Lone Star Success News

The U-Haul Test

August 7th, 2014

by Susan Combs

About two weeks ago I was driving east on IH-10 from my ranch in the Big Bend area and saw something interesting – droves of trucks and cars, some with trailers, all with California license plates, heading east. That’s right. East. Away from big government, big tax, big spend, and even bigger regulations.

Instead of “Go West Young Man,” as the old saying was, it is “Get the Heck out of California and head East.” And boy, are they changing their addresses!

As conservative leadership over the past 20 years or so has kept taxes low and provided certainty in our regulatory climate, the Lone Star Success story has become a powerful magnet for people who want to prosper.

Corporations have gotten the idea, too, and are moving their headquarters to Texas. And why not? The Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas now numbers 52, and the folks who run large corporations care about the quality of life of their employees. That includes cost of living, ease of travel, and general tax burdens. So when they move, it is actually mutually beneficial…for them and their team.

But maybe the best and most illustrative research about this new move is the so-called U-Haul Index, which tracks supply and demand in a very transparent way.


Want to move from California? Well, so does everyone else. According to the U-Haul website, if you want to move from San Jose to Austin, it will cost you about $2268 for a 26 foot truck.

Want to head in the other direction? That’s cheap! The same index shows that renting one way from Austin to San Jose only costs about $918. You see, in California, demand for trucks is high because of all the people moving. Getting those trucks back to California for the next exodus is another story. No one is heading west, so U-Haul has to offer trucks at a discount.

The U-Haul index is real world. It is about Americans and presents a simple, clear example of where they are finding opportunity. Americans want best value, and they will move to find it.

As a mom of three sons, and grandmother to one pretty doggone fabulous grandson, I am excited that companies are moving our way. We’ve snared Toyota and Occidental Petroleum from California, and other companies are moving or expanding their operations in Texas, too – State Farm, Caterpillar, and Apple are some you may recognize. This means that the amount of job opportunity is just going to keep growing, which also means that we have to be sure that Texans are well equipped to meet those demands. Pretty wonderful challenge to face.

But here is a really interesting question. In those states seeing a loss of talent and brainpower, what are they doing to keep them? In California, not much.

So here in Texas, we have a giant welcome mat. Come on over!

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Susan Combs
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

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