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Where Chicagoans Actually Go When They Move Away

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Oct 2, 2015 1:55PM

We hear them all the time, but perhaps more so after a particularly rough winter: They're the voices of Chicagoans who swear they've had enough—whether it's enough of the cold, or enough of the taxes, or enough of the climbing gun violence count, or enough of the debate between deep dish and thin crust pizza—and announce they are moving away, for good.

But where exactly do Chicagoans go when they have had enough of Chicago? A Crain's analysis of new census data released last month has some insight into this question.

One possibly surprising takeaway from the data: Chicagoans aren't usually moving very far. Of the top 10 moving destinations, two are in Illinois and five are still in the Midwest—so much for the theory that they want to escape the cold. The top metro area where Chicagoans moved between 2009 and 2013 was Champaign-Urbana. Phoenix, Arizona was the second-most popular destination (so, okay, some people are heading for warmer climes) and New York City was the third-most popular destination.

The complete list:
1. 7,355 people moved to Champaign-Urbana
2. 7,251 people moved to Phoenix, Arizona
3. 6,435 people moved to New York
4. 6,410 people moved to Milwaukee
5. 5,554 people moved to Los Angeles
6. 5,275 people moved to Atlanta
7. 5,260 people moved to Indianapolis
8. 5,252 people moved to Houston (Remember, Houston is angling to kick Chicago out of the designation of America's third-largest city)
9. 5,092 people moved to Bloomington, Illinois
10. 5,029 people moved to St. Louis, Missouri

While a whopping estimate of 255,450 people left the Chicago area from 2009 to 2013, Chicago at least gained some 176,200 new residents—mostly from the same cities from the list of places where the most Chicago ex-pats go. The main difference: Houston did not make the top ten list of cities people are leaving for Chicago—but Detroit did.