Richmond and DC Among Cities People Are Most Eager to Ditch

by Don Rippert

Anywhere but here. Moneywise Publishing is citing a “study” detailing the most and least desirable American cities based on real estate inquiries. Real estate brokerage firm Redfin tracks Americans using their web site to find new places to live.  According to the company, 25% of people browsing home listings online are “looking to get outta town.” Tracking the places people want to leave isn’t very encouraging for Virginia. Both the Richmond metropolitan area and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are on the list of 19 top places to leave. Redfin also tracks the 10 places people most want to go. No Virginia city makes that list.

The leave list.  These are the 19 cities Redfin claims people most want to leave.  A summary of the reasons cited for wanting to leave is included.

19. Indianapolis, IN – weather, bad roads

18. Spokane, WA – unemployment, weather, homelessness / crime, lack of rental housing, rapidly escalating home costs (+18.5% in a year)

17. Richmond, VA – bad schools, rising housing costs (+9% in a year), having to mingle with General Assembly members two months a year (Ok, my opinion)

16. Des Moines, IA – weather

15. Eugene, OR – cost of living, somewhat high unemployment

14. Champaign, IL – weather, isolation

13. Rockford, IL – unemployment, bad schools, high crime

12. Houston, TX – unemployment, housing costs (+6% in a year), infrastructure (especially flooding)

11. South Bend, IN – weather, crime, bad roads

10. Detroit, MI – unemployment / economic opportunities

9. Milwaukee, WI – income inequality, inadequate public transportation, bad schools

8. Hartford, CT – property taxes (highest in US), home prices (+12.3% in last year), violent crime

7. Seattle, WA – housing costs (average home $712,000), weather

6. Denver, CO – housing costs (average home $450,000), taxes

5. Chicago, IL – weather, traffic, property taxes, cost of living

4. Washington, DC – housing costs, property taxes, cost of living

3. Los Angeles, CA – cost of living, high rents, property taxes, housing prices (average home – $725,000)

2. SanFrancisco, CA – “horrendous” housing costs (average home – $1.43m)

1. New York, NY – cost of living, housing costs, rats

The go to list. These are the 10 cities Redfin says people most want to move to with a summary of reasons included.

10. Raleigh, NC – jobs, weather, cost of living, proximity to beaches and mountains

9. San Diego, CA – “perfect” weather, better cost of living than LA, jobs

8. Tampa, FL – weather, amenities (NFL, NHL, MLB), beaches, cost of living, proximity to theme parks

7. Dallas, TX – friendliness, cost of living, rental prices, housing prices (homes selling for an average of $60,000)

6. Las Vegas, NV – entertainment options, weather, proximity to skiing, real estate more reasonable than LA

5. Miami, FL – weather (sunny but sticky), housing prices relative to NYC

4. Austin, TX – hip place, cost of living (relative to Bay Area), taxes

3. Atlanta, GA – jobs (drawn by low corporate taxes), airport, housing costs (much lower than other metro areas), average home: $325,000

2. Sacramento, CA – cost of living (relative to other west coast cities), housing costs (average home – $335,000)

1. Phoenix, AZ – weather (dry heat), cost of living, housing prices (average house – $262,000), property taxes

The wrap. Redfin is a serious and successful company. Some weight must be given to their analysis. The Moneywise commentary seems a bit whimsical. For example, “no state income tax” is cited as a positive for Austin but not for Dallas.

Approximately 1/2 of the “leave list” is composed of small cities. Eight of the ten “go to list” are relatively large cities. As Virginia considers the possibility of building up small cities like Roanoke it might be wise to understand what’s happening in South Bend or Hartford.

Seeing places like Seattle, Denver and SanFrancisco on the “leave list” is surprising. Those cities have historically been seen as desirable locales. Each has high costs as a negative. As Amazon moves to the Arlington / Alexandria border and Viginia Tech opens its new campus next door are we lighting the fuse of runaway costs of living?

Nobody living in NoVa will be surprised that D.C .area residents spend time researching what it would be like to live elsewhere. The challenges of managing a metro area shared by three distinct governments creates unique problems (such as Metro funding). Virginia’s dysfunctional approach to governance at the state level only makes matters worse. The D.C. area is a mess and it’s getting worse by the day. However, Richmond is something of an enigma. The only negative comment is somewhat fast rising housing costs. That seems like a small reason to see Richmond on the “leave list.”  Maybe there are just too many Richmonders there – lol, kidding.

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12 responses to “Richmond and DC Among Cities People Are Most Eager to Ditch

  1. well, you got the urban CORES where folks would not buy a house ….

    but there’s a BIG – BUT – and that is a little thing called an MSA –

    here’s one:

    here’s another:

    here’s a few more:

    so what exactly is an MSA?

    ” a Metropolitan Statistical Area as one or more adjacent counties or county equivalents that have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.”

    notice that little word: “commuting”.

    They want the jobs but they don’t want to live there…

    You say folks don’t want to live in DC. I’d posit that quite a few folks, juding by the mayhem on I-95 during commute hours, don’t want to live in NoVa either…

    Now – money DOES make the difference for BOTH DC and Richmond because in places inside those cores are some very nice places to live – if you have the money… and if not…. you drive to the exurbs – as far as it takes to qualify for the kind of house you want – that you cannot afford in DC nor NoVa.

  2. I’m not sure of what to make of this list. It reminds me of the old Casey Stengal quote — “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.”

    It would be worth knowing if the Realtor searches were followed up by people actually leaving, as reflected in, say, a declining population. Or declining property values. I don’t think that’s the case in either Washington or Richmond.

    No question, Richmond schools suck, and everyone with kids who can afford to move does move. But most of the time, they just move across the city/county line. The same with D.C., I suspect. But there’s no lack of people to take the place of those who leave.

    • My guess is that it’s website inquiries only, not actual moves. People go online and start looking at houses in other areas. Redfin counts that as possible interest in moving. I think it has some merit. Shows some interest in relocating among potential homeowners. Could be a sign of trouble to come.

      The Indianapolis MSA is up 8.52% between 2010 and 2018 so people may be sitting in their hoses freezing in January thinking about moving to San Diego but, net net, they aren’t leaving. 81 MSAs have lost population between 2010 and 2018. Rockford, IL is among them. People in Rockford are not just looking at houses for sale elsewhere, they are leaving Rockford. The MSAs over 500,000 which lost population are … Youngstown, PA (-4.74%), Syracuse, NY (-1.82%), Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA (-1.45%), Pittsburgh, Pa (-1.34%), Toledo, OH (-1.17%), Cleveland, OH (-0.97%), Rochester, NY (-0.8%), New Haven, CT (-0.56%), Hartford, CT (-0.5%), Buffalo, NY (-0.47%).

      However, the US population was up 5.96% from 2010 to 2018 so a lot more MSAs have been relatively shrinking. 143 MSAs have grown more slowly than the US population.

      In Virginia / Tennessee, Kingsport-Bristol lost population (-0.95%).

      Growing more slowly than the US (in Virginia) – Roanoke (+1.77%), Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+3.1%), Blacksburg-Christianburg (+3.25%), Stauton (+3.8%), Lynchburg (+4.24%)

      Growing faster than the US population in Virginia – Charlottesville (+7.56%), Richmond (+8.12%), Winchester VA/WV (+8.83%), Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (+10.89)

      All of the places on the “go to” list …

      Raleigh (+20.53)
      San Diego (+8.01)
      Tampa (+12.91)
      Dallas (+17.33)
      Las Vegas (+14.37)
      Miami (+11.4)
      Austin (+26.34) Yikes!
      Atlanta (+12.55)
      Sacramento (+9.12)
      Phoenix (+15.8)

      I guess people who surf the net daydreaming about leaving their hometown don’t always move but when they do … the places they daydream about are where they end up.

      As for the comments – I don’t know where they come from. I’m guessing somebody at Moneywise. No complaints about the traffic in DC?

  3. MOST city core school systems are problematical.

    Here’s the New York guy:

    “Soon after he took the helm of the nation’s largest school district last year, Richard A. Carranza made his top priority clear: desegregation.

    He sought to set himself apart from previous New York City schools chancellors and even his own boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, by promising both frank talk about racial inequality and sweeping action.

    At an event for student activists this spring, he slapped the side of a podium and shouted: “No, we will not wait to integrate our schools, we will not wait to dismantle the segregated systems we have!” ”

    Now, WHO would have thought that the NYC schools were “segregated”?

    • Staten Island – 64.0% non-Hispanic White, 10.6% black or African-American, 17.3% Hispanic / Latino of any race.

      Bronx – 45.8% white, 43.3% black or African-American, 54.6% Hispanic / Latino of any race.

      It’s even worse under the covers. The Bronx gets whiter as you go north in the borough.

      Meanwhile, just about everybody with money in New York (people who are disproportionately white and asian) send their kids to private schools. 18% of New York City children attend private schools while 10% attend charter schools. Recent test results confirm that charter school educated children in NYC passed the English and math tests by more than 10% above the public school educated children.

      New York City is segregated. Why would the schools be any different?

  4. re: ” New York City is segregated. Why would the schools be any different?”

    Is that much different than DC or Richmond?

  5. I’m not sure how you get “segregation” by comparing black population to white population ………

    here’s ” Least Segregated U.S. Metros ”

    and here’s the 9 most segregated cities:

    I think suffice to say that the urban cores that have large numbers of poor and people of color are eschewed by folks of higher income and education but that does not necessarily mean that urban cores in general are failing especially if one considers that almost all MSAs are ringed by exurban counties – connected by a beltway and spoke and hub transportation network.

    It’s a pretty simple calculation – better educated folks with good incomes flee from neighborhoods with populations of poor and less educated. They want their kids in “better” schools.

  6. Interesting and contrarian data. It goes against the story of city boosters that millenials are swarming into the district and Richmond.

    • As much as it pains me to admit – Richmond has its act together. In a watered down Virginia kind of way. People seem to like living there – even if they are from elsewhere. The population is growing – at both the city and MSA level. Housing prices are rising (a double edged sword but generally indicative of prosperity). I can only assume that Richmond has enough going for it that putting up with the Richmond elite is acceptable. I still think the self-declared upper crust of Richmond is pretty disgraceful while the ‘average Joe and Josephine’ are quite nice.

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