NEW YORK - May 21, 2009 - With the unemployment rate climbing as the national economy sags, more people are searching for communities that offer greater economic opportunity and a better standard of living. To help, Relocation.com, the leading online consumer resource for moving services, has compiled its list of "Best Cities for a Fresh Start."
Unlike many lists that focus solely on the economy, Relocation.com took a wide-ranging look at factors that would appeal to someone looking for a fresh start: city 'popularity' based on consumer requests for moving quotes to move to that city; economic-growth prospects; home affordability; and the strength of a community as reflected by volunteerism rates.
Austin achieved the top spot with its high ranking on each of those criteria. Buoyed by a vibrant tech community and anchored by government institutions such as the University of Texas and the state capitol, Austin ranked in the top 10 for popularity, job growth and its volunteerism rate, and a higher ranking for home affordability.
It was followed by the Dallas/Fort Worth area, an economically diverse region that benefits from Texas' energy riches - and also by the fact that its housing market didn't get too inflated during the big run-up in housing prices. In the third spot is Charlotte, N.C., which has a more diverse economy, with strength in finance, and high rankings for popularity and volunteerism.
The top 20 cities:
1. Austin, Texas
2. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
3. Charlotte, N.C.
4. Denver, Colo.
5. Columbus, Ohio (tie)
5. Indianapolis, Ind. (tie)
7. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, Md.
8. Atlanta, Ga.
9. Oklahoma City, Okla.
10. Houston, Texas (tie)
10. Las Vegas, Nev. (tie)
10. Seattle, Wash. (tie)
13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. (tie)
13. Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (tie)
15. San Antonio, Texas
16. Portland, Ore.
17. Cincinnati, Ohio
18. Pittsburgh, Pa.
19. Memphis, Tenn.
20. Cleveland, Ohio
"Studies have shown that many people don't like where they live. At the same time, a lot of people are looking for work, whether they're unemployed now or fearing layoffs. It's a scary time, but for some it might be a good time to think about starting over. So, we identified some good locations to consider for people looking to start with a clean slate in a new community," says Sharon Asher, chairman and founder, Relocation.com.
Relocation.com looked at communities with more than 1 million people. Although many midsized cities are flourishing, they tend to be tied to a single industry or a government agency, while larger cities generally have more diverse economic bases. The list was determined by four criteria, each of which was weighted equally.
Popular cities: Relocation.com’s moving request data was used to determine the cities that people want to move to, based on the per-capita number of quotes for moving services requested to particular communities in 2008 and year-to-date 2009.
Although an influx of people can put pressure on local resources, these newcomers also bring new ideas, skills and outlooks that can spark economic development and strengthen communal ties. A 'churn' of newcomers is vital for a community.
Economic prospects: Forbes.com's list of the Best Places for Businesses and Careers was used to determine the cities with the greatest job growth prospects over the next three years. The list was published in March 2009.
Affordable housing: Figures from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index were used to determine the best housing opportunities. This report looks at more than 200 of the country's largest metropolitan areas and determines the percentage of homes sold in the latest quarter that were affordable to the median average family in that area – the higher the percentage, the more affordable housing is to the greatest number of people.
High volunteerism rates: The current recession is radically changing the economic and social landscape. With fewer resources at their disposable, many people will depend more on their neighbors for their economic and social livelihoods.
Relocation.com looked at volunteerism rates from the Corporation of National Community and Service, an independent federal agency whose board of directors and CEO are appointed by the president. Communities with high volunteerism rates tend to be stronger with lower crime rates, and greater volunteerism rates can mean less need for government spending on providing those services. It is healthier too: people who volunteer have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression than the general population, according to the Corporation.
For more about how the top 20 communities ranked on the four criteria, please visit the Relocation.com blog: http://www.relocation.com/blog/relocationcoms-top-cities-for-a-fresh-start.
Relocation.com is the largest online marketplace connecting consumers who are moving locally, nationally or internationally with professionals that can best service their needs. Working with many leading moving and storage companies, Relocation.com provides free quotes from quality, professional companies who can service consumers during their upcoming move. It is focused on helping make the relocation process easier and less challenging for the 40 million people moving each year. Relocation.com offers comprehensive information, tools and resources to help consumers compare, connect and learn about products and services from hundreds of relevant providers. Ranked No. 18 of the top 50 media companies on the 2008 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, the company was founded in 2000 by online moving industry pioneer, chairman Sharon (Ron) Asher, and is based in New York. For more information, visit www.relocation.com.