More and more large, established cities in the United States that have had steady populations for years, are now facing an unprecedented amount of residents packing their bags and moving elsewhere. But what are the reasons behind the thousands of residents deciding to move house?
The biggest reasons for leaving are due to the struggling economy, unsatisfactory employment opportunities, and lack of safety in the cities. Individual people and families are seeking a better quality of life elsewhere. Since the public is generally not aware of the problems these major cities are facing, many of the 19 cities listed are not ones you would expect.
19. Fairbanks, Alaska
The natural beauty experienced in Fairbanks, Alaska attracts tourists year-round. With 22 hours of sunshine in the peak of summer and spectacular views of the northern lights in the wintertime, it’s no wonder that many visitors travel here for an adventure. But what’s it like to live in Fairbanks?
By far, the biggest pro of living in Fairbanks is the community you’ll find there. Friendly neighbors, along with all the small town charm, will make you fall in love with this city.
So why have a little over 7,000 people packed their bags? High costs and limited job opportunities were the top two reasons people decided to leave.
18. Bakersfield, California
Located north of Los Angeles, Bakersfield is a town that mainly produces agriculture, energy, and oil. It is beautiful and scenic, with plenty of outdoor recreational activities to keep you active and fit. Because the town offers affordable housing, the town attracts young families wishing to own a house.
While affordable housing is certainly a big advantage for California residents, for 7,314 people since the year 2010, the pros do not outweigh the cons. Because of the oil refineries and agriculture, Bakersfield is the most polluted city in the United States. People report the strong smell of petroleum around the city, leaving them literally breathless.
If you don’t mind always being cooped up indoors to avoid the pollution, then living in affordable Bakersfield might be worth it.
17. Fresno, California
Located just a little more north of Bakersfield, the city of Fresno is a town in close proximity to the Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest, and Yosemite National Park. Like Bakersfield, Fresno is a California city with affordable housing, but it comes at a high cost.
Between years 2010 and 2017, over 7,500 residents had enough of living in Fresno and relocated elsewhere. The biggest reasons were the rise in crime, high unemployment, and harmful air pollution. In fact, the crime rate in Fresno is one of the highest in the United States. Residents have a shocking 1 in 25 chance of being victimized in a crime.
With statistics like that, it’s no wonder people are out of there.
16. Macon, Georgia
Macon, Georgia is a town full of southern charm, important historical museums including the Tubman Museum, and offers an impressive selection of restaurants with all the delicious southern comfort food we know and love. Residents love the small town feel of Macon, along with the close-knit community.
To say the city of Macon has its challenges would be an understatement. Since the year 2010, Macon has said goodbye to over 7,800 people. An astounding 38% of residents live below the poverty line. To make matters worse, Macon’s crime rate is one of the highest in the United States.
Fleeing residents are understandably looking for a better life, but many residents love their city and community despite its imperfections.
15. Anchorage, Alaska
Another gorgeous Alaskan city, Anchorage is home to almost 300,000 residents, making it the most populated city in Alaska. In fact, this city contains 40% of all people living in Alaska. It’s not surprising when you consider the spectacular scenery and wildlife this town has to offer. So why are people packing up and leaving Anchorage behind?
Over the past six years, more residents are leaving than new people are coming. A total of 8,464 people have left in the past decade. The economic recession that Alaska has been facing since 2015 is mostly to blame. People are mostly leaving to find new job opportunities in the mainland.
14. Erie, Pennsylvania
Located on the shore of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, this city is famous for its rich history dating back to the early 1800’s and as Pennsylvania’s manufacturing center. However, starting in 1970, Erie’s manufacturing and shipping industry has been on a steady decline. This decline has resulted in the loss of over 30,000 jobs over the past five decades.
Once a powerful industrial hub, Erie is now known as part of the “Rust Belt”, referring to industrial decay. The loss of jobs has understandably disheartened many in the community who are struggling to put food on the table. Over the past decade, over 8,500 residents have relocated with better job opportunities.
13. Washington, D.C.
Our nation’s capital, and home to the White House, United States Capitol, and Supreme Court, Washington D.C. is brimming with history and culture. 20 million tourists visit every year, and is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. But what’s it like to live in D.C.?
In 2017, Washington D.C. was ranked as the fourth best place to live in the United States. So why have over 8,500 residents jumped ship and left this metropolitan city? In a nutshell, it’s seriously expensive to live there.
Unless you want to share a tiny apartment with some friends, you’ll unfortunately have to search for affordable housing elsewhere.
12. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Much like Las Vegas, Atlantic City is associated with gambling, entertainment, and fun (and not the wholesome kind). Atlantic City was booming in the earlier part of the 1900’s. During the prohibition period in the 1920, Atlantic City was considered to be in its golden age. Booze smuggled into restaurants along with under-the-radar gambling operations gave Atlantic City the nickname of “The World’s Plaground”.
So what happened? Poverty and crime crept in slowly and the city rapidly declined. With the legalization of gambling in 1976, the city experienced some resurgence, but not enough to keep residents sticking around. 8,550 residents have packed their bags and left Atlantic City over the past decade.
11. Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the charming and historic capital of West Virginia. Located in the Appalachian Mountain region, Charleston is surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains, lakes, and trails. Every nature lover would find themselves at home in this town. So why the harsh decrease in residents, 9,772 to be exact, over the past ten years?
Unfortunately for Charleston residents, poverty and crime are serious problems that the city has been facing. Beneath all its natural beauty, Charleston has a poverty rate of 23%, and that number keeps going up each year. With these statistics, you can understand why people are forced to relocate.
10. Wichita, Kansas
An industrial city famous for its production and design of aircrafts, Wichita has been known as “The Air Capital of the World” – its nickname dating all the way back to 1930. Aircraft manufacturing is what mainly supports Wichita’s stable economy.
The census reveals that over 10,300 residents have left town over the past decade. Let’s look at the facts. Housing costs are below the national average, which means buying a house is quite affordable in Wichita. In addition, the unemployment rate is better than the national average, so what’s the problem?
Yet again, the problem in this city is crime. Violent crimes in Wichita are 166% higher than the national average, and are increasing each year.
9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
If someone mentions Baton Rouge, Louisiana, most people immediately think of Louisiana State University, or LSU. That’s because Baton Rouge is mostly a college town, focused around the university and its sports. Football and basketball are common topics of conversations at bars and restaurants around the city. Speaking of restaurants, Baton Rouge offers delicious cajun and creole cuisine, cultural to the state of Louisiana. It’s described as a fun, youthful, and affordable place to live.
With all that said, it’s surprising to hear that 18,284 residents have packed up and left this city in the last decade. What’s to blame? An increasing unemployment rate and a skyrocketing crime rate that rivals that of Chicago.
8. Rockford, Illinois
Rich in history, the city of Rockford goes back a couple hundred years, being settled in 1830. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Rockford was known as a manufacturing hub for both heavy machinery and furniture. Things turned for the worse in Rockford starting in 1950 and, similar to the story of Erie, PA, became known as a “Rust Belt” city.
Many efforts to restore Rockford have been attempted by leaders, focusing on art, history, and culture to strengthen the community and attract tourists in hopes of boosting the economy. Many residents love their city and the community it offers.
But 18,789 residents over the past 10 years have hightailed it out of there in search for better job opportunities and to escape the incredibly high crime rate.
7. Flint, Michigan
The city of Flint might sound familiar to you. The Flint water crisis of 2014 was the top story of every news channel that shocked Americans around the country. In 2014, a new water source, the Flint river, was implemented by city officials in order to save costs. The problem? Lethally high lead levels in 40% of residents’ homes. A federal state of emergency was issued by President Obama in 2016.
It goes without saying that the water crisis led to a mass exodus of residents. 22,658 residents left their hometown to relocate elsewhere. The city of Flint has lost tremendous property value and has a long, hard road ahead to achieve restoration.
6. Memphis, Tennessee
“Home of the Blues, Soul, & Rock ‘n’ Roll“, Memphis is a unique, lively, and unforgettable city brimming with history and culture. The iconic Beale street sparked the origin of the Memphis blues sound that musicians like Frank Stokes, B.B. King, and Memphis Minnie influenced the world with. These are the sounds that influenced Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Memphis continues to rock the music and nightlife scene, which is at the heart of the community.
With so much soul, it’s hard to believe that just about 30,000 residents have moved away from Memphis in recent years. Many agree that Memphis is behind in the digital and technological sphere, which might avert young people seeking jobs in technology.
5. New York City
The “Big Apple” is a city that needs no introduction. It’s got an entire culture all of its own. Fast paced, exciting, and full of life, New York City is a place people go to pursue their dreams, or leave brokenhearted and empty handed. It’s a mega city with 8.4 million residents spread out over Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
So how many have jumped ship? 39,523 New Yorkers left in just the past few years.
It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to live in NYC. With so many residents, people are bound to have widely different experiences. There’s obvious crime and extremely high costs of living that have surely scared off residents. Many relocate to safer, more affordable cities nearby.
4. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis has been described as a big city with a small-town feel. Located practically on the border between Missouri and Illinois, along the Mississippi River, St. Louis is home to just over 300,000 residents. Residents love the historic buildings, culture, and charm of the city they call home.
However, according to a recent census, just under 40,000 residents who left the city would have to disagree. Most of the decisions were because residents were not feeling safe enough to raise a family in the city’s current state. In 2017, St. Louis was listed as the most dangerous city in America, rivaling that of Detroit, largely to do with drug trafficking.
3. Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan is famous for its industrial history, especially that of the automobile industry. Detroit is the birthplace of the industry and continues to be the center of the United States car production today. General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler are all headquartered in Detroit.
Detroit is also unfortunately famous for its rampant crime, ranking as the number one crime rate in the country several times. Because the problem is not getting much better, this could explain why 54,640 residents have relocated this past decade.
Although many residents want out, this doesn’t stop visitors from coming. In fact, Detroit was on the New York Times list in 2017 naming it a top place in the world to visit.
2. Los Angeles, California
This Southern California mega city of almost four million residents is known and admired all around the world. With a culture all of its own, L.A. is home to Hollywood, fantastic beaches, and warm California sunshine.
Because L.A. is widely diverse and spread across an area of 502 square miles, residents are bound to have a range of different experiences living in this diverse city. But what everyone living there will agree on is that residents spend a lot of time on the freeway, commuting in traffic. It’s also an expensive city to live in. That, coupled with crime statistics that are some of the highest in the country, might help explain why there’s been almost 94,000 migrations since 2010.
1. Chicago, Illinois
Now for the number one city with the most amount of residents packing up and leaving – Chicago. A big jump from L.A., Chicago has had almost 300,000 residents relocate in the past decade. Let’s delve into the reasons why residents are deserting the “Windy City”.
Residents who moved away gave a myriad of reasons: the weather, which is mostly cold and gray, high taxes, ineffective government, and not enough middle class job opportunities. All in all, the choices to move sound mostly political, with residents unhappy with the direction Chicago is going.
It’s still a fabulous city to visit. All the reasons in the world won’t stop tourists from coming for a slice of deep dish pizza.