'Terrifying encounter' with a machete-wielding homeless man pushed woman to flee California for Florida

A woman told the Los Angeles Times that violent homeless people and COVID-19 restrictions made her flee from California to Florida, one of many stories of Americans relocating in recent years.

The LA Times interviewed a variety of people from both Florida and California who have swapped states in recent years, ranging from economic to cultural reasons.

The California news outlet reported that Krystle Meyer, a 40-year-old attorney moved to Florida after decades in California, having been "driven out, she said, by financial pressures, homelessness and a deep frustration with California’s COVID-19 restrictions."

"My salary increases were not outpacing my rental increases," she told the LA Times. "I was losing money every year."


Homelessness in California cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles has driven many Americans to seek a new life in Florida. (LA photo by by Mario Tama/Getty Images, Florida photo by: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/UCG/Universal Images Group via Get

In 2019, she had rented a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Marina del Rey for approximately $3,500 a month, but this was not to last.

"After a terrifying encounter with a homeless man wielding a machete as she walked to a movie theater, she moved into another one-bedroom apartment nearby, in a nicer building with tighter security. It cost $5,000 a month," the LA Times reported. "Money was getting tighter, she said, but for her time in California, ‘COVID was the final straw.’"

The LA Times noted that for the majority of 2020, Meyer had "strictly followed California health officials’ guidelines and rarely left her apartment," noting that "The state’s messaging seemed to her to suggest that if you visited loved ones, you were selfish and ‘you will kill them,’ she said."

But later that year, she boarded a plane "masked, terrified of the virus and sanitizing everything she touched" to fly to her parents in Florida, a state she says reacted very differently to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When I landed in Florida, no one was wearing masks. No one cared," she recalled. "Everything was open. I was like, wait, you guys have been living like this for so long and you’re not dead? I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’"

She moved permanently to a new home that is reportedly double the size of her Marina del Rey apartment and declared of her new life "It’s awesome," adding, "I have no regrets."

The LA Times also highlighted a very different story about Valsin Marmillion, who had been a longtime campaign strategist and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida but who was described as being "fed up" with the state over cultural issues.

Previously, Marmillion "taught global activism and social change communication, discussing hot-button topics such as fake news and the Black Lives Matter movement," but in recent years he became fed up with "Gov. Ron DeSantis and his anti-‘woke’ rhetoric. With school book bans. With the state’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and an environment that feels increasingly unsafe for LGBTQ+ people like him."

The cancelation of his course appears to have been the final straw, and he has since moved to California.

"We’re cultural refugees," he told the LA Times. "Just the feeling of openness — that’s what we missed. The feeling of acceptance, the understanding that individual rights are very important and they should be protected and strengthened, not taken away."

"More Californians are relocating to Florida than the other way around — but the number moving in either direction is minuscule compared with each state’s population," The LA Times reported. "Last year, according to newly released census data, roughly 29,000 Floridians moved to California, the nation’s most populous state, with 39 million residents. Meanwhile, nearly 51,000 people moved from California to Florida, a fast-growing state of 22 million."

It went on to report that "California’s population has decreased by more than 500,000 during Newsom’s tenure, while Florida’s population has increased by more than 700,000 with DeSantis in charge."

A growing number of Americans migrated from predominantly blue states with steep taxes like California and New York to red states with lower taxes like Florida and Texas last year, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Florida saw the biggest rush of new residents, with about 319,000 Americans relocating there in 2022. That amounts to a population increase of nearly 2% – well above the 0.4% national growth rate recorded in the U.S. between July 2021 and July 2022. Other red states that led in population growth include Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona and Idaho.

"It's just been a little bit of a perfect storm, but it's been a welcome addition of new Floridians that we have gained from this that like our governance in the state of Florida," Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis told Fox News Digital earlier this year. "And Governor DeSantis has been a little bit of, I call it, ‘lightning in a bottle,’" he continued. "He has been definitely hitting on all cylinders at the right time for our state."

The highly-anticipated Red vs Blue State Debate between DeSantis and Newsom will air on Thursday Nov. 30, where the two governors will debate that their states' policies are a model for the nation.

Get updates to this story from FOX News.

Megan Henney and Kristen Altus contributed to this report.