About half of Connecticut's residents would move to a different state if given the chance, according to a Gallup poll conducted in all 50 states last year.
Residents 18 and older were asked, "Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?" Forty-nine percent of Connecticut residents polled responded that they would leave if they could, compared to a 33 percent average across all 50 states. Illinois residents, at 50 percent, are slightly more interested than Nutmeggers in leaving their own state. Maryland, Nevada, and Rhode Island round out the disenchanted top five.
Why do people want to leave where they live? The most common reason is work or business, followed by family or other social reasons. A much smaller number of Americans have said they will likely move because they're looking for a better quality of life.
"My quick take on it," said Fred Carstensen, an economist at UConn, "is that Connecticut is a state that is struggling -- a real laggard on job growth; lots of problems with the K-12 system in our larger cities; lousy transportation infrastructure; little sense that it is a state moving forward. We seem obsessed with unfunded liabilities... and other things that have nothing to do with bringing vitality back to the state."
While Connecticut residents might talk about wanting to leave, they're much less likely to have plans to relocate. In the Gallup poll, only 16 percent of state residents said they were planning to leave within a year.
On WNPR's Where We Live in 2012, former Connecticut resident Bettina Hansen, who had just moved to Seattle, said her decision to leave the state was based on a job and a chance to be near family. "I also thought the job was going to be a lot more stable," she said, "and the neighborhoods around me would be a lot easier to engage with than Hartford was." She said Hartford was difficult because she felt a lot of friends her age were moving away. "I felt like I had an impact in the community," she said, "but I never felt like there were roots there. It felt like a lot of people were leaving, so there wasn't anything keeping me there."
Economist Joe Cortright said the opportunity to have an impact on your community is a big reason young people might stick around. He said that while Michigan was "hemorrhaging talented young people," an increased number of young college graduates were actually moving to the center of Detroit. "It's a small base," he said, "but it tells you that even in a place as troubled as that, it's the urban core that's doing the best."
Carstensen said he imagines residents in coastal Connecticut are probably satisfied with their location, with close access to New York City, lots of local cultural attractions, and a strong sense of place. "If you are in central Connecticut," he said, "[like] Hartford, Waterbury -- the I-84 corridor -- I suspect you would be thinking about moving." He added that a survey that provided a map by ZIP code for the state would reveal interesting information. "A really good survey," he said, "would have been alert to the spatial distribution of responses. If the polling included socio-economic data and locational data, it would tell us a lot more."