The 10 American cities that saw the most residents flee at the height of the coronavirus pandemic

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImatesPeople loading a moving truck in Manhattan on September 12, 2020.
  • Millions of Americans have requested mail-forwarding services amid the coronavirus pandemic, signalling people relocating in droves.
  • MyMove analysed US Postal Service data and found that Americans moving between February and July mostly fled urban cores for more suburban areas, like tiny Texas towns.
  • The country’s largest cities, like New York City, emptied first.
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Big cities have been the clear losers of the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of Americans moved away from urban cores in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The rise of remote work has spurred many to consider searching for more idyllic work-from-home locales that offer an escape from the high cost of city living.

A MyMove analysis of US Postal Service data found that almost 16 million Americans moved between February and July of this year. Mail-forwarding requests made to USPS in that time frame confirmed reports of urban exodus.The majority of the requests came from the country’s largest cities. New York City topped the list, having lost over 110,000 residents just between February and July.

More have undoubtedly left since then, and some of the reported moves were short-term. Overall, temporary change-of-address requests were up 27% in 2020 versus 2019, while permanent change-of-address requests were up just 2%.

While places like New York and California will remain essential to business in the future, other locales are popping up as possibly major new business centres, like Austin, Texas and South Florida. As hundreds of thousands are fleeing Manhattan, San Francisco, Houston and more, thousands are decamping to suburbs. Texas suburbs seem to have gained the most residents.

Here’s a look at which cities lost the largest number of residents amid the coronavirus pandemic:


10. Fort Meyers, Florida

Jillian Cain/ShutterstockFort Myers, Florida.

Number of residents lost: 11,889

Population in 2019: 87,103


9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rachel Wisniewski/ReutersPhiladelphia City Hall is pictured on September 29, 2020.

Number of residents lost: 12,833

Population in 2019: 1.58 million


8. Houston, Texas

Trong Nguyen / ShutterstockA view of downtown Houston.

Number of residents lost: 14,883

Population in 2019: 2.3 million


7. Washington, DC

Photographer is my life./Getty ImagesA view of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Number of residents lost: 15,520

Population in 2019: 705,749


6. Naples, Florida

ShutterstockAn aerial shot of Naples, Florida.

Number of residents lost: 22,100

Population in 2019: 384,902


5. Los Angeles, California

Mark J. Terril/AP PhotoThe Echo Park Lake recreation area in Los Angeles, California, on May 23, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Number of residents lost: 26,438

Population in 2019: 4 million


4. San Francisco, California

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAn aerial view of an empty Powell Street Cable Car turnaround on March 30, 2020 in San Francisco, California.

Number of residents lost: 27,187

Population in 2019: 881,549


3. Chicago, Illinois

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesThe Bean, one of the city’s prime tourist attractions, closed to visitors in March.

Number of residents lost: 31,347

Population in 2019: 2.7 million


2. Brooklyn, New York

David Slotnick/Business InsiderA view of Brooklyn Bridge amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Number of residents lost: 43,006

Population in 2019: 2.6 million


1. Manhattan, New York

ReutersA street cleaner walks through the Broadway theatre district near Times Square in Manhattan on May 24, 2020.

Number of residents lost: 110,978

Population in 2019: 1.6 million

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