Word has it that California is losing residents at a significant rate. “I/We just moved in from California” is heard more and more often these days. Most commonly, these emigrants settle in Texas, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Tennessee, and our fair land of Arizona. ...Well, I should say: Austin, Dallas, Portland, Seattle, Vegas, Denver, Nashville, and Phoenix. Few come to the rural back desert and mountains of Safford, Clifton, or Duncan.

Something about Cali discourages residents from staying. Something about these other states encourages people to flee Cali. Usually, lower taxes and reduced cost of living allures people over. The pandemic taught people that work from home meant they could move their home to more financially hospitable climates.

We spotted a license plate cover in town saying “I’d Rather Be In California,” despite sporting Arizona tags. Well. Go on. Get going. If you love it so much, you really oughta go home, right? Why stay if you don’t like it here? What’s holding you back, hm? Oh, perhaps it’s the exorbitant price of housing, too-competitive job prospects, and mind-melting traffic of downtown Los Angeles. Or, perhaps, it’s the cheaper rent, acceptable cuisine, and reasonable wait times at the DMV in Safford. Or, maybe, they have an actual, legitimate reason like family nearby.

Does the thought ever occur to people to consider the reasons why the states they move into attracted them in the first place? Why vote to make Arizona another California? Can’t they simply leave well enough alone?

I mean at this rate I’d rather be on Mars, but jury’s still out on making that happen, and the Gila Valley comes pretty close anyway.

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I come from Missouri. That’s where my bias stems from, and fortunately it’s meshed fairly well with Arizona culture. When I changed residences, I did not take it as solemnly as I ought to have. Now I recognize how important it is for newcomers to respect and abide by the culture and politics of the state they move into, because thousands from Cali do not seem to be doing so as they settle in Phoenix.

The last midterm and presidential elections have shown how this invasion manifests itself. At this rate, they’re going to wonder why the state is no more fun in 30 years.

It doesn’t appear to go the opposite direction. Interestingly, conservatives don’t butt into progressive areas and lay party siege. They tend to shrug, pack up, and find ever fewer greener pastures. Usually actual pastures in the countryside.

Someday, this patient population will grow weary of running away. Arizonans will stop caring about their Southern border, and start looking closer at their Western one. Maybe the people who joke about “flyover country” will forever do precisely that: simply fly over us.

Alek Miller lives in Morenci.

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