Salt Lake City was named one of the best places to ‘start fresh.’ Here’s why

Raleigh, North Carolina, was recently named the number-one city to move to for a fresh start.
Raleigh, North Carolina, was recently named the number-one city to move to for a fresh start. | Drew Perales, Unsplash

A new study from This Old House names the top places for people seeking a fresh start, and it praises growing cities like Raleigh, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City.

The study surveyed 1,000 Americans and used data from Zillow and the U.S. Census Bureau to determine which qualities are most important to people looking for a new city and which of the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas best meet those criteria.

The results suggested people are mainly looking for financial success, a social life and a good environment. It found that most of the cities that best provide those opportunities are in the South and Southeast — Salt Lake City was the only city in the West to make the top 10.


Why do so many Americans want a fresh start?

More than 8 in 10 of those surveyed said they wanted a fresh start, which could include changes to their careers, lifestyles, relationships and personal development. Those surveyed named a number of reasons they wanted a fresh start, but the most common ones were a desire to achieve financial stability and chance to meet new people.

Motivations differed slightly based on gender. The survey reported women were more likely to report unhappiness with their current situation as a reason for wanting a fresh start, while men were more likely to be concerned with reinventing themselves.

What makes a city a good place to start fresh?

Of those surveyed who said they desired a fresh start, the majority said they would be willing to move to make that happen. The top considerations mentioned when asked about looking for a new city to live in were related to finances and the environment; the four most popular criteria were affordability, air quality, weather and employment opportunities.

Infrastructure and social life also play an important role in choosing where to live, according to the survey. A city’s walkability, the number of shops and restaurants, public transportation and community resources helped the survey determine a city’s overall atmosphere. Factors like active nightlife and the number of single people helped researchers rate a city’s social scene.

What is the worst city to move to?

The study named Los Angeles the worst city in the U.S. to move to for those desiring a fresh start, considering its high cost of living, high unemployment rate and poor air quality.

What are the best cities to move to?

Raleigh, North Carolina, was named the best city for starting fresh thanks to its low cost of living, low unemployment rate and good air quality. It also has the second-highest number of walking trails of the 50 metro areas considered in the study.

Austin, Texas, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, rounded out the top three for similar reasons, including a low risk of climate hazards.

Salt Lake City was rated No. 7 but is notable for having the lowest unemployment rate of any city on the list as of September 2023.

According to the survey, the top 10 cities to move to for a fresh start are:

  1. Raleigh, North Carolina.

  2. Austin, Texas.

  3. Virginia Beach, Virginia.

  4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

  5. Charlotte, North Carolina.

  6. Jacksonville, Florida.

  7. Salt Lake City, Utah.

  8. Richmond, Virginia.

  9. San Antonio, Texas.

  10. New Orleans, Louisiana.