They’re leaving California for Las Vegas to find the middle-class life that eluded themSteve Lopez, Los Angeles Times News Service · December 6, 2017 at 10:43 pmThe rent steals so much of your paycheck, you might have to move back in with your parents, and half your life is spent staring at the rear end of the car in front of you.You’d like to think it will get better, but when? All around you, young and old alike are saying goodbye to California.“Best thing I could have done,” said retiree Michael J. Van Essen, who was paying $1,160 for a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Lake until a year and a half ago. Then he bought a house with a creek behind it for $165,000 in Mason City, Iowa, and now pays $500 a month less on his mortgage than he did on his rent in Los Angeles.Van Essen was one of the many readers who responded in October when I reached out to people who got sick and tired of the high cost of living in California. I heard from someone in Idaho and others who moved to Arizona and Nevada.Solid recent data is hard to come by, but 2016 census figures showed an uptick in the number of people who fled Los Angeles and Orange counties for less expensive California locales, or they left the state altogether.