Moving Decisions: Is It Time to Leave Chicago?

August 19, 2020 Blue For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of House.

Did you know that 2019 marked the sixth consecutive year that the population of Illinois fell? Or, that the number one reason for the population decline was resident moving to a new state, moving out of their comfort zones and trying something different?

Much of the exodus out of Illinois is coming from Chicago. Why?

For a variety of reasons further exacerbated by COVID-19. These reasons include everything from the high cost of living to traffic, harsh weather, and persistent inner-city violence.

From 2014 to 2018, 1,628,866 residents left Illinois. That’s an increase of 15.6 percent over the period from 2009 to 2013.

Keep reading to learn more about the trend out of Chicago and some factors you should consider before making a move — whether that means moving to a new state, moving to a new city, or even deciding to stay put

The Top Reasons People Are Leaving Chicago

There are many reasons people cite as motivators for their departure from Chicago. They include:

  • Lack of economic investment
  • Harsh winters
  • The high cost of living
  • Traffic
  • Crime
  • The pandemic
  • The shift towards remote work
  • Real estate prices

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and whether they might motivate you to seek greener pastures.

Lack of Economic Investment

Chicago has plenty of problems these days. They include a lack of jobs, a poorly structured tax system, and a lack of infrastructure investment.

Intensifying these problems? The fact many residents feel local officials act out-of-touch and ineffectual in dealing with these issues. What’s more, Chicago’s general obligation debt backed by property taxes is roughly $3,680 per resident or $9.9 billion.

That’s a significant sum for homeowners to shell out when they feel local officials do little to recognize, let alone meet their needs.

Harsh Winters

In Chicago, winters prove long and brutal. If climate change predictions prove accurate, Chicago will see even more extreme weather in the years to come. That doesn’t sound like anybody’s picnic.

After all, who wants to deal with crazy weather phenomena like frost quakes, frostbite, thermal whiplash, and instant frostbite? (We’re not making these up!)

Considering how cold weather during the winter months already impact local businesses, schools, and driving conditions, many individuals simply find the chilling temperatures to be too much.

The High Cost of Living

While the cost of living in Chicago remains less expensive than some urban centers such as New York and San Francisco, few would call it an affordable place to live. For example, rent and taxes prove high.

You also have to budget for paid parking and high restaurant bills. Overall, Chicagoans shell out 23 percent more than other Americans for living expenses. It’s little wonder people continue to leave in droves.

Chicago Traffic

For those considering a move out of Chicago, dense traffic represents another motivating factor. Of course, traffic proves terrible in all metropolitan areas. But Chicago has taken it to the next level.

It ranks high on the list of cities with the worst traffic. This fact translates into plenty of lost time for drivers.

Chicagoans spend 25 percent more time in their vehicles than other Americans. That’s a significant chunk of time that could be passed in more pleasurable ways than gridlock traffic.

Crime in the City

Every big city comes with a certain amount of crime. Unfortunately, Chicago has taken center stage in this respect, too. This year, 464 people have died due to violent crime, an increase of 135 over 2019. Protests and looting have also become commonplace in recent months.

While homicides and other crimes remain concentrated in the South and West sides, they can happen anywhere within the city.

Nothing has driven this point home more than Chicago’s Magnificent Mile looting by rioters in mid-August. Or, the shootout that happened in front of high-end boutiques on Oak Street at the beginning of August.

These events, coupled with the soaring murder rate, have Chicago’s estimated 100,000 downtown residents on pins and needles. Many see their beautiful city slipping into chaos, and they want to avoid getting swept up in what feels like a tidal wave.

The Pandemic

To top all of this off, COVID-19 has put life in perspective for many Chicagoans. Illinois has reported 210,924 confirmed cases and 7,994 COVID-19 deaths.

Unlike their counterparts in less populated parts of the country, residents of the “Windy City” have been confined to dense apartment buildings for months. As it turns out, urbanity provides little relief from the worst constraints of social distancing.

Of course, living in a crowded metropolis is the last place anyone wants to be during a pandemic. Residing among a dense population means a higher risk of contracting the deadly virus.

Life without the amenities of city living (e.g., theaters, the arts, festivals) and all of its drab realities have made many reconsider their current locations.

Nearly 40 percent of city dwellers are contemplating a move to rural areas — whether moving to a new state, moving to a smaller town with the same state, or something similar. What’s more, 43 percent have actively searched for apartments and homes outside of large cities.

The Shift Towards Remote Work

The pandemic has also created an important economic shift, which we won’t know the full implications of for years to come. With so many workers employed remotely, they have greater flexibility when it comes to where they live and work.

Don’t expect these workers to head back to the office once the pandemic is over, either. A lasting impact of COVID-19 will be more remote workers than ever before.

Because of their newfound geographic freedom, they won’t feel compelled to deal with life in cities like Chicago anymore. In essence, the pandemic will accelerate the trend to escape Chicago. After all, very dense urbanization has historically driven pandemic casualties.

Real Estate Prices

Cities such as Phoenix, Arizona, are already reporting a massive influx of workers from large cities. These out-of-towners are working remotely. As a result, they have different priorities than they did in the pre-COVID-19 days.

Now, big backyards and home offices are hot amenities in real estate. For between $350,000 and $600,000, they can get these features in smaller towns and cities. It’s a better alternative to Chicago’s sky-high real estate prices.

On average, Chicagoans pay $675,000 more for a house downtown. That’s the highest median sale price difference between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods in the US.

No longer tethered to one location, America’s remote workers don’t have to endure the hassles of big city living. The country’s already-shifting demographics attest to this fact.

Where Are Chicagoans Relocating?

Like other big city dwellers who want to escape the metropolis, Chicagoans are relocating to places like Phoenix, Arizona. They’re also considering Las Vegas, Nevada, and cities in California, such as Sacramento and Palm Springs.

What’s more, low mortgage rates and changes in what individuals are looking for are motivating these moves. For example, people feel incentivized to relocate closer to family and more affordable locations.

How do these locations compare price-wise? Let’s take a look at median sale prices for cities considered desirable for a move from Chicago.

Attractive Median Sale Prices

Phoenix boasts a median sale price of $310,000 and saw an influx of 9,428 new residents during the second quarter of 2020. The vast majority of these new arrivals relocated from Chicago.

As for Sacramento, California? Home prices sit at $445,000, and the state witnessed a net inflow of 8,935 in the second quarter of 2020.

Las Vegas, Nevada offers affordable home options in a sunny location with exceptional weather year-round. The median sale price is $309,000 and has seen 7,136 new residents flow in.

Austin, Texas, boasts a median sale price of $341,795 and experienced the relocation of 6,770 residents in Q2 2020. Atlanta, Georgia, now attracts thousands of new residents each year with an attractive median sale price of $296,900.

Other cities Chicagoans are considering due to reasonable median sale prices and other factors include:

  • Dallas, Texas
  • Miami, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Charlotte, North Carolina

In each case, median sale prices prove far more reasonable than those Chicagoans face living in the downtown area. What’s more, individuals who leave Chicago enjoy larger homes with home offices and big backyards in their new locations.

They no longer have to worry about traffic and commutes, and crime statistics are far lower in these destinations.

Americans Trending to Smaller Cities

For all of the reasons mentioned above, Chicagoans continue to leave the city for smaller, more affordable locations. And they’re not alone.

Other big-city residents from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston are eyeing smaller cities. One in four remote workers now expects to continue working from home post-pandemic. If their predictions prove correct, 50 percent will leave big cities for good.

What’s more, even if the remote work trend doesn’t play out full-time, people will move. Why? Because even part-time remote workers can relocate to suburban areas with bigger houses and better amenities while keeping their commute time relatively static.

When it’s all said and done, what’s the number one reason workers want to leave big cities? The opportunity to live somewhere less expensive. When you add other factors such as crime into the mix, you’ve got a potent demographics driver away from expensive coastal areas.

Checklist for Moving to a New State, Moving To A New City

Since you’re reading this article, we’d wager you’re considering relocating out of one of America’s largest cities. What are some things you should consider as you explore moving to a new state?

  • Create a budget for your relocation
  • Visit the city you’re interested in
  • Research the job market of that city
  • Determine the neighborhoods where you’d be comfortable living
  • Find and purchase a home
  • Hire a moving company
  • Transfer your utilities
  • Transfer your medical records
  • Change your address
  • Arrange automobile transport
  • Establish a new residency
  • Register your pet
  • Get a driver’s license

While by no means exhaustive, the checklist above will get you started on a smooth interstate transition. You’ll begin the next chapter of your life with less stress and more time to focus on your new adventure.

Car Moving: Chicago

It’s easy to get caught up in the task of moving your personal belongings from one state to another. But don’t neglect the vital step of hiring a car hauling service for your vehicles.

After all, the last thing you want to add to your plate amid a move is the stress of moving cars long distances. Driving a vehicle thousands of miles puts a severe strain on your vehicle, too.

Fortunately, you can avoid this hassle by working with an experienced, reliable car shipping company. While you might assume driving the vehicle yourself (or having a friend or family member do it) will prove less expensive, think again.

Once you factor in gas prices, maintenance expenses, vehicle wear and tear, food, and lodging, you’ll have a significant bill. What’s more, how do you place a price on the time you’ll save by letting a professional driver get your automobile from point A to point B?

Get a free, no-obligation quote on car shipping now.

Other Reasons to Consider Car Shipping

Interstate car shipping also makes sense from a safety standpoint. Annually, 38,000 die in traffic accidents on American roads. What’s more, an additional 4.4 million face serious injuries requiring medical attention.

You’ll save yourself immeasurable time, stress, money, and risk by hiring a company to handle your car transport needs. Here are seven important questions to ask before hiring a car transport company.

What if you’re toying with the idea of selling your current vehicle and purchasing a new one in your relocation state? Here’s everything that you need to know about whether to ship your car or sell it.

Chicagoans Moving to a New State

Are you tired of living in the “Windy City” or another big city? If so, you’re not alone.

Fortunately, there are many affordable, desirable smaller cities in the US worth your consideration. Places like Phoenix and Austin allow you to escape harsh weather, high crime, and gouging taxes.

What’s more, with the checklist above, you have the basis for a streamlined experience moving to a new state.

Are you interested in learning more about the ins and outs of shipping your car across the country? Check out our top tips to get your car safely from one state to another.