As more people leave King County, KOMO News delved into numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the most popular places where King County residents are moving.

You could call it a slow exodus away from the Emerald City area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Seattle has the second-highest percentage of people considering or planning to move away. Over the next 12 months, census workers report that 171,000 households will leave King County.

KOMO News poured through census records to find out where so many people are headed.

Out of 127,000 people who’ve moved away from King County in a four-year period, census records found that 37% of movers stayed somewhat local, going to either Snohomish, Pierce, or Kitsap counties. For more people who ditched Washington altogether, records show that they moved to mostly for warmer places.

Number one on the list is Maricopa County, Ariz., followed by Los Angeles County, Calif., and Santa Clara County, Calif.

“The warm weather, I assume, is what most people are going for. Just to see the sun more than 100 days a year,” said Todd Jeffress, a Seattle-based flight attendant moving to Texas this summer.

Jeffress added that he will start attending pilot school and could not afford to live in King County any longer.

“Luckily, I have a lovely lady that’ll support me and be my ‘sugar mama’ for nine months,” he joked.

Also in Texas is Rocky Martinez, who left King County last summer after losing his firefighting job because of Washington’s vaccine mandate.

“People don’t feel safe anymore,” he told KOMO News, citing police’s inability to chase after drivers during certain crimes.

Peter Seifert can relate. He moved to Minnesota from Seattle in 2021 as he prepared to start a family.

“Do I feel safe enough walking to the park with my one-year-old kid just to play a little bit?” he asked hypothetically. “Who knows what could happen?”

As crime spikes and affordability takes a hit, census numbers indicate even more people may leave King County. Even before the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau found that King County lost more people than it gained.

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