What Makes Some Americans Regret the Big-City Exodus

By: Anneken Tappe · April 17, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Urban Upheaval

Since the height of the pandemic, Americans have left big cities en masse. But while many left behind high rents for smaller dwellings, they also walked away from some big city benefits.

Searching for a lower cost of living, and more space, Americans began leaving cities amid pandemic-era lockdowns and the rise of remote work. But in the post-pandemic new normal, many job opportunities remain in urban hubs.

Relocation Regrets

Even with the emergence of flexible work arrangements, big cities tend to offer more job opportunities compared to smaller towns. Market size matters, and those moving to a smaller labor market can face notable career challenges, including underemployment or lower job satisfaction, given the limited options available. A smaller town may also limit your networking ability, which could further hamper your long-term career prospects. On top of that, larger cities are often more diverse, which may be appealing to workers, as well as employers seeking talent.

Bigger cities are also often hubs for specific fields, such as finance or tech, which affects the number of career and job options available to workers. The rise of remote work was a great geographic leveler in the hunt for talent, but many industries continue to be weighted heavily towards bigger cities.

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