Moving to Texas Because California Regulations Too Tough on Business

This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Jeffrey VonderHaar, owner of a medical equipment business, who is in the process of moving from Calabasas, California, to outside Houston. Business Insider has verified the price of the property. The essay has been edited for length and clarity.

I moved to California in 1998 from Dallas, Texas, and to Calabasas nearly 14 years ago. I’ve had my company now since 2003.

We have a manufacturing side, fabricating prosthetic limbs, a physical therapy side, and then we do post-op and rehab medical equipment for orthopedic surgeons, spine surgeons, and the like. So we’ve got a three-division company here, and I’ve earned my gray hair all the way through it.

Prior to COVID, we had 33 employees. Now I’m down to 13 plus another nine that we contract.

California has served me well and the industry has certainly served me well, but it’s just, wow. It’s tough. It’s tough to get by, not only as a resident but also as a business owner.

We bought a house north of Houston and are moving to Texas, which is much, much more business-friendly. We are moving for a myriad of issues and reasons.

California has too many rules and regulations for businesses

In California, there are so many rules and regulations that change constantly. The taxes are never-ending. And of course, the cost of goods is going up nationwide. My insurance for the home doubled last year. It never ends. Just on and on and on.

But when people are giving money away, you have to find some way to bring it back in. And they tend to go through those deeper pockets, or those with perceived deeper pockets, like businesses, and they just suck them dry.

You’ve got people being pushed out of California. Well if you’re pushing out the 5% of the 10% that pay the taxes, you’ve got to go deeper and pick up that revenue from those down the line. And so they’re not going to stop at those making $400,000. They’re not going to stop at those making $200,000. They’re going to go down to those making $50,000, $40,000, $30,000. It’s inevitable.

I have two boys, 10 and 12 years old. COVID pushed us into the private school system primarily because of all the rules and regulations that were being implemented. Their new school is a wonderful environment. But outside that bubble and the people we’ve met, it is a bit of a terrifying environment in greater Los Angeles.

You have homeless people littered there. I feel sorry for them. I really do. But the government’s got to step up and tend to their needs. We recently saw someone streaking naked down the street in Woodland Hills.

I’ve had three attempted break-ins in my business specifically and numerous in the businesses around me.

I have Winnebagos around the street corner of the business park where my business is situated, and they’ve been here for upwards of about a year now. So I don’t let my wife stay here after 5 o’clock. I don’t let any female employee stay there after 5 o’clock without being accompanied by a man walking out the doors.

Traffic in California as a salesperson has always been an issue. I’ve got a number of team members driving all over. Scheduling and logistically, it can be a bit of a nightmare, never mind a costly one at around $5.50 a gallon. I had to go to Beverly Hills, and it took me an hour and 17 minutes one way.

I don’t want to bash California altogether. It served us very, very well. It’s a beautiful state being driven into the ground and driving people out.

View of a pool off a back porch

Jeffrey VonderHaar said the home they bought in Texas had a pool, a greenhouse, and a chicken coop on the property.

Jeffrey VonderHaar

In Texas, we got a large home with wide open spaces

I’ve been doing business in Texas since 2016. We just didn’t really push it forward, and now I’m going to change that.

I’m going to maintain the business that I have in California because my employees are absolutely wonderful, but I have to have a sustaining business for them down the road. And I don’t see us expanding much more in California as I could elsewhere. So we’re focusing on another state, specifically Texas.

We looked at a home in Texas in November as an investment property, thinking, “Hey, down the road when the boys graduate, my wife and I would like somewhere to escape to and retire to.” But then we thought, “Why are we waiting? Why are we prolonging the inevitable?” We contemplated for about a week and decided to just make a move.

We bought a four-acre home, 5,400 square feet, with all the bells and whistles, for $1.275 million. It’s north of Houston. It’s on a pond. It’s a gated community with wide open spaces. It’s just an amazing piece of land. It’s got a pool, a barn, a greenhouse, and a chicken coop. It’s 15 minutes from any type of store or mall.

I was there for 10 days around Christmas, and I guess the neighbor came to introduce herself to us. We weren’t home, so she left us a card listing her kids’ names, their ages at school, her cellphone, and that she looked forward to meeting.

Another neighbor walked up as my boys were sitting on the pond and came over with a card with a plate of homemade cookies. I mean, that’s like stuff you read about in the books and see in the movies. But that was actually real life. So I was like, “We chose correctly.”

Moving to Texas is disrupting in terms of my business because now I’m going to have to have a second front. But the payout is going to be far, far greater, and again, my family. It’s all about that. Every move I make is for them.

Look, there are beautiful memories, beautiful fond memories we’ve had in California. Many. My kids grew up here. It’s just time to close this chapter and open up a new one.

We’ll come back and visit. It’d be a great place to visit, just not reside.