Nearly 1/4 Americans Are Looking to Move. These Are the Cities They're Leaving and Why

A young couple holds hands and smiles as they sit on the floor near moving boxes.

Image source: Getty Images

I'm moving. The dates are squishy, but it's decided. By the first half of 2023, my friend and I are high-tailing it from Los Angeles, California, to the Portland, Oregon, region. As much as we love our beaches cooked sunny-side up, it's too expensive to stay here.

Recent data from Redfin shows that one in four Americans are looking to move -- my friend and I are in good company. As mortgage rates pop and inflation sizzles on the back burner of just about everything, folks prioritize affordable housing over familiar neighborhoods.

More exploration, less price gouging. Most folks can get behind that. Especially folks stuck in big cities with higher-than-average housing costs. It's time for something new.

According to Redfin, these are the cities Americans are leaving the most:

  1. San Francisco, California: The top move-out city in America, nearly 40,000 more San Franciscans want to move out than move in. Monthly mortgage payments can't be cheap -- the median cost of a home in San Francisco is $1.4 million. Time to pack those bags.
  2. Los Angeles, California: Home, sweet home. Also, not as pristine as it appears in Hollywood films. The city has some of the highest rent prices in the country. The median rent price is $3,093 per month, as per Zillow. Worse, rents cost $443 more last year.
  3. New York, New York: The city that never sleeps is due for a nap. The population is shrinking by more than 20,000 as residents ditch cool high rises for hot Miami beach homes.
  4. Washington, DC: Is politics expensive? Tough to say. But residents of DC city are speaking with their feet. The city is due to shrink by more than 15,000 fed-up residents.
  5. Boston, Massachusetts: Beautiful city. Very walkable. Also, expensive. The median sale price for a home is about $750,000, way more than the average home price in the US.
  6. Chicago, Illinois: The deep-dish pizzas are the best, but they aren't enough to keep homeowners from moving to more affordable cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  7. Detroit, Michigan: Homeland of the four-wheeled vehicle, Detroit boasts a sizable arts scene and lower-than-average home prices. Even so, more folks are moving out than in.
  8. Denver, Colorado: Not long ago, it seemed like folks were pouring into Denver. As homes get more expensive and rates rise, folks look elsewhere for stunning views.
  9. Seattle, Washington: Folks are looking to move somewhere sunny and affordable. Seattle is rainy and expensive. According to Redfin, folks are moving to states like Phoenix, Arizona.
  10. Minneapolis, Minnesota: A big city with small-town vibes. There's a lot to like here, including the affordable $330,000 median sale price. Even so, residents are moving out.

What if I live in one of these cities?

Don't sweat it. You're neither late to the party nor required to move to one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. Be aware that you're in a high-rent city, and cheaper options are available elsewhere.

More: Our picks for best FHA mortgage lenders

Cities carry pros and cons. The best cities for freelancers may not be ideal for full-time employees. Do a little research before committing to a city, especially if you've never visited. Make sure you complete your move-out checklist:

We've even had a writer cover how to avoid the most stressful parts of a big move. If you're chomping at the bit but don't know where to start, check this out. Or, explore other ways to earn a little extra cash. A side hustle that actually makes you money can teach you an additional skill and help you afford rent.

Although I've committed to Oregon, I'm open to other affordable options. Like many movers, I want to live close enough to home to visit family and friends. While affordability matters, a house isn't a home without loved ones. You have choices -- explore them!

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