More people are moving away from urban meccas like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and instead opting for smaller, less expensive cities.

In an analysis of recently released U.S. Census Bureau population data from 2012 to 2016, Realtor Magazine calculated the net migration for most major metropolitan areas. The analysis found that while overall U.S. migration is at historic lows, there’s still plenty of people moving around the nation.  

“During the recession, Americans flocked to the biggest cities where finding a job was easier,” the magazine wrote. “But in the rebounding years, these meccas, such as New York and Los Angeles, have seen housing costs soar and people relocate to more affordable destinations.”

The top cities attracting new residents
  1. Phoenix, Arizona — With a median list price of $329,975, Phoenix ranked No. 1 in Relator’s report. The capital city of Arizona has attracted more than 37,000 people between 2012 and 2016, luring away most of its new residents from Los Angeles. 
  2. Riverside, CA — Boasting a median list price of $389,050, Riverside, Califorina, has been booming for years. It’s also attracting folks from thousands of miles away in the Big Apple. Nearly 31,000 people moved to the city between 2012 – 2016. Riverside also has loads of new homes, according to Realtor, as new construction makes up 7.7 percent of all listings.
  3. Austin, Texas — Austin has been surging in growth for years. With a median list price of $349,950, the capital city of Texas is also attracting most of its new residents from New York City. Between 2012 and 2016, about 29,200 people moved to the city, whose economy has grown considerably thanks in part to its vibrant tech industry. Austin also has seen loads of new construction, making prices fall about 4.1 percent year over year.
The top cities losing new residents
  1. New York, New York — With a seemingly unending surge in prices, New York City tops out the list of cities losing the most residents between 2012 and 2016. New York’s median list price is simply unattainable for many younger residents at $529,050, prompting people to leave by the thousands. Nearly 223,000 people left the city between 2012 and 2016, and their top landing spot was Miami, Florida. As New York City has the largest population of any U.S. city, it makes sense its population would fluctuate the most, however, it seems to be exacerbated in recent years. 
  2. Los Angeles, California — With an even higher median list price of $725,050, Los Angeles’ traffic, congestion and cost-of-living are also driving people away. Between 2012 and 2016, more than 108,000 people left the city. Phoenix was the top city for defectors. Relator found that it’s mostly people in their 40s and above are those fleeing the City of Angels.
  3. Chicago, Illinois — The exodus of Baby Boomers is a significant factor in the Windy City’s top ranking for residents migrating away. With a median list price of $285,000, about 100,000 people left Chicago between 2012 and 2016. Defectors’ top out-of-state destination is Houston. It might be the cold wind, or perhaps it’s the steep cost, as Illinois has the second-highest property tax rate in the country, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
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  • Bobby Burch

    Bobby Burch is the Founder of Bobby Burch Creative, a small business storytelling studio. Learn more about and contact him at

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