Top 4 Best Places to Move to for Climate Change in the US

Why you should move to these cities in anticipation of climate change.

The news keeps telling us doomsday is upon us, but outside of making our personal lives less carbon dependent, can we move somewhere that’s better suited for the environmental changes that scientists are expecting?

There are places in the US that may be more climate-resilient.

We looked at the data, because we’re data people. Here’s what we found.

For the impatient, here are the top four cities surprisingly best suited for climate change resilience (Read on to find out why):

  • Pocotello, Utah
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Redding, California
  • Billings, Montana

There are a number of places in the country that are naturally more suited to withstand the effects of climate change. To begin our study, we looked to the nerds at Berkeley Labs for a list of climate change effects and likely impacts to human health. Then we came up with a series of ‘translations’ that amounted to action items for those looking to relocate due to climate change. 

Here’s a summary table below. You’re welcome.

Table 1. Primary climate change effects and what you should do about it

Climate change effectShort DescriptionAction item
Thermal Stress and Deaths During Heat WavesLonger, more severe, and more frequent heat waves. Those who live in substandard housing and cannot afford air conditioning are more likely to be affected.move away from already-hot places
Dampness and Mold from Severe Storms and Sea Level RiseIncreased flooding and humidity from hurricanes, exacerbating asthma move away from oceans
Other Effects on IEQ of Severe Storms and FloodingPower outages leading to loss of heating and cooling, and dislocation from homes can lead to use of backup generators which can lead to more carbon monoxide poisonings. move away from already-hot placesmove out of flood zones
WildfiresIncreased temperatures and droughts are expected to lead to more wildfires, leading to pollutant exposuresmove away from forests in hot dry settings
Humidity and Dust Mite AllergiesAs humidity goes up, so does the ability of house dust mites to survive. Mites can contribute to allergic and asthmatic symptoms move away from already high-humidity areas if you have a mite allergy
Increases in OzoneOzone everywhere will increase, and blow that ozone indoors. get an activated carbon air filter for your home.
ParticlesThere’s no consensus here because there will be more particle pollution, but less in the air because of increased precipitation.move away from large cities that are the source of air pollution.
Pollen AllergensPollen season may start earlier in the year. Higher CO2 and temperatures mean increased plant biomass potentially yielding more pollen production.move away from places with lots of vegetation if you have bad seasonal allergies.

Table 1 Climate change effects with descriptions from the Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank, a Berkeley Lab, explains climate change effects on indoor air quality and human health. Action items are inferred by the authors of this article.

So we’ll just follow these action items. Simple, right? 

Now all we have to do is find a place that’s:

  1. Not too hot, not too close to oceans, not in a flood zone, not too humid, not too densely populated, and not too vegetated
  2. But also has good water and soil for growing good food
  3. And also has lots of sun and wind for alternative power generation.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? Nope, it’s not. We’ve got you covered. 

Here are the answers to all of your questions above:

  1. Move inland. You’re more likely to find cooler mountains, fewer people, less allergy-irritating vegetation, less humidity, and less flooding. That one was easy!
  2. To answer where there's good water and soil we’ll look at land yields for fruit, grains, and vegetables. And also, state and local management of ecosystem markets (more on this later).

First let’s have a look at the fruit yields map, which is pretty sparse given the number of people that eat fruit in this country. Eastern Washington state, eastern California, western Michigan, and Florida appear to be the strongholds for this niche. However, don’t miss the patches just west and south east of Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ll come back to them.

Figure 1. Fruit Yields Map of the US

fruit yields in tons/year indicate by proxy best places for good soil and water conditions, resilient to climate change

Fruit Yields, EnviroAtlas National Data Fact Sheet, January 2014 (epa.gov)

Next we have grain crop yields in tons per year. There are a ton more places that grow grains versus fruit, but check out those two patches we mentioned to the east and west of Salt Lake City. They’re still holding strong, even in the vegetable yield map below.

Figure 2. Grain Yields Map of the US

Grain crop yields in tons/year indicate by proxy best places for good soil and water conditions, resilient to climate change

Grain Yields, EnviroAtlas National Data Fact Sheet, January 2015 (epa.gov)

Here’s the vegetable yields map you’ve been waiting for. Notice the bottom of that area west of SLC dropped out, but we still have good vegetables growing in the northern section.

Figure 3. Vegetable Yields Map of the US

Vegetable yields in tons/year indicate by proxy best places for good soil and water conditions, resilient to climate change

Vegetable Yields, EnviroAtlas National Data Fact Sheet, January 2014 (epa.gov)

And now onto ecosystem markets. The shaded areas in the map below are friendly towards enabling policies and regulatory drivers that facilitate ecosystem services. 

The dots show forest carbon projects and wetlands and streams projects, which are used as proxies for showing how much a community cares about its environment.

Figure 4. Ecosystem Markets and Environmental Projects Map of the US

ecosystem market maps with water projects indicate by proxy best places for good soil and water conditions, resilient to climate change

Layer: Wetlands and Streams - Projects [centroids] (ID: 0) (epa.gov)

Layer: Forest and Land Use Carbon - Projects [centroids] (ID: 0) (epa.gov)

So we have Montana, Colorado, Utah, California, the Virginias, Pennsylvania, and Florida coming out and consistent winners in this category for good water and soil conditions.

Moving on to alternative energies…

  1. Here are the best places for solar and wind energy. On both maps the places marked in darker shaded areas have more solar potential and more wind power potential than the lighter areas.

Figure 5. Average Potential Wind Energy Map of the US

Average wind energy map of US indicates best places for good alternative energy, resilient to climate change

Figure 5 Wind energy in the United States. Data from EPA.

The solar data is less spotty than the wind data. Basically, you don’t get a lot of sun if you live in the northwest or the northeast of the country. That’s no surprise, but let’s look at the map below to be sure.

Figure 6. Average Potential Solar Energy Map of the US

Average daily solar energy map of US indicates best places for good alternative energy, resilient to climate change

Figure 6 Solar potential energy. Data from EPA.

If you’re looking at states that have high potential for both solar and wind power, Kansas, Wyoming, and Montana look pretty good. As you can see from the map, they aren’t the only states with overlap of both alternative energy sources, they are just ones covering the largest swaths. So don’t give up hope if these states don’t suit you.

To circle back, here are the cities best for climate change resilience:

  • Pocotello, Utah
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Redding, California
  • Billings, Montana

A lot of other cities came in with almost all factors met, but many of them were eliminated from our list because they were either in or near flood zones.

You now have all the answers. If you’re happy with the answers, let us know in the comments.

Do you want to see us focus on your particular interest area? Let us know in the comment section and we’ll get back to you (really, we will).

Disclaimer: We’ve done a lot of hand waving in this article. Please do some more research before you move so that you don’t blame us if it doesn’t work out. Better yet, go to www.nhscore.com to see more mapped stats and get connected to a realtor with localized information.

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