Dense and Desperate Californians Need Class to Learn How to Leave the State

Dense and Desperate Californians Need Class to Learn How to Leave the State

It sounds like the setup to a joke: a class to teach residents of the Bay Area how to leave California. All you need is an unwashed hippie, a rabbi and a talking Republican duck.

But, no: According to The San Francisco Standard, it’s instead one of the few good-news entrepreneurial stories out of the Golden State these days.

The class is the brainchild of Punam Navalgund of Intero Real Estate Services, who hosts it over Zoom (of course).

“Taught through the Campbell Union High School District’s adult education program, the class also helps people connect with trusted lawyers, real estate agents, accountants and even counselors in their chosen destination,” the Standard reported on March 15.

While some of her pupils are looking to decamp to less-expensive areas of California — Fresno and Temecula, in particular, were mentioned as destinations — Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada and Texas were the most popular landing spots for Navalgund’s students.

“I’m a problem-solver. I hear what struggles people are having and try to figure out a solution,” she told the Standard.

“Many homesellers really feel stuck in their homes.”

Well, yes, that is a problem: Census data released last month showed that only two counties in the Bay Area experienced population growth between July 2022 and July 2023; every other county in the sprawling Northern California region lost residents.

Between July 2021 and July 2022, a Stanford study found, the state lost a net 407,000 residents to other states. Furthermore, the number of people who left the state jumped during the pandemic, according to The Mercury News in San Jose, with more than 800,000 leaving in both 2021 and 2022.

Overall, the Public Policy Institute of California estimated that between 2010 and 2022, 8.5 million people moved out of the state against only 6.3 million people moving in.

This is what happens when you have to deal with high costs of living, rampant crime, quality of life issues and being around other Californians, one supposes: The desperation to escape sinks in.

So, yes — I suppose this is a booming business in an area where retail chains are fleeing and once-iconic malls are shuttering.

However, it is the most California thing imaginable to have a Zoom class teaching Californians how to jump off their own sinking ship.

Roughly 50 people were enrolled in the class at the time of the article — a lower number from when it started, but not due to a flagging number of people who need to figure out how to find their way out of Cali.

“Class enrollment has dipped from an early 2023 attendance peak, partly due to her taking some time away from work, and not a dip in demand,” the Standard reported.

One attendee, Ukranian-born engineer Ilana Shternshain, said she wanted a change of pace after working in Silicon Valley; she said those who “don’t want to work all their life” in the grueling world of Big Tech should consider it.

The class, Shternshain said, taught her about “nailing down where you would want to move to, what kinds of ideas to entertain in your head, what’s important to you, what kind of lifestyle you want to manage or have when you move there.”

That destination was eventually the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. Shternshain quit working full-time and focused on an investment firm she founded.

“The only downside is the distance from our friends,” she said. “That’s something that anybody can anticipate if they make a move.”

Christine Howes, a pediatric nurse who is a Bay Area native — along with her husband — said she took the class because both were tired of the Bay Area grind. When her sister found out about the class and asked to join along with her, she accepted.

“I had already done like a ton of research over the years, working up toward this. Even then, she brought new information that I wasn’t aware of,” Howes said of Navalgund. “I found it very helpful, and so did my sister-in-law.”

“It’s never easy selling your home and buying a home, and she just made it a more pleasurable experience,” she added. (Howes was one of the “graduates” who remained in-state, settling in Clovis, California, in Fresno County.)

“It’s very much a small town feel, but it has a lot of the bigger town amenities,” Howes said. “It’s more of a laid-back lifestyle. We have views of the Sierras all around us during the winter, and it’s gorgeous. Summers are hot and miserable, but that’s what air-conditioning and the pool are for, so we’re happy.”

Which is all quite wonderful, in both cases — but they need someone to tell them this?

Since the first colonists began arriving in what would eventually become the United States back in the 17th century, we were able to readily find out for ourselves how to move to greener pastures if it was advantageous to us.

It was never particularly difficult — so much so, in fact, that we quickly found our way to California and made it a state in 1850. This was before the Transcontinental Railroad, air conditioning or the fair-trade half-caff oat milk latte, either, so it’s not like the Golden State was as attractive to the laptop warrior class as it is these days, either.

Now, in 2024, we have U-Haul and Zillow and a great big wide web of information that allows us to pick up a handheld screen constantly connected to said web through magic wireless technology and research virtually anything about anywhere we want to move within the United States — or outside of it, for that matter.

If you are currently living somewhere, it has never been easier to work out the logistics of moving somewhere else, especially in California. How dense do you need to be to have someone teach you something generations of Americans have figured out without even having a car, much less a Tesla?

Yet, Punam Navalgund is making good coin, one assumes, on video classes designed to teach people how to get out of a state that can’t seem to keep people in it.

And you wonder why the Bay Area is one of the most reliably liberal places in America, year after year? Good grief.

I’d still say it’s all a huge joke — but the hippie, the rabbi and the talking Republican duck all declined to renew their leases and moved to Texas. There goes that.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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