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Where Should I Move? The Best (And Worst) Places to Live in 2023

🌍 Where should I move? 🌍

Americans say Seattle is the best city in the United States, while California is the best state. They named Washington, D.C., as the worst city and Alaska as the worst state.

What Makes a Great Place to Live? | What Makes a Place Overrated? | Most Desirable Cities | Least Desirable Cities | Most Underrated Cities | Most Overrated Cities | Most Desirable States | Least Desirable States | Most Underrated States | Most Overrated States | Top States for Relocation | States Americans Are Leaving | Why Americans Move States | How Often Americans Move | Where Americans Want to Live | Barriers to Relocation | Why Americans Move | Moving Abroad

There’s no place like home, but for many Americans, finding a location they like isn’t as easy as clicking their heels together three times.

In the past year, Americans have become less satisfied with where they live, according to a new survey conducted by Home Bay and Allied Van Lines. In 2023, just 63% of Americans say they like where they live, down from 80% in 2022. 

Amid expensive housing costs, widespread political division, and proliferating natural disasters, Americans can’t help but wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere.

To learn more about where Americans really want to live in 2023, we partnered with Allied Van Lines β€” one of the world’s largest moving companies β€” to find the most (and least) desirable places in the U.S.

Some Americans are all yack and no pack, but we discovered that nearly 1 in 3 (29%) have moved in the past year β€” chasing new opportunities or pursuing a better life. 

Keep reading to find out what makes a great place to live and what would prompt Americans to pack up their lives and move to a new location.

🏑 Best Places to Live Statistics

  • The most desirable places to live have a low crime rate (46%), affordable homes (43%), and a low cost of living (41%).
  • More than 1 in 3 Americans agree that high crime (41%), a high cost of living (36%), expensive homes (34%), and high taxes (33%) make a place overrated.
  • Americans consider Seattle the most desirable city in the U.S. and the most underrated β€” stealing the distinction from Virginia Beach.
  • Americans say the most overrated city in the U.S. is New York, while the least desirable city is Washington, D.C. 
  • From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, Chicago had more outbound moves than any other city, while Phoenix had the most inbound moves, according to Allied Van Lines.
  • Americans rank California as the best state to live β€” relegating Florida, last year’s winner, to No. 2. However, respondents also say California is the most overrated state.
    • Americans say Colorado, Wyoming, and Tennessee are the most underrated states. 
  • Alaska is the least desirable state, followed by Alabama and California, according to Americans.
  • In the first six months of 2023, Illinois had more outbound moves (69%) than any other state, while South Carolina had the most inbound moves (66%), according to Allied Van Lines.
  • In 2023, 63% of Americans like where they live β€” down from 80% in 2022.
    • Of those who don’t like where they live, 42% say they can’t afford to move.
  • About 40% of Americans would prefer to live in a different area, with the suburbs being the most desirable choice, followed by rural areas and urban centers. 
  • If given the option, 26% of Americans would prefer to move to a different country. 

What Makes a Great Place to Live?

Not every city or state will be considered great for the same reasons, but the best have a few things in common. Americans agree that the most desirable places have low crime rates (46%), affordable homes (43%), and a low cost of living (41%).

Low crime rates jumped from the second-most desirable trait in 2022 to the most desirable in 2023. Public safety has become the highest priority as violence on the news cycle convinces Americans life is becoming more dangerous. Although gun violence and motor vehicle thefts have indeed soared since the pandemic, homicides and the overall crime rate are actually falling.

Social and economic factors certainly contribute to a city or state’s desirability, but 1 in 3 Americans (32%) also think nice weather plays an important role. 

A majority of respondents (53%) would rather live in a region with extreme winters and pleasant summers, but Americans are generally migrating South, where climate change causes extreme heat on a frequent basis. 

Despite high temperatures, the region added 1.3 million new residents in 2022, indicating Americans are willing to endure the heat in exchange for more affordable homes and a lower cost of living. 

Natural beauty is another environmental factor that makes a place desirable, according to 27% of Americans. This is especially important to rural residents, who are 38% more likely than urban residents to value this trait. 

Beaches are the most desirable natural landscape (29%), followed by mountains (14%) and lakes (11%). 

Humans experience less stress in nature, but urban life is still preferable to many Americans, with 21% saying they’d rather live near a city than a natural landscape. This is particularly true among millennials (24%) and Gen Z (22%), who are about 2x more likely than boomers (11%) to say the city is preferable to natural landscapes. 

Predictably, urban residents would prefer to live in the city over any natural landscape, while suburban and rural residents would prefer to live near the beach. 

What Makes a Place Overrated?

What makes a place desirable or undesirable is a matter of personal taste, but more than 1 in 3 Americans agree on at least four things that make a city or state overrated: 

  • High crime (41%)
  • High cost of living (36%)
  • Expensive homes (34%)
  • High taxes (33%)

High crime is the most undesirable trait for the second year in a row, with all generations agreeing that a lack of public safety is the No. 1 reason a place is overrated. It’s of particular importance to baby boomers compared to younger generations, who often feel immune to physical harm. Boomers are 28% more likely than millennials and 41% more likely than Gen Z to say high crime makes a place overrated. 

Similarly, rural residents β€” who tend to skew older β€”  are 26% more likely than urban residents to say overrated cities have high crime rates. Although it’s common to assume cities are dangerous and plagued by crime, rural areas aren’t necessarily safer. In fact, rural residents die at higher rates than urban residents. 

Rural and urban residents also tend to disagree on how local politics affects a city or state’s desirability. Liberal politics (19%) are slightly more distasteful than conservative politics (18%) among all Americans, but urban residents are 43% more likely than rural residents to say conservative politics make a place overrated.

The 50 Most-Populous U.S. Cities, Ranked

CitiesMost Desirable RankLeast Desirable RankMost Underrated RankMost Overrated Rank
Seattle, WA116114
Tampa, FL2926
Charlotte, NC318324
New York, NY46431
Denver, CO5461333
San Francisco, CA67163
Los Angeles, CA78372
Orlando, FL8304116
Nashville, TN9481843
San Diego, CA10221220
Miami, FL11193812
Austin, TX1214611
Atlanta, GA133108
Las Vegas, NV1420397
Washington, DC151115
Raleigh, NC16421436
Dallas, TX1715319
Phoenix, AZ18332025
Chicago, IL1910334
Boston, MA2012510
San Antonio, TX21262522
Virginia Beach, VA22502145
St. Louis, MO2311418
Portland, OR24371538
Baltimore, MD252817
San Jose, CA2617919
Salt Lake City, UT27271734
Birmingham, AL285715
Richmond, VA29382444
Houston, TX30242921
New Orleans, LA31353226
Jacksonville, FL32213427
Buffalo, NY3342613
Memphis, TN34432342
Sacramento, CA35313532
Louisville, KY36471940
Providence, RI37393046
Pittsburgh, PA38344247
Riverside, CA39284531
Oklahoma City, OK40292241
Hartford, CT41442748
Columbus, OH42364728
Cincinnati, OH43254829
Detroit, MI44134923
Philadelphia, PA45325037
Kansas City, MO46452839
Minneapolis, MN47494649
Cleveland, OH48234030
Milwaukee, WI49414450
Indianapolis, IN50403635

10 Most Desirable Cities to Live

2023 RankCityRank Change From 2022 +/-
1Seattle, WA+1
2Tampa, FL+8
3Charlotte, NC+10
4New York, NY+11
5Denver, CO+2
6San Francisco, CA-1
7Los Angeles, CA-3
8Orlando, FL+4
9Nashville, TN0
10San Diego, CA-7

Americans say Seattle is the most desirable city in the U.S. in 2023, with nearly 1 in 5 respondents (19%) listing it in their top five. The Emerald City is popular among young people, with Gen Z selecting it as their top choice (21%) and millennials choosing it second (17%) β€” behind Los Angeles (19%). 

It’s not hard to understand Seattle’s appeal. The city is known for its charming neighborhoods, vibrant culinary scene, close proximity to nature, and year-round recreational opportunities. Yet residents pay a high price for these attractions.

Although Americans say the most desirable cities are affordable, Seattle is one of the most expensive places in the U.S. In June 2023, the typical home value in Seattle was more than $700,000, compared to the studied-city average of roughly $437,000. The cost of living in Seattle is also 14% higher than the U.S. average.

Seattle may be desirable, but some residents are forced to flee to less preferable areas because of the expense. From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, Seattle experienced the second-most outbound moves among all 50 cities studied, according to Allied Van Lines moving data.

It’s clear that attractions and amenities make a city desirable, but money tends to have a greater influence on Americans’ actions.

Virginia Beach, the surprising most desirable city in 2022, fell out of the top 10 this year, along with Phoenix and Miami.

Americans may no longer be enamored with Phoenix, but the city remains a hotbed for new residents. In the first six months of 2023, the Valley of the Sun experienced more inbound moves than any other city

The cities with the most inbound moves from January to June 2023 were:

  1. Phoenix, AZ
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Dallas, TX
  4. Denver, CO
  5. Tampa, FL

10 Least Desirable Cities to Live

2023 RankCityRank Change From 2022 +/-
1Washington, D.C.+9
2Baltimore, MD+23
3Atlanta, GA+21
4Buffalo, NY+17
5Birmingham, AL-3
6New York, NY-1
7San Francisco, CA-4
8Los Angeles, CA-7
9Tampa, FL+30
10Chicago, IL-4

The U.S. capital is a culturally rich city with a diverse population, below-average unemployment, and a plethora of free events and amenities. But many Americans can’t separate the city from the seat of government, with its partisan politics and squabbling Congress Creatures.  

The District of Columbia is considered the most undesirable city in the country, supplanting Los Angeles, which was No. 1 in 2022. About 20% of Americans say D.C. is one of the worst places to live β€” compared to 13% who say it’s among the best.

Americans don’t seem to agree on much these days, but hating D.C. is a common sentiment that unites residents from communities of all sizes. Rural (21%) and suburban (24%) residents agree that the District is the most undesirable city, while urban residents (16%) rank it No. 4. In fact, D.C. is so unpopular that longtime politicians attempt to market themselves as anti-establishment when appealing to voters.

The U.S. capital was built to symbolize American ideals, but unfortunately, it struggles with many of the same problems that plague the rest of the country. The cost of living in D.C. is 10% higher than the studied-city average, while the typical home price is 24% higher.

As a result, the capital experienced a population decline in 2022, with 3 residents per 1,000 leaving the city. However, D.C. is a transient market with residents moving in and out with election cycles. After the 2022 election, D.C. had the second-most inbound moves among all 50 cities studied in the first six months of 2023, according to Allied data. 

Extensive inbound moves aren’t the norm, though, among many metros in the bottom 10. Americans are leaving these undesirable places in droves, with 70% of cities on this list experiencing population declines in 2022. Only Atlanta, Birmingham, and Tampa β€” cities where the cost of living is below average β€” saw their populations increase.

Despite the haters, Tampa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York are also among America’s most desirable cities β€” indicating that Americans have mixed opinions about the best places to live. 

5 Cities Americans Are Leaving in 2023

Seven of the 10 most undesirable cities experienced negative net migration in 2022 β€” a trend that is continuing for some of those cities in 2023. 

In the first six months of the year, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta had the most outbound moves among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities, according to Allied Van Lines data. 

Seattle and Houston are the only two metros that did not also appear on America’s list of undesirable cities. In fact, Seattle is considered the best place to live, revealing a mismatch between what Americans desire and what they can actually afford. 

Houston boasts a lower-than-average cost of living and median home price, but high crime could be driving residents away. With 12.4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, the city’s crime rate is the highest in Texas and 36% higher than the national average (9.1). 

Here’s where Americans are moving instead:

10 Most Underrated Cities to Live

2023 RankCityRank Change From 2022 +/-
1Seattle, WA+2
2Tampa, FL+21
3Charlotte, NC+5
4St. Louis, MO+42
5Boston, MA+31
6Austin, TX+20
7Birmingham, AL+7
8Baltimore, MD+41
9San Jose, CA+2
10Atlanta, GA+12

New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago may be some of the most famous places in the United States, but there are plenty of hidden gems that deserve to be on Americans’ radar.

Seattle has certainly grown into a powerhouse in recent years as Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks have brought jobs, wealth, and influence to the city. Yet Americans still don’t believe it gets the recognition it deserves.

Along with being the most desirable city, Seattle is also considered the most underrated. The metro appeals to residents of all areas, with urban and suburban residents saying it’s the most underrated city, while rural residents say it’s the second-most underrated behind Charlotte.

Overall, the top three underrated cities also made the list of most desirable metros, suggesting Americans value places they believe others have overlooked. 

Eight of the most underrated cities β€” besides Seattle and Charlotte β€” made the list for the first time in 2023. Of those, St. Louis jumped a whopping 42 spots and emerged as one of the top contenders. It was the surprising No. 2 choice among Gen Z and urban residents. 

Visitors will find St. Louis has plenty of things to do, including blues clubs, breweries, museums, and championship-winning sports teams. Yet affordability is the main draw, with a cost of living that’s 5% lower than the studied-city average and a typical home price that’s 44% less than average.

Although these locales may be off the beaten path, they’ve gained popularity as affordable places to live. Besides Seattle, Boston, Baltimore, and San Jose, all of these cities have a cost of living that’s below the national average.

10 Most Overrated Cities to Live

2023 RankCityRank Change From 2022 +/-
1New York, NY+2
2Los Angeles, CA-1
3San Francisco, CA-1
4Chicago, IL+10
5Washington, D.C.+3
6Tampa, FL+21
7Las Vegas, NV-1
8Atlanta, GA+15
9Dallas, TX-5
10Boston, MA+25

New York City is the most undesirable city in America, rising two spots from the 2022 ranking to replace Los Angeles at No. 1.

America has a love-hate relationship with New York. Although 16% say it’s one of the most desirable places to live, an even greater 21% think the Big Apple is rotten to its core.

It’s undeniable that New York has world-class entertainment, bustling nightlife, and an incredible food scene, but it also checks many of the boxes that make a place overrated. At $613,000, the typical home price is 40% higher than the studied-city average, while the cost of living is 14% higher.

New York City remains the most desirable place to live among urban residents, but it has its share of haters from the suburbs and rural areas. Those groups tend to dislike major metros, ranking New York as the most overrated, followed by Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Americans still consider L.A. and San Francisco some of the most overhyped cities in 2023, but their opinions have improved slightly from last year, when they ranked those metros as the No. 1 and No. 2 most overrated cities, respectively.

Interestingly, Americans still consider New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa desirable places to live, even if they are overrated and not as great as some Americans claim.

The 50 U.S. States, Ranked

StateMost Desirable RankLeast Desirable RankMost Overrated RankMost Underrated Rank
New York34248
North Carolina9474217
South Carolina1235249
West Virginia21111710
New Jersey2513839
New Mexico28182541
Rhode Island29322325
New Hampshire42434546
South Dakota45283928
North Dakota48374447

10 Most Desirable States to Live

2023 RankStateRank Change From 2022 +/-
3New York+3
9North Carolina+2

Americans say California is the most desirable state in 2023 β€” relegating last year’s winner, Florida, to No. 2. Although Americans have polarizing opinions about the Golden State, its supporters outweigh its haters. Nearly 1 in 3 respondents (31%) say California is one of the best places to live, compared to just 19% who say it’s the worst.

California’s problems with income inequality, homelessness, and climate change have been well documented. But its year-round warm weather and unparalleled natural beauty appeal to young people, with one-third of both millennials (35%) and Gen Z (33%) ranking California among their top five most-desirable states.

Tennessee is the surprising favorite among boomers (26%), with Florida again falling to No. 2. Florida may be the classic landing place for adults nearing retirement age, but with rising insurance costs, long waits for the state’s retirement communities, and high inflation, many boomers are rethinking where to relocate.

The Volunteer State has emerged as a top destination. In 2021, Tennessee repealed its state income tax, creating a tax-friendly environment for retirees. The state also boasts some of the best hospitals and outdoor recreational opportunities in the U.S.

With so much to offer Americans of all ages, it’s no surprise Tennessee, along with North Carolina, cracked the top 10 most desirable list for the first time in 2023. Arizona and Virginia were bumped off, falling to No. 11 and No. 13, respectively. 

10 Least Desirable States to Live

2023 RankStateRank Change From 2022 +/-
4New York-1

With an expensive cost of living, unbearable winters, and months of darkness β€” followed by months of eternal sunlight β€” it’s no wonder Americans think Alaska is the least desirable state.

More than 1 million people visited Alaska in 2022. Although it’s a breathtaking place to visit, nearly 1 in 5 respondents (20%) say it’s one of the least-desirable places to live.

Not even yearly stipends can convince Americans to move to the Last Frontier. The thought is so unappealing that Alaska dethroned California as the least desirable state to live in 2023. California has its share of problems, but at least residents can endure them in better weather.

Boomers, who tend to gravitate toward suburban and rural areas, regard California and its large urban centers as the most undesirable. More than one-third of the cohort (38%) ranked it as the worst state to live, compared to just 15% of millennials and 12% of Gen Z.

For the second year in a row, millennials and Gen Z, who prefer to live in cities, rank rural Alaska and Alabama as their least desirable states, respectively.

Every state has its haters, but Americans tend to dislike areas that are geographically, socially, and politically different from their own. For example, urban residents say Alaska is the least desirable state, while rural residents say California is the least desirable.

The most unlikeable states have changed little since 2022, with only one new state, Utah, making the list in 2023. Utah may not seem as polarizing as California or Texas, but the state does have a lack of diversity, scorching summer heat, and earthquakes β€” making it undesirable to some. 

Due to ties in 2022, three states gained favor in the eyes of Americans and fell out of this year’s ranking: Washington, West Virginia, and New Jersey.

10 Most Underrated States

2023 RankState
9South Carolina
This question was not asked in the 2022 survey. Therefore, rank change data is not available.

Some places get all the attention, but these sleeper states shouldn’t be overlooked.

Colorado has become well known for its jagged mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and cascading waterfalls. Its natural beauty has fueled a population surge, but Americans still don’t think Colorado gets the recognition it deserves.

The state’s numerous ski resorts and outdoor recreational opportunities appeal to active young adults, with millennials (18%) naming it the No. 1 most underrated state, and Gen Z (14%) naming it fifth.

Boomers prefer Big Sky country, selecting Wyoming as the most underrated state and Montana as the third-most underrated. With more than 1 in 3 boomers (36%) saying crowds make a place overrated, it’s no surprise these sparsely populated states are favorites of this generation.  

Like Colorado, many of these underrated states will wow residents with their natural beauty. Alaska, for example, will leave Americans in awe of its glaciers and snowy peaks, making the state an underrated place to live. 

Alaska may be a better place to live than Americans give it credit for, but that doesn’t necessarily make it desirable. The state’s underrated qualities don’t outweigh the undesirable drawbacks of living in the Last Frontier.

Americans say high crime makes a state undesirable, and Alaska is one of the most dangerous, with one of the highest violent crime rates in the U.S. 

10 Most Overrated States

2023 RankState
2New York
8New Jersey
This question was not asked in the 2022 survey. Therefore, rank change data is not available.

California may be the most desirable state, but many Americans don’t think it lives up to the hype.

It was the consensus pick among all generations, with half of boomers (55%), one-third of millennials (34%), and one-fourth of Gen Z (27%) saying the Golden State is overrated. They also agree that New York is the second-most overrated state, while Florida is the third.

Florida may be called the Sunshine State, but it has a dark side hidden in the bizarre ethos of the “Florida Man.” Articles detailing brawling Easter bunnies and naked barbecues provide Americans with a nice laugh, but they also point to the state’s larger issues with poverty, substance abuse, and violence. 

Overall, the top five most overrated states also make our list of most desirable states. These states certainly have qualities that attract new residents, but they can be regarded too highly. At times, steep prices, overcrowded cities, and other drawbacks may overshadow a state’s perks.

Top 5 States for Relocation

States that Americans think are desirable don’t necessarily attract the most new residents.

Respondents assume Texas (14%), California (12%), Florida (12%), and New York (8%) have gained the most new residents, but the usual suspects don’t even crack the list. In fact, California (-5.6 per 1,000) and New York (-11.2 per 1,000) actually lost residents in 2022.

This year, Americans are ditching the most-populous states in favor of less crowded destinations. According to Allied Van Lines, the states with the most inbound moves in the first six months of 2023 are:

  1. South Carolina (66% inbound)
  2. Tennessee (61% inbound)
  3. Arizona (60% inbound)
  4. North Carolina (59% inbound)
  5. Massachusetts (58% inbound)

With smaller, charming cities and plenty of natural beauty, South Carolina is an excellent place to settle down and enjoy a slower pace of life. Not only does South Carolina offer a high quality of life, several of its cities also boast strong economies and a lower cost of living than other major metros.

The state’s neighbors, Tennessee and North Carolina, have also grown in popularity β€” making America’s list of most desirable states for the first time in 2023. That’s translated into an influx of new residents, with Tennessee gaining nearly 13 new residents per 1,000 people and North Carolina gaining 12.

States Americans Are Leaving in 2023

The U.S. population is growing, but that growth isn’t evenly distributed. While some cities are booming, others are dwindling as residents move away. 

California’s population decline over the past two decades has been well documented, causing more than 1 in 5 Americans (21%) to wrongly assume the Golden State has experienced more outbound moves than any other state in 2023.

Americans underestimate how badly residents want to leave Illinois, however. From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, the state had the most outbound moves (69%) in the United States, according to Allied Van Lines.

Illinois’ population has been declining for years, especially after a massive state income tax hike in 2017 increased the cost of living and deterred new job growth. Combined with a higher-than-average violent crime rate, residents are fleeing the Land of Lincoln en masse.

The five states with the most outbound moves in the first six months of 2023 are:

  1. Illinois (69% outbound)
  2. California (61% outbound)
  3. Washington (58% outbound)
  4. Pennsylvania (56% outbound)
  5. Michigan (56% outbound)

Crime Could Convince Nearly 4 in 10 Americans to Leave Their State

Americans are a mobile group, with more than 1 in 4 (27%) saying they’ve lived in five or more states. But not everyone has wanderlust. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say they still live in the state where they grew up. 

However, 93% of Americans say they could be convinced to leave their state under certain conditions. With respondents saying the most overrated states lack public safety, it’s no surprise that high crime is the No. 1 reason Americans would move states.

Nearly 40% say they’d move if a state became unsafe, followed by:

  • An increase in the cost of living (37%)
  • High home prices (33%)
  • Tax increases (32%)
  • Extreme inflation (32%)

In light of those responses, it’s not hard to see why Illinois, California, and Washington are losing the most residents. Illinois has the second-highest property tax rate in the U.S. and a higher-than-average violent crime rate. Meanwhile, California and Washington have some of the highest median home prices at $763,000 and $593,000, respectively, compared to the U.S. median of $349,000.

Reasons to move vary by generation, but young people are more sensitive to job loss. Compared to boomers, Gen Z is 5x more likely to move if there’s a rise in unemployment and 3x more likely to relocate because of a loss of industry.

Even in tough economic times, boomers don’t want to uproot their lives. They are 3x more likely than millennials and Gen Z to say nothing would convince them to leave their state.

About 2 in 3 Americans Plan to Move Within the U.S. at Some Point in Their Lives

Americans are extremely mobile β€” moving short distances and across the country more often than residents of other societies. In the past three years, 30% have moved within the same city, 26% have moved within their state, and 20% have moved states.

Moving can be stressful and costly, but it’s ingrained in the American ethos. Residents are constantly in search of better prospects and upward mobility elsewhere. In the next three years, 45% of Americans want to move within their city, 42% want to move within their state, and 36% want to move out of state.

Not surprisingly, young adults in search of educational opportunities, better jobs, and affordable homes move more frequently than older generations. Boomers are the most stationary generation as they look for places to live out their golden years. 

Many boomers aren’t even planning to downsize as rising home values and interest rates make moving more expensive than staying put. Only 14% plan to move within their city in the next three years β€” about 3.5x fewer than millennials (53%) and Gen Z (50%).

Interestingly, boomers are more likely to move out of state (21%) than within their state (13%) β€” perhaps for better tax laws and a lower cost of living that would stretch their dollars further in retirement.

Where Americans Want to Live

Americans are always in search of new opportunities, but sometimes family, jobs, and mortgages can tie them to a community. About 40% of adults would prefer to live in a different area.

For the second year in a row, the suburbs are the most desirable place to live, while urban cities are the least desirable, according to Americans. The suburbs are often ridiculed for their cookie-cutter houses and lack of character, but there are many advantages to living in this area, such as affordable homes, more space, and less crime. 

These characteristics can lead to a higher quality of life, and suburban residents are generally more satisfied with their location than their urban counterparts. In fact, 41% of city dwellers don’t actually prefer to live in the city.

Suburbanites show their contentment by buying homes and planting roots in their communities. With homeowners making up a significant portion of the suburban population, their mortgage may also tie them to the area and hinder their mobility. In the past three years, suburbanites moved to a different city 39% less often than urbanites, and they’ve moved states 29% less often.

Although the exodus from big cities to small towns has slowed since the peak of the pandemic, many Americans have seen the benefits of living in rural communities. The countryside remains a popular relocation spot, and across all generations, more people want to live in a rural area in 2023 than they did in 2022.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Don’t Like Where They Live

Overall, Americans have become less satisfied with where they live in the past year. In 2023, just 63% of Americans say they like where they live, down from 80% in 2022.

Many of the most desirable locations are large metro areas that have high-paying jobs but expensive housing and living costs that younger generations can’t afford. It’s no surprise, then, that Gen Z is the most dissatisfied, with 42% saying their city or state is undesirable, followed by 34% of millennials and 30% of boomers.

Although many residents don’t like where they live, they stay because of financial reasons. Of those who are dissatisfied with their location, 42% say they can’t afford to leave.

Nearly half of Americans (46%) spend more than $2,000 on their move, and that cost is the most common barrier among all generations. Forty-eight percent of boomers, 40% of millennials, and 37% of Gen Z say they’ can’t afford to move.

Besides the expense, Americans say they can’t relocate because:

  • Moving is too much of a hassle (33%)
  • They already live near family and friends (30%)
  • It’s too risky (20%)

About 1 in 8 Americans (13%) say their mortgage or lease ties them to the area, with city dwellers 70% more likely than rural residents to say this prevents them from leaving.

Not only do expensive urban properties cost more to sell, the pool of buyers who can afford them is smaller. That means homes could take longer to sell, reducing homeowners’ mobility.

94% of Americans Who Like Where They Live Would Consider Relocating

Two-thirds of respondents (63%) like where they live, but nearly all of them (94%) could be convinced to relocate. Americans move to be near family and to find better weather, but economic purposes are the primary reason they relocate.

About 2 in 3 Americans (67%) would relocate to a city or state that paid them to move there. Millennials and Gen Z are the most eager to cash in on those perks, with about 70% saying they’d relocate, compared to 52% of boomers.

American would also move for the following financial reasons:

  • Lower cost of living (46%)
  • Great job opportunity (38%)
  • More affordable homes (36%)
  • Lower rent prices (33%)

Overall, fewer people are willing to relocate for a job, which fell from the No. 1 spot with 52% of the vote in 2022. As remote work opportunities make it easier to find good employment from any location, Americans are staying put β€” especially with high home prices and interest rates deterring mobility. 

However, 48% of millennials and 39% of Gen Z are still willing to move for a job as they build their careers, making them 4x and 3x more likely to do so than boomers (12%), respectively.

All generations are equally willing to move for economic reasons, but when it comes to social reasons, Americans are split predictably along generational lines. Compared to boomers, the younger generations are 2x more likely to relocate for new friendships, 3x more likely to relocate for more amenities, and 15x more likely to relocate for better dating opportunities.

Boomers are more set in their ways. Nearly 1 in 4 (22%) say nothing could convince them to relocate if they like where they live β€” making them 11x more likely than millennials (2%) and nearly 6x more likely than Gen Z (4%) to resist moving.

With rural populations tending to skew older, it’s no surprise they are also more stationary. Residents from rural communities are 4x more likely than urbanites and 2x more likely than suburbanites to say nothing could convince them to move. 

On the other hand, Americans are fleeing cities in droves. More than 2 million people fled the largest metros from 2020 to 2022, with 1 in 4 (28%) seeking more space and 1 in 3 (35%) seeking better schools.

That makes urban residents 47% more likely than rural residents to move for more space and 67% more likely to move for higher-quality education, although rural communities face their own academic challenges.   

More Than 1 in 4 Americans Would Move to a Different Country

If given the opportunity, 26% of Americans would prefer to move to a different country.

Disillusioned by American hustle culture as they start their careers, Gen Z is the most willing to relocate outside the U.S. Roughly 35% say they’d emigrate, compared to 24% of millennials and 16% of boomers. 

Among those who want to live abroad, the most common reason to relocate is for a better quality of life (40%). Think relaxed work schedules, afternoon siestas, and extended vacation time.

It’s no surprise Americans aspire to this kind of life, considering the U.S. lags behind other developed countries in quality of life rankings based on broad access to quality education, health care, employment, environmental quality, and other tangible and intangible factors.

Behind quality of life, the top five reasons for moving abroad include:

  • A fresh start (38%)
  • Lower cost of living (35%)
  • Better health care (34%)
  • A safer environment (32%)

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (30%) say they want to move abroad simply because they’re sick of the U.S.

With homeownership and other measures of success out of reach, cash-strapped millennials are more likely than boomers to flee the U.S. in search of lower living costs (41% vs. 38%) and more affordable health care (42% vs. 29%).

By contrast, boomers β€” one of the wealthiest generations in history β€” give cultural factors and economic factors the same weight. They are just as likely to move abroad for better food (38%) and better people (38%) as they are for lower living expenses (38%).


The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Home Bay. One thousand Americans were surveyed July 16-17, 2023. Each respondent answered up to 26 questions related to where they live, which areas of the U.S. they prefer, and what they believe makes a city or state desirable.

To supplement our survey findings, we’ve included data from the U.S. Census on net migration rates, unemployment rates, regional price parities, typical home values, and violent crime rates per 1,000 residents. Unemployment, price parities, and typical home values are designated at the metropolitan area level. Violent crime rates are from and are at the city level. Net migration rates are direct from the U.S. Census database. Migration rates for metropolitan areas are calculated using aggregated county-level data for which most metros have coverage.

We also include data from Allied Van Lines to capture recent moving trends across cities and states. Specifically, we looked at which cities and states have seen the most outbound and inbound moves from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023.

About Home Bay

Where your real estate voyage begins. Since 2014, Home Bay has helped thousands of readers confidently sail through their next home sale or purchase. In 2021, Home Bay was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $160 million on real estate fees. Research by Home Bay’s Data Center has been cited by The New York Times, CNBC, MarketWatch, NPR, Apartment Therapy, Yahoo Finance, Black Enterprise, and more.

About Allied Van Lines

Established in 1928, with more than 400 agent locations in North America, Allied Van Lines is an experienced leader in household goods moving and specialized transportation services. Allied is a leader in providing relocation services to corporations, consumers, governments, and non-profits around the world. Voted as America’s Most Recommended Moving Company for five consecutive years by Women’s Choice Awards, Allied is one of the world’s largest moving companies and an established global brand of SIRVA BGRS, Inc. For more information about Allied Van Lines, visit

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