Why Are So Many People Moving Out of the City?


|10 min read

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Almost three years on from the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, one trend has remained relatively strong: More and more people continue to move out of big cities to smaller, and often rural, areas.

While this is a fairly widespread phenomenon worldwide, it is particularly evident in the United States. One of the main drivers of this eagerness to relocate was the possibility of working remotely.

With no need to live close to one’s workplace — or to an efficient public transportation network — professionals around the country began exploring other living arrangements. These often included the opportunity to choose a better quality of life, lower cost of living, and larger properties than those offered in big metropolitan areas.

Both single individuals and those with families and children in tow gradually started to leave their cities for quieter, more affordable, and often more fulfilling environments where working from home meant they could keep their job (and salaries) while leading a life that was seen as healthier and closer to the beneficial effects of nature.

moving out of the city

Where Are People Moving From?

As you might expect, most people who choose to relocate to smaller and sometimes even rural areas are those who used to live in very large cities. But which cities, exactly, saw the most significant exodus of former residents?

Take a look at the list below, which includes cities and states people are moving out of. 

  1. Los Angeles, CA 
  2. San Francisco area, CA 
  3. Chicago, IL 
  4. Long Island, NY 
  5. Central New Jersey 
  6. Seattle, WA 
  7. Washington, D.C. 
  8. Stockton-Modesto, CA 
  9. Hudson Valley, NY 
  10. Philadelphia, PA

Some common denominators of all these locations include higher crime rates, a higher cost of living, and increased pollution levels. However, a person no longer needs to live relatively close to their place of work. In that case, it seems reasonable that they would choose to relocate somewhere more affordable with a healthier climate and added safety for both individuals and families with children.

Where Are Americans Moving To?

When it comes to moving out of the city, Americans have a wide array of choices. With quaint, rural, and welcoming small towns scattered across the U.S., you might feel like you can’t make up your mind.

In 2021 and 2022, these were the top 10 states everyone is moving to: 

  1. Sarasota, FL 
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 
  3. Nashville, TN 
  4. Tampa Bay, FL
  5. Ocala, FL 
  6. Myrtle Beach, SC/Wilmington, NC 
  7. Knoxville, TN 
  8. Atlanta, GA 
  9. Orlando, FL 
  10. Phoenix, AZ

What do all these places have in common? Seemingly, mild climate is a common factor, as is the much smaller size of these locations compared to the big cities we discussed in the previous section.

But there’s more. Life in places like Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, and Tampa Bay flows at a slower, more leisurely pace, and the communities are friendly and welcoming to newcomers. As a result, crime rates are lower, as are pollution levels, and home prices are more affordable regardless of the property type a buyer is interested in.

Life in the City: Is it Still for You?

After all, we’ve discussed thus far, getting out of the city is a great option on paper. However, something so life-changing remains an incredibly personal choice — and it might not be suitable for everyone.

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In fact, even before starting to look at properties to buy or rent in a different and smaller town, you really need to ask yourself: Am I ready to move out of the city? Will living be good without the many benefits and amenities that city life provides? Will I definitely be able to keep my current job if I get out of the city? Can I afford to buy a house in the city?

With so many considerations, it’s vital to be fully convinced that a move out of the city still is the right decision for you. So let’s discuss in more detail the pros and cons of living in the city so you can get more clarity on this life-changing choice.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in the City

Regarding the benefits of living in a big city, we begin our list by stating that cities generally offer a much wider array of facilities and amenities that cater to the most diverse types of people and communities.

The advantages of city life — particularly those with millions of residents — are home to almost everything, including vibrant art and culture scenes, exciting sporting events, unmissable culinary destinations, vast parks and green areas, and essential services, such as hospitals, supermarkets, and schools.

Another pro of living in a big city is public transport. Regardless of where you live in the city, you can easily (and relatively quickly) move from A to B simply by hopping on a bus, train, metro, or tram. 

One last important mention on why people move to cities is for the job market. Work opportunities are usually plentiful in big cities like Los Angeles and New York, no matter what sector you are interested in. 

Even so, city life is sometimes less great and fun than it seems; there are several disadvantages to it, too. Undoubtedly one of the top disadvantages is that larger cities tend to have a much higher crime rate, including violent crime. Therefore, security and safety can often feel compromised, especially for people who have been living in the city too long in more run-down and problematic neighborhoods.

Despite many cities providing their residents and visitors with a decent number of parks and green spaces, air quality could be better, especially compared to smaller towns or rural communities. This, in turn, can cause — or worsen — health conditions that range from respiratory problems to incurable illnesses.

But living in a city doesn’t just pose a potential threat to a person’s physical well-being: More often than not, city dwellers’ mental health can suffer too. People who live in the city and lead a busy, frantic, always on-the-move life can develop mental health concerns that span stress, anxiety, and depression.

moving out of the city
Aerial photo of Miami Beach mansions

Life Outside the City: Should You Move Away?

Living outside your current city can feel scary and exhilarating, especially if you have never lived in a small, rural area before. But, as with life in the big city, life in a small town has both advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s now look at what you can expect from life outside the big city.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Small Town

One of the main reasons why so many people continue to move to small towns is the better quality of life. This encompasses a range of elements, including a healthier environment, a slower pace of living, more affordable services, and lower crime rates.

Many people argue that life in the country goes hand in hand with better physical and mental health, a more supportive community, and a more satisfying personal life.

On the other hand, some of the disadvantages can involve fewer opportunities to engage in cultural or sporting events, more difficulties getting medical assistance, and a more limited choice when it comes to schools and jobs when moving out of town. 

Preparing Yourself for Moving Outside of the City

If you are reading this section, you have decided that relocating out of your current city is your best choice. Unfortunately, how to just get up and move away can be more difficult. To help you make your move as smooth and successful as possible, we have put together a few insider tips — keep reading!

Culture Shock

First things first: You should be prepared for some culture shock. Naturally, this intensity will vary greatly depending on the place you have moved from and the place you are moving to. 

For example, if you have spent most of your life in a city like Philadelphia and are relocating to Nashville, your culture shock might be less than someone moving from Manhattan to a rural village in Vermont.

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People might behave very differently, which at first can be a rather intimidating change from what you are used to. Therefore, whatever your chosen location, remember that it might take some time to adjust to your new life — and even more time to fully integrate with the new culture you are starting to get familiar with.

Doing the Research

Another critical task when preparing for your move is thoroughly researching where you want to move. This applies even to locations that are familiar to you because, for example, you spend your summer vacations there or have family and friends who already live there.

Depending on your personal needs and wishes, you may want to research topics such as:

  • Current crime rates
  • Art and culture (events, festivals, fairs, etc.)
  • Sports (to both practice and attend as part of an audience)
  • Schools and education
  • Job market (this is especially crucial if you are not going to be working in the same place and if you can’t or don’t want to work remotely)
  • Best neighborhoods
  • Family-friendly activities
  • Healthcare and medical facilities
  • Food options (supermarkets and restaurants)
  • Shopping (including larger malls and smaller, independent boutiques)

Narrowing Down Your Values and Budget

Financial considerations are essential when planning such a big move, but so are your goals, values, and dreams. 

Before you decide whether or not living in the country is for you, ask yourself questions like:

  • How will I spend my days when I’m not working?
  • Will this location provide my family and me with all the essential amenities we need?
  • Will I get fast and high-quality assistance if there is a medical emergency?
  • How important is culture for me? Will I be OK living somewhere that doesn’t offer a wide selection of cultural events?

Similarly, consider something you might not be fully aware of: Owning a suburban or rural property often comes with its own new costs and expenses. This may include buying (and maintaining) a car, as you will no longer be relying on public transportation.

Property taxes and HOA fees are something else to keep in mind when relocating out of the city, as these costs can quickly add up.

Relocating and Buying a House

Of course, having a budget is the first step in moving and buying a house outside the city, but don’t stop there — there are many more aspects to consider, too.

One important factor is space. Many Americans who move out of the city do so because they know they can afford to own much larger properties, often with good-sized outdoor spaces. This might be necessary for you, especially if you can keep your old job and now need a home office area to work remotely.

If you have pets or young children, a sizeable yard can also be much more realistic in a small town than in a big, pricey city. Only you know what is best for you and your family, and once you have established your needs and priorities, you can move on to the next step: starting your house hunt.

Enlisting Help

If you want your move to be as stress-free and efficient as possible, getting the right help when relocating is paramount. Find the best possible support with Fast Expert. We offer an intuitive, easy-to-use platform that helps you find your dream home in your dream location. 

Take a look at our website and blog now and discover all the tips, content, and resources we regularly publish to help make your home relocation as hassle-free and successful as possible.

Kevin Bautista

Kevin brings a B.S. in Accounting and ten years of experience in sales and customer service. He started with FastExpert in 2019 and has been a big asset to the team. He believes strongly in the power of communication and has great attention to detail.

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