Thousands of residents in US cities left their homes to seek a better quality of life, citing hostile political climates as a pervasive reason for their moves. The coronavirus pandemic made it easy for residents to flee the cities which they used to call home because so many were working remotely. Millions of Americans ended 2020 living at different addresses then where they began.
"We thought about leaving Seattle the past couple years, but we weren't ready," said Jenkins who recently moved from the Pacific Northwest city to Idaho to CNN. "The weather is a big improvement. The traffic is better. It is very welcoming. People are strangely friendly."
At issue for Jenkins were the ongoing protests in Seattle over the summer of 2020 where Antifa militants and Black Lives Matter activists marched and rioted against police brutality. "It was my tipping point," Jenkins said.
Jenkins wasn’t the only resident to flee Seattle after violent protests that rocked the city for a period of months in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis on May 25.
"The pendulum of the political environment really swung in the past 10 years," Rick Halstead told CNN. Halstead left Seattle for Idaho as well, and for him it was also a result of the pandemic, protests, and decline in quality of life.
"There were more and more protests, which would snarl traffic. Opioid problems. Homelessness. Crime. It was encroaching where we lived," Halstead said.
A Keller-Williams real estate agent in Boise, Idaho, Barbara Dopp, recorded her best sales ever in 2020. Most of her sales were from people moving to Idaho from different states.
"I had people calling me, primarily from California and Washington, and they would say, 'I just have to get out,'" Dopp said to CNN. "We are a conservative state and people are attracted to that."
Seattle residents aren't the only ones seeking new places to call home. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), New York and California reportedly lost the most residents. Contracts from Atlas Van Lines and U-Haul show that people who chose to move to a new state relocated away from the nation's most populated cities.
The president of Atlas Van Lines, Barry Schellenberg, emphasized "It could be the cost of living, tax rates or the political climate, perhaps" for the increase in moves.
According to the NAR, this pattern is expected to continue upwards into 2021.