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Why people are moving to secondary cities and not regretting it

(AP Photo)

Making the move from a big, expensive city to a smaller, cheaper one has been happening for years, but now it has a name, because so many people are doing it: secondary cities. Locally and across the country, a wave of people are migrating to them, enticed by a lower cost of living, a slower pace of life, and a better chance to buy a home they want.

“It’s interesting that the thing that sometimes stops the person from the primary city in moving to the secondary city is a sense of what you give up,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “My brother always used to argue with me, saying “I moved into the city because I want to be closer to museums, to theater, to the symphony.'”

“And I’d ask, ‘When’s the last time you went to an art museum?'”
“‘Uhhh…'”

“They don’t go, they don’t go to the symphony or the ballet, but they like to know that it’s there in the city so they can feel like if they wanted to utilize it, they would.”

According to the Washington Post, Data from Redfin found that Atlanta, Sacramento, Dallas, and Phoenix are a few of the so-called secondary cities seeing the largest influx of residents. This has been the pattern locally as well, with the more than 100,000 people leaving King County each year, and heading to Snohomish and Pierce counties, according to The Seattle Times.

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In moving, they’re often choosing to trade big city stress in return for a higher quality of life.

“You get twice the house, your salary goes twice as far,” said co-host Tom Tangney. “It makes perfect sense why people are moving out of the big cities because they’re too expensive to live in and moving to secondary cities, with some pride.”

“I guess the question is: are there jobs that can support you. A lot of people might like the slower lifestyle, but they may not have the kinds of jobs that big cities tend to have and small cities don’t.”

San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago posted the highest outflows, and Seattle saw more Redfin users looking to leave than move to the area — since Redfin began tracking the data in 2017.

How secondary cities are being transformed by the influx

It may be hard to remember, but Seattle was once what someone might consider a secondary city. Not so much anymore.

“The irony is that a lot of these cities — places like Nashville, Phoenix, and Sacramento — what they are experiencing is what Seattle has already experienced. Seattle was a great break for people living in the Bay Area or LA; your dollar went a lot further in Seattle,” Tom said.

“Well now, the same kind of issues that we’re having — pricing ourselves out of our home town — that’s now starting to happen in these secondary cities.”

Perhaps tertiary cities will be the next thing.

Still, they remain much cheaper than coastal big cities, and offer a pace of living and quality of life that offers a real alternative to the big city stress. Curley recalled a conversation he had the other day with former Seahawk Mack Strong, who moved from the Seattle area to Pullman.

“I asked him how it is. And he goes, ‘You know? I love it. It took a little while to adjust, the kids had a problem but now they’re OK with it. It’s really slow paced.'”

“‘The only time you have conflict is if you come in at a certain pace and run into this pace, you’ll have friction. But once you take your idle down and slow it to fit in with everybody else, it’s a really nice place to live.'”

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