Oracle's headquarters shift 
  • Staffing advantages in Texas
  •  The impact of taxes 
  • A better quality of life
  • Cultural similarities 
  • The influence of the Coronavirus pandemic 
  • California's regulatory framework 
  • The future of the California tech dream 
  • Conclusion 
  • FAQ


Introduction: The allure of California

California has always been a dream destination for many. From its stunning natural beauty to its thriving tech industry, the state has captured the imagination of people worldwide. However, recent trends indicate a significant shift as more companies are choosing to leave California behind and set up shop in Texas. What could be the reasons behind this relocation?


Tesla's move to Texas

One of the most prominent examples of companies moving from California to Texas is Tesla. In July, Elon Musk announced that the biggest Tesla car plant in the United States would be built on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. This move represents a $1.1 billion investment in the region and the creation of around 5,000 high-skilled jobs. Musk himself has reportedly moved to Texas, bringing along his drilling operation, The Boring Company. Musk's decision to relocate stems from several factors, including the desire to be closer to his SpaceX base in Boca Chica, South Texas. It's where Musk's Starship rockets are being developed for future missions to Mars. Additionally, push factors, such as a public disagreement with Californian officials regarding the closure of Tesla's Fremont factory during the COVID-19 pandemic, have played a role in his decision.


Hewlett Packard's relocation

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, considered one of the great tech giants of Silicon Valley, is also making tracks toward Texas. The company is building a state-of-the-art campus on the outskirts of Houston. According to a statement from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Houston's attractiveness as a market to recruit and retain diverse talent was a significant factor in their decision to relocate.


Oracle's Headquarters Shift

Database software giant Oracle has also announced its move to Austin, Texas. Oracle's spokesperson stated that the relocation was aimed at positioning the company for growth and providing their personnel with more flexibility in where and how they work.


Staffing advantages in Texas

One crucial factor that makes Texas more attractive to companies in terms of staffing is the difference in individual tax burdens. While the corporate tax situation is similar between California and Texas, California's income taxes for high earners can reach as high as 13.3 percent. In contrast, Texas has zero percent state income tax. This substantial difference means that executives moving from California to Texas can enjoy an instant pay rise, allowing them to have more disposable income. The lower cost of living in Texas, particularly in cities like Houston, enables well-paid tech workers to afford larger houses and enjoy an overall better quality of life. Texas, despite its conservative reputation, offers a vibrant culture, especially in cities like Austin, known for its high percentage of degree-educated workers and exciting events like the annual South by Southwest festival. 


The Impact of Taxes

While taxes play a role in the decision-making process for companies, the difference in corporate taxes between California and Texas is not substantial enough on its own to warrant a wholesale move. However, with President Donald Trump's reduction of the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, state taxes have become more important to companies looking to cut costs.

A Better Quality of Life

The high cost of living in California, especially in tech hub cities like San Francisco and Palo Alto, is a significant factor driving the migration to Texas. In Texas, well-paid tech workers can afford larger houses and enjoy a better quality of life with their increased purchasing power. Moreover, Texas offers a similar cultural experience to California, with cities like Austin attracting a diverse and educated workforce. 


Cultural Similarities

Despite its conservative reputation, Texas has much to offer in terms of cultural experiences. Austin, in particular, boasts a thriving music scene, a vibrant arts community, and a progressive outlook. The city's 47 percent rate of degree-educated workers and events like the South by Southwest festival rival the cultural appeal of California. Many individuals and companies are finding that Texas provides an attractive alternative without compromising on the richness of cultural experiences.


The Influence of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the recent surge of companies moving from California to Texas. A study conducted by leading corporate consultants Gartner revealed that approximately three-quarters of chief financial officers anticipate a permanent shift toward remote work for their employees. This realization, combined with the success of remote work during the pandemic, has made companies reassess the need for a physical presence in expensive urban centers. The allure of larger properties and a more relaxed lifestyle in Texas has become increasingly appealing. 


California's Regulatory Framework

Another factor cited by companies seeking to shift operations to Texas is California's regulatory framework. Critics argue that California's legal and legislative muscle often bullies corporate decision-makers. Policies such as capping executive pay relative to frontline workers can lead to skepticism among corporate leaders. Elon Musk, for instance, has expressed frustration with California's regulatory regime. While established tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple are unlikely to relocate from California anytime soon, the regulatory environment is a consideration for new and growing companies.

The Future of the California Tech Dream

Despite the recent exodus, California still retains its allure and remains a hub for innovation and technology. The state's tech giants, with their massive headquarters and significant influence, are firmly rooted in California. While the departure of smaller companies may be a cause for concern, California's position as a global leader in technology is unlikely to be diminished in the foreseeable future.


The shift of companies from California to Texas is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors. The allure of Texas lies in its favorable tax environment, lower cost of living, cultural vibrancy, and the flexibility afforded by remote work. While California's regulatory framework and high living costs have contributed to the exodus, the state's established tech giants continue to maintain their presence. Ultimately, the decision to relocate comes down to a combination of factors that best serve each company's growth and personnel needs.



1. Are companies leaving California for Texas only because of taxes?

No, while taxes play a role in the decision-making process, the motivation behind companies moving from California to Texas encompasses multiple factors. These include the lower cost of living, cultural appeal, and the flexibility offered by remote work.

2. Will the California tech industry suffer due to the relocation of companies?

While the departure of some companies is noteworthy, California's tech industry remains strong. Established tech giants and the state's innovative ecosystem ensure that California will continue to be a global leader in technology.


3. What advantages does Texas offer to tech companies?

Texas provides advantages such as a favorable tax environment, lower cost of living, a vibrant cultural scene, and an increasing acceptance of remote work. These factors make it an appealing destination for companies looking to establish or expand their operations.


4. Will the migration from California to Texas continue in the future?

The future migration of companies from California to Texas will depend on various factors, including economic conditions, regulatory changes, and evolving work practices. However, given the current trends and benefits associated with Texas, it is possible that the migration may continue.


5. How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact the decision to move?

The pandemic has accelerated the acceptance and adoption of remote work. Companies have realized that employees can be productive while working remotely, which has reduced the need for a physical presence in expensive urban centers. This realization has made the prospect of moving to Texas even more attractive.

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