Since the mid-19th century, when the name of California became associated with gold, with the yearning for wealth and freedom, this state has remained the paradigm of the American dream: of that myth in which anyone, native or not, could achieve success.

Pocos casos representan esta leyenda como el del irlandés John William Mackay, que dejó el infame barrio de Five Points en Nueva York para irse a San Francisco en 1851. No tenía dinero, tampoco contactos, pero ganó lo suficiente en las minas para comprar la suya propia. Con el tiempo, Mackay llegaría a ganar el equivalente a 50-70 mil millones de dólares actuales. Pero también, más recientemente, personas como la inmigrante e informática polaca Joanna Hoffman cumplieron su particular sueño californiano: esta llegó en 1980 a California y fue la única mujer en el equipo fundador del ordenador Macintosh de Apple.

Few cases represent this legend as well as that of Irishman John William Mackay, who left New York's infamous Five Points neighborhood for San Francisco in 1851. He had no money, no connections, but earned enough in the mines to buy his own. In time, Mackay would go on to earn the equivalent of $50-70 billion in today's dollars. But also, more recently, people like the Polish immigrant and computer scientist Joanna Hoffman fulfilled her particular Californian dream: she arrived in California in 1980 and was the only woman on the founding team of Apple's Macintosh computer.

However, it so happens that, according to the latest predictions of the US Census Bureau, in California, also known as The Golden State, the population is declining for the first time in the last 170 years, practically since its founding.

But, before we take you to one of these destinations....  What is driving California to lose its luster? What is causing many people living in the 'Golden State' California to also consider the 'Golden Visa'?

What's going on?

Today, many more people are leaving California than coming to the "Golden State". Among the most famous to have left California, in recent times, is Elon Musk, who in December 2020 moved along with all his businesses to Texas. But... what are the reasons for this exile?

According to the Los Angeles Times, "the California dream has been fading for a long time"....

If you want to find specific reasons, the West Coast state has simply become unaffordable. The price of real estate has skyrocketed, and many of California's middle and high income earners have decided to escape to places with lower taxes and less regulation. That is why other states such as Colorado, Idaho or Texas itself have appeared as new receivers of this population group.

However, it so happens that none of these places offer the same combination of sun and sea that California does.

And in search of a new dream home, some ex-Californians have turned their gaze thousands of miles away, to Spain for example, and in particular, to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There where they have been able to find sun and sea for half the price.

Nora Larson's Case

Nora Larson es una cliente de Echeverria Abogados que creció en California. Pero, así como lugares como La Jolla o Laguna Beach fueron los que la cautivaron décadas atrás, cuando el estilo de vida californiano formaba parte de los sueños de medio mundo, Nora sigue viviendo hoy su sueño lejos de allí. Lo hace en Benalmádena, una pequeña ciudad de la Costa del Sol malagueña donde encontró su nuevo hábitat natural. Allí, claro, llegó con una Golden Visa como fenómeno global.

Nora Larson is an Echeverria Abogados client who grew up in California. But, just as places like La Jolla or Laguna Beach were the ones that captivated her decades ago, when the Californian lifestyle was part of half the world's dreams, Nora continues to live her dream far away from there. She does so in Benalmádena, a small town on the Costa del Sol in Malaga where she found her new natural habitat. There, of course, she arrived with a Golden Visa as a global phenomenon.

"The advantages are many: for example, when travel and tourism return to pre-pandemic normality, the Costa del Sol's strong tourist market gives the option of rental income; and ultra-low interest rates mean that, even as a foreign buyer, you can get incredibly cheap financing. Not only that, but buying a property can put you on the fast track to residency and even a second passport," says Nora. 

California has always been a good choice, but neither is the Costa del Sol. Nora certainly doesn't seem to regret her decision.


The conclusions I draw from the story of Nora and the hundreds of other Californians arriving on Spanish shores are several.

The first of all is that times have changed, and they have changed dramatically. California is no longer everyone's dream and the idea that people are fixed in one place is no longer true. More and more people want to move, to have several places to live and/or to have two passports, which give you the opportunity to live between two worlds: between, for example, the Mediterranean and the Pacific.

From this first conclusion, we come to the second: migration policies can also be used to attract money instead of people, as in the case of Nora. These migration formulas could function as a sort of diversification strategy to boost the economy, taking advantage of visa policies to attract investment instead of immigrants.

And the third and last one is obvious: in search of the California of the 21st century as many people are, it seems that some, like Nora, have already found it. And it is here, in the Mediterranean.

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