Slate: Young People Favor Rust Belt over Sun Belt (!!!)

Richard Florida and the Brookings Institution examined some demographic data and came to the conclusion that young people are losing favor with places like Las Vegas and Phoenix. Instead, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and St. Louis are attracting more young professionals, according to the report.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

So you’re probably thinking, what about all my high school friends who are scattered across the South and Southwest? At least that’s what I’m thinking.

But it’s true that I moved to Cleveland two years ago, willingly. And we’ve had a handful of people step up to write posts for us about moving from Florida to Pittsburgh, etc.

Pittsburgh, hipster magnet?

I know I would totally love to live in Baltimore or Pittsburgh. And I know I would totally hate to live in Phoenix or Las Vegas. But I thought that was because I am weird.

Hmm. We’ll see how this develops. What a sea change that would be.

Still doing well in the South, according to the report: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle.

Phoenix, Las Vegas, not so much.

The common ingredient in the successful cities was quality of life and, in the North, civic reform efforts, Slate says.



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12 responses to “Slate: Young People Favor Rust Belt over Sun Belt (!!!)

  1. Sean Posey

    I’d like to hear from some people who have been successful in finding jobs in places like St. Louis and Baltimore. I know the job market is very tight in most every city in Ohio and Michigan.

  2. Sarah Hartley

    Maybe it’s because all of the “old’ people movint to the Sun Belt.

  3. Jim

    I just moved to Willoughby outside of Cleveland from Youngstown. I don’t think it’s too odd since most people don’t want to drive all their junk down south. I know many people, including a family member or two who are now lonely and do not know anyone down in Florida, Texas, Arizona, etc.

  4. There’s no denying a tough job market, but that’s a nationwide thing. One thing that these older cities have going for them is a renewed entrepreneurial spirit. These places have a wealth of outstanding urban commercial corridors that lend themselves very well to artistic/creative reuse. What’s more– it’s dirt cheap (compared to more popular cities). A perfect illustration of this potential is Cherokee Street on St. Louis’s South Side. Once a thriving streetcar commercial district, the are suffered neglect and decline over the past 50 years, consistent with the overall decline of the city. In the last 10 years, however, artists, printmakers, creative collectives and various startup businesses have moved in to vacant storefronts alongside a relatively new crop of Latino immigrants, creating a burgeoning concentration of new life to the street. I know similar stories are playing out in Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the like. Screw the Sunbelt. The weathered cities of the Rustbelt have more authenticity and creative spirit than any other region in the USA. They are works of art in and of themselves.

  5. Special K

    I similarly prefer the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, but also thought that was because I was weird and also just because I grew up in this region.

  6. Sam

    There should be a movement – move back home (or at least nearer to home). There are many former rustbelters in the coastal cities who think about it at least once a day.

  7. LisaS

    I’m a native of the South, & while I miss sweet tea, SEC football on free tv, & clear skies in winter, I moved to St. Louis because of the wisdom of the City’s forefathers in building a beautiful, substantial, walkable city that 50 years of neglect couldn’t destroy. also, the area has a tradition of free cultural institutions, so a young person with a modest job can enjoy good art museums and other amenities that are costly in other places. There’s lots of opportunity here for those with entrepreneurial spirit & creativity – and yes, jobs, particularly in medical & biotech.

  8. Special K

    I keep hearing so many great things about St. Louis. So glad I will be going there soon to check it out for myself!

  9. evad

    So…uhm… please pay no heed to this story. Uhmm, nope nothing to see here in St. Louis, please fly over. Oh. Did you ask what am I paying to rent a gigantic storefront in a historic district? A mere $400 a month? No. Of course not.

  10. Er … the South includes Seattle and Denver? Both lie north of St. Louis, although I understand that Denver (not Seattle) is usually included in the “Sun Belt” or “Southwest” categories.

  11. William

    The good thing about a place like St. Louis is that it already has things like light rail, brick townhouses and rowhouses, and walkable neighborhood business districts. It’s also not so far from large tracts of forests and spring fed rivers.

  12. Mel

    I moved around a lot after college and I totally thought I would love the sun belt – in fact I put everything into loving it. I hated it. The only sun belt place I could deal with was Colorado. The cost of living was high, the quality of life just wasn’t what I was expecting. I left St. Louis thinking I would never come back but the kind of opportunities and communities just weren’t really present in most places. In St. Louis the job market sucks but at least there are strong young artist and social communities. Another thing I really missed were community bars – which foster a unique sense of community around them. I would rather be working a crowd to find the job I will really love than working for a paycheck to pay 1/4th of the rent in an apartment in Vegas. I hear there are awesome thing to do if all my money goes to paying a portion of rent and feeding myself, I can’t say I would know.
    I do miss Fort Collins and Denver, especially on grey rainy days – and when there are mountains of snow outside and nowhere to ski. It’s a sacrifice I can live with since my husband and I own our home, can survive with one car, I can go back to school, take some time to re-direct my career, and still have plenty of cheap date options.

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