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Is the grass greener?

February 5, 2009

Survey Finds Grass Is Greener on the Other Side

The results of a survey exploring attitudes related to where Americans would like to live show that the grass is definitely greener on the other side of the fence.

About 46 percent of people would prefer to live in a different type of community from the one they live in now, the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends found. That sentiment was most common among urban dwellers.

But the desire to move elsewhere doesn’t stop people from appreciating their current locale. About 80 percent rank their current communities as excellent, very good or good. Both the 63 percent who have moved at least once and the 37 percent who have lived in the same place all their lives are equally satisfied with their current locations.

Other findings include:

  • Americans are all over the map in their views about their ideal community type: 30 percent say they would most like to live in a small town, 25 percent in a suburb, 23 percent in a city and 21 percent in a rural area.
  • About 75 percent of Americans say they prefer living where the pace of life is slow, not fast. A similar majority prefers a place where neighbors know each other well to one where neighbors don’t generally know each other’s business.
  • About 65 percent say they prefer to live in a hot-weather climate rather than a cold one.
  • Fast food gets the nod with 43 percent preferring to live in a place with more McDonald’s outlets vs. the 35 percent who would rather have more Starbucks shops.

Asked to rank cities where they would live if they could, nearly everyone chose warm weather locations in the South or the West. Here are their top 15 picks:

1. Denver, 43 percent
2. San Diego, 40 percent
3. Seattle, 38 percent
4. Orlando, 34 percent
5. Tampa, 34 percent
6 San Francisco, 34 percent
7. Phoenix, 33 percent
8. Portland, Ore., 31 percent
9. Sacramento, 29 percent
10 .San Antonio, 29 percent
11. Boston, 28 percent
12. Miami, 28 percent
13. Atlanta, 26 percent
14. Washington, DC, 25 percent
15. New York, 24 percent

Source: Pew Research Center (01/29/2009)

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