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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Moving to Cheaper Pastures?

March 31, 2000|DARYL STRICKLAND | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

Orange County's high housing prices, along with good economic times throughout the nation, could be discouraging people from moving here.

The county's population gained only 37,000 during its last fiscal year compared with 60,000 the previous year, the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported. From July 1998 to July 1999, the county's population grew to 2.76 million from 2.72 million, the Census Bureau said. The overall increase was attributed mainly to a steady birth rate and a large number of immigrants.

But considering only U.S. residents, the county had a net population loss of 19,000 last year compared with a net gain of 1,500 during the previous year. The state Department of Finance made similar findings in a report earlier this year.

Bill Gayk, a demographer at Cal State Fullerton, said county residents were leaving for less costly housing in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and that county senior citizens were retiring to less expensive areas in general. Also, he said, the national economy has created so many jobs that people feel less compelled to move to California for employment.

"Housing is a major issue now, and things will get worse before they get better," Gayk said.

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