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Five States Americans Desperately Want to Escape

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Five States Americans Desperately Want to Escape

Five States Americans Desperately Want to Escape
November 26
19:41 2019

Most Americans are anxious for a better life.  They wouldn’t think twice about abandoning their hometown to find better opportunities elsewhere, often in another state.

But not all states are equal.  Some states are hemorrhaging their long-time residents. People can’t wait to leave them, and they have no plans to return.

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Which states are being “dissed” the worst?  United Van Lines, the moving company, has a simple way of measuring the current mass exodus:  Where is our moving business booming?

Here are the top 5 states in ascending order:


Kansas is famous for its amber waves of grain — hence one of its nicknames, the “Wheat State.”  Kansas sunsets are often spectacular.  And with so few cities, the nights are crisply starlit.  But ever since a giant tornado swept Dorothy and her little dog Toto out of the state and landed them in Oz, its residents have gotten the impression that paradise – and better-paying jobs — lie elsewhere.  Unemployment is low but people want more than just security – and they’re no fans of tornados, either.  “There’s no place like home”?  Not.

New York

“Start spreading the news….”  People are leaving the Big Apple in droves (close to 300 daily).  New York is the center of the mid-Atlantic region that people find less and less desirable with each passing day.  It’s too expensive to live in Manhattan, and too stressful, unless you have a summer home upstate or in the Hamptons.

High taxes – the highest in the nation – are another big factor, even for the well-off.  So is the desire to find an attractive retirement spot – in Florida and the Carolinas, above all.  New York once symbolized the pinnacle of ostentatious success, but its glitter is fading.


The issue isn’t New England.  Connecticut’s neighbor, Vermont, is a top destination spot for many migrating Americans.  But residents of the “Constitution State” want out.

More than half of those departing are people nearing retirement age (55 to 64) with incomes of $150,000 or more.  High taxes and crumbling infrastructure have become major annoyances. Home prices haven’t recovered from the recession and medical expenses are enormous.

Connecticut is fighting back, offering those that stay fresh tax incentives, while penalizing those that leave.  It’s not working.


For more than 15 years, residents have left Illinois at a rate of one person every 10 minutes.  The total net migration exceeded 800,000 people from 1995 to 2009.  It’s continued to increase ever since.

Migration has proven costly to the state – about $26 billion taxable income was lost in this period.

Illinois reflects a theme found in all 5 states.  Take taxes.  Estate taxes averaged 73 percent lower in the states to which former Illinoisans moved.  Housing prices were lower.  In addition, receiving states had lower population density and better climates.

 “Sweet Home Chicago”?  That was yesteryear.

New Jersey

“Are you from Jersey?  I’m from Jersey?”  Not anymore, you’re not.  And you’re hoping that your Jersey accent doesn’t tip strangers off.  It’s bad enough to live in Jersey but being from Jersey is no better.  Sure the Boss is a proud Jersey resident, but who else is?  Snookie?

While the search for better jobs does drive people to flee the Garden State, taxes and retirement issues loom especially large. New Jersey is the ninth most tax-burdened state in the country, according to data from financial website WalletHub.

But those higher taxes haven’t helped residents much.  New Jersey has the worst state budget deficit in the nation, and it only gets worse when its heavily-taxed affluent residents flee, causing steep cutbacks in government services for those left behind

Congratulations, New Jersey!  For the 5th straight year, you’re #1!

Those are the major exit states.  Where are people going?  Florida and the Carolinas top the entry list, but so does the Pacific Northwest.  Oregon and Washington, as rainy as they are for so much for the year, are attractive for their natural beauty and high-tech jobs.

And don’t forget tiny Vermont, one of the real outliers.  It’s as cold and Maine and New Hampshire, and taxes are high, so what is it?  The maple syrup or the cheese?  Former socialist mayor Bernie Sanders?  Not likely.

Vermont turns out to be the healthiest state in the nation, with the lowest rates of obesity.  99% of the population has health insurance.  It’s also genuinely rustic, lacking the semblance of a big city.

But in the end, it probably comes down to the people.  No one ever called residents here obnoxious or loudmouth.  One reason?  Lots of people own guns, nearly 30% of state residents, in fact.  And you don’t need a permit, either.  It’s called “Vermont carry.”

About Author

Stewart L

Stewart L

Stewart Lawrence is a trained sociologist and political scientist and a regular columnist for the Washington Times and the Federalist. He is also a former feature contributor to Inside Philanthropy, Counterpunch and the Huffington Post. In 2012 and 2016, he covered the US presidential election campaign for the conservative news magazine Daily Caller. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post. He is currently working on a book about the politics of US immigration policy.

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1 Comment

  1. PalomarJack
    PalomarJack December 01, 17:35

    What about California? Probably because no one left has enough money to leave. That’s why it’s not in the list, I suppose.

    Reply to this comment
    • Hank
      Hank December 03, 00:06

      Good point! It’s in the top 10 on most lists I’ve seen, but not the top 5. Temperate weather may be a factor.

      Reply to this comment

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