There’s an increasing divide between the city and rural populations in America. That’s not too much of a surprise; most people could probably figure that out by looking at election results maps. Part of the reason for the divide? The population in the United States is not distributed equally at all. It’s not even close. The East Coast is more densely populated than the West Coast, and some cities and counties have way more people than others. In fact, the 144 largest counties in the country account for just over half of the population, while the other half is divided amongst nearly 3,000 more sparsely populated counties. That leads to another problem: the cities that people most want to move to have trouble finding enough space for everyone.
Storage space and money
What constitutes a nice, spacious apartment or house depends a lot on where you live. Take Texas, which has plenty of big cities like Austin and Dallas but is also known for its wide open spaces. The price of housing is rising, but according to Zillow, the median listing price for a home in the Lone Star State is under $300,000. The good news is, you can get a home for that price in New York, but you’re going to have to live in Albany or Buffalo. If you want to live in New York City, you’ll be paying an average of well over $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Some parts of the city are cheaper than others, but there’s really nothing that could be considered cheap. If it is, you might be living in a closet, which is technically illegal. And unless you work on Wall Street, forget about having anything resembling storage space. People who can’t afford one whole bedroom opt for studios or micro-studios, which are just as spacious as they sound.
That’s why so many corporations have headquarters in New York City but look for warehouse and storage solutions in places like Plainfield, New Jersey. You may be buying merchandise from a business that brags about having its main offices in Manhattan, but there’s not much of a chance the distribution center is also in Manhattan. Places like New Jersey and Connecticut are still among the top five most densely populated states in the country, but they’ve generally got a bit more breathing room than the sardine tin that is New York City.
Getting by with less
People who move to New York from less populated locales have to adjust quickly. You don’t need three bookshelves full of books; one is plenty. Do you really need a queen size bed, or can you get by with a full size? If you like playing sports, that’s great, but it’s going to be hard to find a place to keep those tennis rackets and senior softball bats. And don’t forget the roommates: New York is one of the few places in the country where you regularly see people over the age of 30 living with people they aren’t related to or dating. It’s not the best place for claustrophobic people.
For many, the trade-offs are worth it to live in such a vibrant city where there’s always something going on. And while New York City is the most notable example, places like San Francisco are also running out of room (the fact that the city is on a peninsula doesn’t help). If we reach a point where we run out of creative ways to use our space, then who knows? Maybe there’ll be a mass exodus to Montana.