Personal Finance

Worried about a recession? Consider a move to these 7 slump-proof US cities

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Worried that the relatively rosy economic times may soon be over? You're not alone.

A recent survey from Duke University found that half of U.S. CEOs surveyed expect a recession to kick in by the end of this year, and even more — 82 percent — are sure a slump will hit by the end of 2020. If they're right, we could all be in for some belt-tightening in the not-so-far-off future.

However, there are certain spots around the country where residents feel the bite of economic downturns like the Great Recession less severely. Website compiled a list of seven cities, largely in the Midwest and South, where you might consider relocating to avoid the worst effects of any recession to come. Here's a look at each, along with median home prices from and the local unemployment rate, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for December.

Sources:,, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. Lincoln, Nebraska

Capitol Building in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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Median home price: $244,900
Unemployment rate: 2.3 percent

Livability reporter Emily Handy found that even during the Great Recession, Lincoln boasted an unemployment rate of no higher than 4.7 percent, compared rates as high as 10 percent in other parts of the country. How so? Jobs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and in state government insulated many local workers, according to Handy, who also notes that the city never had a housing boom — so its housing market didn't have far to fall. This prairie city of almost 285,000 also tops Livability's list of up-and-coming tech hot spots, pointing to a bright future.

2. Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
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Median home price: $169,700
Unemployment rate: 3.4 percent

Wichita's unemployment rate of 3.4 percent is the lowest it's been since May 1999, according to Handy. Job growth this year is predicted to be both positive and steady, she added, and Wichita anticipates adding 2,700 new jobs. Kansas on the whole offers affordable real estate, and its residents enjoy the nation's third-lowest income-to-debt ratio. What's more, the cost of living in "Doo-Dah," as the city is nicknamed, is almost 14 percent below the national average, according to Handy.

3. Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota
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Median home price: $244,945
Unemployment rate: 2.3 percent

North Dakota enjoyed an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent during the Great Recession, and now it's dipped to 2.3 percent. The Peace Garden State can rely on oil reserves and its agriculture industry to keep the job supply flowing, says Handy. And the best North Dakota city to live in during a recession? Fargo, home to firms like Microsoft and Case New Holland, generated $15.35 billion for the state economy in 2015, according to Livability, which awarded the city a spot on its 2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live list.

4. Victoria, Texas

Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons

Median home price: $188,250
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent

Home to just 60,000 residents, Victoria is a hub of the Texas energy sector. Lying between Houston and Corpus Christi just 60 miles from the Gulf Coast, Victoria boasts a huge Caterpillar excavator plant and hosts Formosa Plastics Corp., polymer and fiber producer Invista, DuPont and many other employers that are constantly expanding and hiring, according to Handy.

5. Knoxville, Tennessee

People in Market Square on market day in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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Median home price: $234,900
Unemployment rate: 2.8 percent

Knoxville's steady economic growth resulted in a No. 2 showing in's "Happiest Cities to Work in Right Now" list in 2013, and, more recently, a spot on Forbes' list for most Recession-Resistant Cities for Real Estate, according to Handy. In 2018, Livability awarded Knoxville the No. 8 spot on the Top 100 Best Places to Live list. Since there was never a housing explosion, there was never a crash, and currently home prices — now at a median of $234,900, according to Zillow — rise slowly and steadily.

6. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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Median home price: $173,000
Unemployment rate: 3 percent

Tulsa also didn't experience a housing boom prior to the Great Recession, so there was no bust, said Handy. Land in Oklahoma is inexpensive and plentiful, she added, and the state's agriculture and energy industries kept its economy afloat and mitigated the slump's impact. Tulsa even grew during the recession, opening its huge BOK Center arena in 2008 as part of its Vision 2025 project. Livability named Tulsa "an underrated gem" last year.

7. Des Moines, Iowa

A view of the Iowa State Capitol building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.
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Median home price: $139,000
Unemployment rate: 2.4 percent

According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, Iowa's annual budget volatility is lower than average and has more in reserves than most other states. Handy found that during the Great Recession, Des Moines' unemployment rate increased by only 1.2 percent, while housing prices rose by just 0.1 percent. The fastest-growing city in the Midwest, according to Livability, Des Moines boasts a thriving start-up environment that made it one of the top cities for tech hires in 2018 and one of Livability's up-and-coming tech hot spots. Handy reported that Des Moines — nicknamed the "Hartford (Connecticut) of the West" thanks to its large insurance industry, is "awash with job[s] ... in a wide array of industries, including agribusiness and financial services."

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