5 Worst (and Best) Places to Live During the Coming Chaos

By Lee Bellinger / November 12, 2013
Raleigh, NC - perhaps a city with high fortitude
As we’ve been warning paid subscribers of our Independent Living newsletter for quite some time, we’re worried… especially about living conditions in our big cities and the highly populated suburbs that surround them.
Things are starting to get pretty rough in and around some of America’s population centers, and – as even the Wall Street and D.C crowds are finally admitting – conditions for millions of struggling people are going to get even worse before they get better.
We’ll give you a rundown of the worst cities and surrounding areas to be living as the U.S. financial system continues to implode, as well as potential haven cities that will weather the storm better than most. But first, let’s take a closer look at what’s happening and why we should all be concerned…
Numerous American Cities
Face a Long-Term Decline
It’s easy to blame the decline of once-great cities on the recent economic turmoil in our nation. But, that’s not the complete story. Many of our big cities that are falling apart today have been rotting away for years.
Los Angeles makes a perfect case study. For a century, LA experienced explosive growth. The population, business, the economy… it all went through the roof.
Once heralded as a “place of inspiration for nobler living,” today’s City of Angels is becoming a city of horrors. The moribund economy is only part of the problem.
As with the country, LA is suffering from an environment that’s unfriendly to business. High taxes and high regulation drive businesses out. Once upon a time, LA had a vibrant mix of business leaders who took an active interest in the health of the city. Not only did their businesses produce jobs, they also donated to a variety of causes including education, recreation, and neighborhood improvement.
The business leadership in LA today is basically non-existent. Government officials have filled the power vacuum, and they don’t have much concern beyond greasing the wheels that got them there, making sure they get re-elected or reappointed, and seeing to it that they’re paid handsomely for causing so much trouble.
Union bosses provide the bulk of campaign support for elected officials in LA, which means that Big Labor has an undue amount of influence over city politics. This is true in cities that are on the decline all over the nation. Just take a look at the list below. The cities that are worst off have a workforce that is largely under union monopoly control.
The Decay of Los Angeles and Other Cities:
Part of an Ominous National Trend
Devastating visual of certain city life decaying
The result in LA and elsewhere has been stagnated economic growth, infrastructure in disrepair, population decline, major loss of jobs, and a growing number of people dependent on government handouts for basic necessities – from jobs to housing to food to child care.
Here’s the point: The system simply cannot go on forever like this. Eventually, the money will run out and then all those people waiting for their next handout will find out there’s nothing coming. And in city after city, the money is now running out.
At least 18 cities in Pennsylvania, as one example, are at the mercy of state bailout programs just to meet their payrolls, keep schools and fire stations open, and fill potholes.
Here are the top five cities nationwide that you’d be better off NOT living in when the economy collapses or a major natural disaster hits, prompting looting, food shortages, and widespread social chaos.
  • Los Angeles: In the last decade, the rate of employment in Los Angeles has dropped by 7.1 percent. Unemployment in August 2013 was above 11 percent. Productive citizens are leaving LA in droves. It’s lost 11.7 percent of population in the last decade. It’s also a highly regulated city, making it an unattractive place for business. This means there isn’t a lot of hope for new jobs on the horizon… unless you want to work for the government. For now, that sector is still growing.
  • Detroit: The situation in Detroit is like a preview of what’s to come if we as a nation stay on our current economic path. At the middle of the last century, the average median family income in Detroit was the second highest in the nation. How sad is it that this once-great city has declined to the state it’s in today. In the last decade, Detroit has had an employment decline of 19.6 percent, and it’s lost 9.0 percent of its population. Crime is a problem, and infrastructure is crumbling. But, the city government continues to cling to regulation, taxation, and wealth redistribution as the misguided answer to these problems.
  • Chicago: Chicago’s unemployment rate is below the national average, but the trends for the city don’t look good. Its employment rate has dropped 6.9 percent, and it’s lost 6.5 percent of its population over the last decade. It’s also one of the highest crime cities in the country.
  • San Francisco: San Francisco may be a beautiful city, but economically it’s crumbling. It’s experienced a 12.8 percent drop in its employment rate, bringing its unemployment levels to 10 percent. And, people are leaving that city as well. In the last decade, San Francisco has seen 9.2 percent more people fleeing the city than coming to live there.
  • Miami: Miami is another problem city. Unemployment sits at 10.9 percent, well above the national average, and more people are leaving than are moving in. Its negative migration rate is 5.8 percent. Plus, crime is a problem in certain areas as well.
This is in no way meant to be a complete listing. Other major cities including St. Louis, Cleveland, and Newark are in deep trouble. The list of major urban trouble spots goes on.
If you live in or near such a city, it’s time to consider a move. If you own a home, trading away years of your life in exchange for a hoped-for recovery in real estate values is probably not a good bargain either. These cities aren’t stable. They don’t have sustainable policies. And, when things start to break down, one way or another, it will be the average citizens who pay.
Five Big-City Havens to Begin Considering
Downtown Des Moines Iowa
If you are looking to greener pastures inside the United States, I recommend you consider a small, mostly rural community. Chances are you’ll find many advantages. Crime is typically low. You’re closer to food producers, so there’s less worry about food supply disruptions. People tend to be more neighborly – they’re more ready and willing to help out someone in need. You can also get more house and private education for the money.
But, I also realize that moving to a small town might not be in the cards for you. You may be tied to a job or industry that requires big city living. If that’s the case, then I suggest you consider one of the following cities:
  • Des Moines, Iowa: In this business-friendly city, regulations are kept to a minimum. The result is a lot of businesses are moving to the area. Job growth is steady, income growth is steady, and cost of living is lower than average.
  • Provo, Utah: This is another city that’s got high projected job growth, high projected income growth, and low unemployment. It also has a low cost of living and a local government that’s less invasive than most.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: The unemployment in Raleigh is a bit high, but the growth rate is good when compared with much of the nation.
  • Fort Collins, Colorado: With a population under 300,000 and an annual productivity level of $11 billion, Fort Collins has a stable economy. It also boasts a reasonable cost of living and decent projections when it comes to job and income growth.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska: Lincoln is on par with Fort Collins when it comes to productivity and stability. It also has a healthier economic outlook than the national average.
When it comes right down to the quality of your life, cities that are friendly to business and that value a small government footprint tend to be the nicest places to live. In past decades, these factors have been important, but now they are critical. In an economic meltdown accompanied by social chaos, one of the biggest factors determining how well you come through is simply where you live.
I realize that relocation is a major step. If not that, then consider a rural country or mountain home you can access for weeks or months at a time if necessary – and stock it with survivables to last at least 90 days.