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Small cities to watch in 2024: Why these 4 underrated locales are drawing movers from big cities

Jordan Pandy   

Small cities to watch in 2024: Why these 4 underrated locales are drawing movers from big cities
  • Some movers are giving up on Los Angeles and Dallas for smaller cities in Texas and Nevada.
  • These inland destinations have a lower cost of living and other perks like accessible nature.

As major cities from New York to Austin continue to grow pricier, movers are turning their sights to a spate of regional hubs that offer some of the perks of city living — but for a cheaper price tag.

Some of these cities are rebranding in what they're known for, and others offer extras to show off what they're about. One common thread that ties these cities together is the cost of living, often lower than in popular cities but without a dropoff in quality of life.

Take Las Vegas, where Californians are decamping to escape more costly real estate and income tax; New Braunfels, Texas, a city attracting more movers than Austin or Dallas with its affordability and jobs; Topeka, Kansas, which is luring movers looking for an alternative to bigger cities nearby; and Provo, Utah, which despite flying under the radar is consistently named one of the best places to live.

They're places in-the-know real-estate aficionados should keep on the tips of their tongues — and even consider if a move is on the horizon.

Las Vegas has more to offer than the Strip

Las Vegas may be known as "Sin City," but life there for most residents is a lot less flashy than the city's reputation.

Richard Katz, 66, left Virginia, where he and his wife lived for over 20 years, to retire to the Nevada desert town.

"Las Vegas is a place that doesn't have natural disasters and has great weather and is a place that, if you retire, there are plenty of things to do," Katz told Business Insider. Katz moved there in 2022.

Outside of the Strip, Las Vegas has big-city perks like fine dining and entertainment, robust hiking, and outdoor activities to keep any outdoor enthusiast happy. The cherry on top is the relatively affordable real estate compared to other cities.

"If you're not investing in Vegas, you might regret it," Las Vegas-based real-estate agent Andrew Arevalo told BI in November.

This middle-of-America city will pay you up to $15,000 to move there

Kansas's state capital is luring movers with a relocation program that grants up to $15,000 to homebuyers or up to $10,000 to renters just for choosing Topeka.

That lump sum of cash got some movers in the door, but the booming job market and relatively affordable housing are keeping them there.

Take Adam Outlaw, who moved to Topeka from Boston in 2021. Outlaw told BI in March 2021 that he saves 75% on rent in Topeka while gaining "considerably" more space for himself.

"Being able to move around freely and park in a driveway is something I do not take for granted anymore," he said.

A small town in Texas is attracting more movers than Austin and Dallas

People flock to the Lone Star state, but not always to the usual destinations. New Braunfels, Texas, attracts more movers than Austin and Dallas today with its relatively affordable homes and dearth of job opportunities.

Real-estate agent Anna Lagos moved to Texas from California in 2014 and tried out cities like San Antonio and Austin, but didn't find them as affordable as she needed. Moving to New Braunfels allowed Lagos to live out her American dream.

"The opportunities were much greater for us in Texas than they were in California," Lagos, who bought a 2,700-square-foot home in New Braunfels for $325,000, told BI. "We always wanted to own a home. It was pretty evident that we'd have to work for many years before we'd be able to purchase one in California."

This town in Utah is consistently named one of the best places to live

Cold-weather capitals like Denver and Salt Lake City got a lot of buzz during the pandemic as movers relocated to cities with many outdoor activities. Now movers are finding the same perks and a robust job market in Provo, Utah.

Provo is nestled in an area called the "Silicon Slopes," where tech giants like Adobe, Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon have offices.

With home prices around $450,000 — just a tick higher than the national median of $408,537 — buyers from elsewhere can find a relatively affordable home right by the ski slopes.

"You can go snowboarding all morning, come back down, and still get to work by 11," Jean Tanner, a local real-estate agent, told BI.

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