Survey: California’s Top Financial Concerns Explained

The Public Policy Institute of California (PCIC) conducts regular surveys on how California residents feel about the economy, issues facing their communities, the performance of their elected officials, and more. Two surveys conducted this spring and summer show that people in Los Angeles and many areas of the state are very concerned about housing costs, and a significant number are feeling the pinch from other rising costs. 

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Table of Contents
  1. Affordable Housing is a Top Concern in California
  2. Other Economic Concerns
  3. Regaining Control of Your Finances in California

Affordable Housing is a Top Concern in California

In March of 2022, 64% of homeowners and 65% of renters said housing affordability was a big problem in their part of the state. Another 25% of Californians say housing affordability is somewhat of a problem. Of course, some areas are harder hit by housing costs than others.

Those in the Los Angeles area were most likely to say affordable housing was a problem: 71% said it was a big problem, and another 20% said it was somewhat of a problem. Just 8% said housing costs were not a problem. The two other areas expressing the greatest concern were the San Francisco Bay area and Orange/San Diego.

Interestingly, those with incomes under $40,000/year were less likely to identify housing costs as a big problem than those with higher earnings. This may be due in part to housing assistance available to lower-income Californians. But, lower-earning residents were also more likely to say they were concerned about affording rent or mortgage payments. 

Californians Worried About Making Rent and Mortgage Payments

55% of adults in the state said they were concerned about not having enough money to pay rent or make mortgage payments. In Los Angeles, 29% said they were very concerned, and another 23% said they were somewhat concerned. 

74% of respondents with incomes under $40,000 said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned about being able to pay their rent or mortgages, along with 51% of those earning between $40,000 and $79,999. Predictably, concern dropped with higher income and higher levels of education. But, even among those with incomes of $80,000 or more, 27% said they were somewhat concerned and 13% said they were very concerned. 

High Housing Costs Have Californians Considering Relocation

45% of Californians said they and their families were seriously considering moving due to the high cost of housing–a new record. They were split on whether they’d move to another area of California or out of the state, but only a small percentage said they were considering relocating within the state. In Los Angeles, 35% said they were considering a move out of state, compared with just 9% who were eyeing other locations within California.

Some residents were more likely to consider a move than others. For example: 

  • Those with incomes of $40,000 or more were slightly less likely to consider a move. 
  • Among those who are considering a move, higher earners are significantly more likely to consider leaving the state.
  • Renters are more likely than homeowners to say they’ve considered relocating: 53% of renters versus 39% of homeowners.
  • Younger residents are more likely to seriously consider a move than older Californians.

Other Impacts of the High Cost of Housing

64% of Californians say homelessness is a big problem in their area of the state, and another 25% say it’s somewhat of a problem. Residents of some areas express even greater concern. In Central Valley, 74% of respondents said homelessness was a big problem, and another 23% called it somewhat of a problem, for a total of 97%. Los Angeles followed with 70% calling it a big problem and another 20% somewhat of a problem. 

Statewide, 63% believe homelessness has increased in their communities in the past 12 months. That number jumps to 69% in Central Valley and 67% in Los Angeles. 

Other Economic Concerns

PCIC’s May 2022 report revealed that Californians identified inflation, jobs, and the economy as the top issues the state is facing. Three of the other four issues in the top five are closely related: 

  • Housing costs and availability
  • Homelessness
  • Gas and oil prices

36% said they or someone in their household was facing serious financial hardships due to rising prices, up slightly from 35% in March. The increase was somewhat more significant among lower-earning Californians: 53% reported serious financial hardship compared with 47% just two months earlier.

Another 28% of those earning less than $40,000 said rising costs had triggered financial hardship, but did not call it serious. That means more than 4 in 5 lower-income California residents are experiencing some degree of hardship due to increased prices. Even in the highest earning bracket, more than half reported some degree of hardship.

Just 15% of adults in California said their financial situations were better than they were a year ago, while 37% said they were worse off. The percentage who reported being better off increased somewhat with increased income. 46% of those in the lowest-earning tier said they were worse off this year than last. 

Regaining Control of Your Finances in California

Some elements of your finances–such as housing costs in the area where you currently live–are outside your control. That’s what leaves some people feeling trapped, and others considering significant changes like an out of state move. 

If you’re feeling the strain of high housing costs, rising prices on consumer goods, and high gas prices, take the time to consider your options. The first step is typically a hard look at the budget to see whether there are expenses you can cut back–perhaps even temporarily, since inflation is slowing and gas prices are declining.

Erik Clark

An expert tip from Erik

If you can’t lower costs enough to solve the problem, it may be time to consult a professional. For example, if you’re spending money each month on credit card debt, paying off medical bills, or juggling payday loans, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow you to wipe the slate clean on some of those high-cost debts and put your money where it matters most. Or, if you’ve fallen temporarily behind on your mortgage and are concerned about losing your home, Chapter 13 bankruptcy might provide a way to catch up over time. 

The attorneys at Borowitz & Clark have been helping people in and around Los Angeles resolve debt for decades. We offer free consultations so you can gather the information you need with no obligation. You can schedule yours right now by calling 877-439-9717 or filling out the contact form on this page.

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