Climate change encourages owners to reconsider legacy towns

Millions of Americans live in communities with precarious climatic conditions, in houses that seem too expensive.

There is, however, a solution for many of these people: moving to one of the so-called climate paradises.

Climate havens or climate destinations are located in places that avoid the worst effects of natural disasters and have the necessary infrastructure to support a larger population. Many of these legacy towns are located in the northeast.

Climate paradises, as defined by Jesse Keenan and Anna Marandi.


Jesse Keenan, associate professor of real estate at Tulane University, singled out the following cities as possible climate havens:

  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Madison, Wis.
  • Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Rochester, NY

Anna Marandi, who served as the climate resilience and sustainability program manager at the National League of Cities, added four more locations to the list of safe havens: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Charleston, South Carolina; Chico, California; and perhaps surprisingly, Orlando, Florida.

Orlando is making the cut, Marandi said, as the city introduced decarbonization measures. Although the natural environment, such as being a non-coastal city, is an advantage, cities can “earn” the designation by striving to provide benefits such as affordable housing and committing to economic sustainability.

“I see climate migration as an opportunity for these cities to avoid the mistakes of urban sprawl,” Marandi said. “They often have a bustling, walkable downtown area that might need a bit of revitalization.”

Keenan also stressed that climate refuge cities need to help their own residents, which in turn will attract more climate migrants.

“We are not the ones who are going to build a community for tomorrow,” he said. “We’re going to build a community for today. And that will be the foundation for building a community for tomorrow.”

Watch the video to learn more about life in climate paradise cities and how this new pattern of migration can help grow local economies.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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