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Americans fleeing cities for small towns in droves as crime and taxes skyrocket
By Cassie B. // May 30, 2024

Americans have been leaving the nation’s biggest cities in droves in recent years in favor of small towns as crime, immigration and high taxes leave people seeking a different way of life.

In the three years leading up to the pandemic, counties encompassing metro areas with a million residents or more lost 200,000 residents yearly to other regions, on average. The pandemic only served to accelerate this trend, with the average loss climbing to 750,000 in 2021 and 650,000 in 2022.

Statistics show that a lot of these people are moving to small towns, a trend that has not been seen in the U.S. since at least the 1970s. Although big cities are still seeing a modest rise in their populations due to surging international immigrants, they’re struggling to keep Americans in town.

The figures from 2023 tell an interesting story. That year, the New York City metro area lost 204,000 residents, while Los Angeles and Chicago lost 119,000 and 64,000 respectively. The same year, Greenville, South Carolina, added 17,000 new residents to its population of 975,000, while 30,000 people moved to Lakeland, Florida, which had a population of 818,000.

One real estate agent told Fox News that apartment rental prices in New York City have risen by 30 to 35 percent, but cost is only one factor in the decision to leave.

Americans are fed up with living in dangerous cities

Crime is one of the top reasons people are leaving cities, with many Americans complaining that they feel unsafe in neighborhoods that were once nice places to live. Many liberal-run cities are seeing crime – and violent crime in particular – rising as criminals are not held accountable for their actions and overworked and underfunded police departments struggle to maintain order.

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For example, this Memorial Day weekend, at least 41 people were shot in Chicago, 9 of them fatally, including a 5-year-old girl. A young Chicago mother recently recounted how she called 911 for help during a terrifying break-in while masked robbers were in her home; she was told they had no units to send to her and they left her on her own to deal with the robbers. The robbers eventually fled, and the police did not show up to her home until four hours later.

San Francisco, meanwhile, has been experiencing a major crime spree spanning several years, with residential areas that were once considered quiet and safe now being overrun by crime and shops closing their doors in droves. Violent crime and robberies have also risen in Los Angeles, where an actor was recently shot and killed by thieves trying to steal the catalytic converter from his car.

Taxes are another concern in metros like Boston, with Massachusetts poised to lose around $1 billion in yearly revenue as wealthy residents leave the state over its high taxes. They’ve seen a 1,100 percent rise in migration out of the state since 2013; if this trend continues at the same pace, nearly 100,000 residents making more than $19 billion cumulatively could leave the state by 2030. This would cause Massachusetts to lose around $961 million in income tax revenue every year.

The remote work boom is also playing a role, according to University of Virginia demographer Hamilton Lombard, with many Americans who are allowed to work from home post-pandemic leaving cities with a high cost of living in favor of rural areas and small towns. Even though the percentage of people working from home has dropped a bit since the pandemic peak, those who have the freedom to choose where to live are largely opting for smaller towns with lower costs and “recreation, peace and quiet, clean air.”

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