Sick of your life or you just want to disappear? You can run off to the country or some far away land, or there are plenty of cities in the U.S. where you can hide. If you are looking to start over, but don’t want to be a hermit, you are in luck, there are plenty of places for that as well.
There are a lot of lifestyle items to consider so you will want to make the right choice. You need to prioritize what is most important to you. Do you value culture, nightlife or attractions? These answers should factor into your decision. How “deep” do you need to go into hiding, also very important; don’t hang out on the East coast if concealing your identity is top priority.
The cities on this list are places where you can just be, just fit in or hide depending on your need. Some offer party atmospheres while others are more chill, fit for a runaway looking to escape as well as be surrounded by others who are also running away.
Some cities may seem transient, but are not what you would expect. Boston and Philadelphia are cities rich in culture and diversity, but neither offers the anonymous lifestyle you are looking for. Worse yet is Washington D.C. which advertises itself as a melting pot, but beware because there are more eyes in this metropolis than most, keeping their locals close to their vest and outsiders as outsiders under watch.
This list focuses on the cities where you can step off and start a new life, or at least take some time to yourself and disappear for awhile. Here are the 15 most transient cities in the U.S.
15 Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach has three attributes that makes it an attractive city for transients. First, it’s located on the East Coast where population is high. Secondly, it’s a military base, which by its nature, has large groups of people and families moving in and out on an annual basis. Finally, Virginia Beach is relatively warm and on the water (duh, beach!) so this also attracts tourists and travelers up and down the coast. This town is by no means a metropolis, but it’s also not very far from Washington D.C. and Baltimore for your major city fixes. There are also many buses and trains that can take you to Philadelphia or Atlantic City in a hurry if needed. Bus transportation is anonymous, and important when on the run.
14 Seattle, WA
The whole Seattle thing in the nineties was the peak, but it really started before Starbucks and Microsoft were residents. Seattle has always had a “too cool for school,” or at least “too school for other cities” approach to where they fit in (or don’t). This fueled the grunge era that also brought in lots of coffee and businesses to the city. It’s a coastal seaport city and still one of the fastest growing metropolises, with suburbs expanding for miles. Still, you probably want to stay near downtown if you want to blend in. Seattle continues to be a unique city that holds onto its Pacific Northwest roots despite now being an epicenter of big business in addition to the place Nirvana was formed.
13 Portland, OR
If you consider yourself weird or very unique and are looking for someplace to fit in, then you should check out Portland, Oregon. This eclectic place is home to the truly strange, due to its “little sister” reputation to “big brother” Seattle. The truth is that Portland is now what Seattle used to be. Portland is a place to recreate yourself as an artist, dipping deep into your heart to fill any holes from your past. If this is your destination, you should probably hurry up and move to the city Chuck Palahniuk calls home because there are already television shows (Portlandia) and it’s only a matter of time before this city is more of a tourist destination than a great city to live.
12 Denver, CO
If you want to head west, but aren’t interested in Los Angeles or California in general, then Denver, Colorado is where you may end up. It’s more than just “Los Angeles with pot,” although, that is true. Denver is a fast growing area with plenty of hipsters, college students and tourists flooding every corner, a perfect recipe for anyone looking to get lost in the crowd. Downtown Denver is not just corporate, but where locals live and support “mom and pop” businesses throughout the inner city. Did you know there is gambling in the Rocky Mountains? Yes, there is pot and gambling.
11 Austin, TX
If you are still young, or young at heart, then Austin, Texas needs to be considered. Starting with the cowboys (actual, not football team), Texas has a long past of being a great place to hide out in. Part of it is the size, Texas is the size of multiple states, and part of it is cities and towns much like the ever growing capital city of Austin. With lots of college students and tech companies, Austin has become an interesting mix of Silicon Valley, Seattle (in the nineties) and general Texas hospitality (guns and macho attitude). Several years ago the city started attracting lots of hipsters and musicians due to its South by Southwest music festival that brings the top musicians as well as many indie acts to the area each year. There is a lot going on in Austin which is good if you are looking to blend in, or start over.
10 Memphis, TN
Memphis is a pretty tough city, so it takes a special brand of drifter to end up here. Not everyone is cut out for the bars of Beale Street, and should you drift off farther than that, you really need to be careful. However, for the strong, Memphis offers a lot of old-school blues bars and musicians that provide excellent entertainment and keep to themselves (i.e. keep their mouths shut). That is important because Memphis isn’t as large as some (and this is the South, which means special rules apply) of these other cities, and every Elvis man understands the importance of sometimes keeping your mouth shut.
9 New Orleans, LA
Looking to party every night until you die? If you answered yes (or even hesitated) then New Orleans is where you need to be. Head South to the mouth of the Mississippi river, a place where tourists, locals and even the military meet each night for decadence. Every night Bourbon Street is a random party for the transient. Should you take up residence nearby you can fully embrace the Charles Bukowski drinking lifestyle all day and all night long. No one here is going to tell you to stop, “don’t say stop” is apparently the number one, and only rule in New Orleans.
8 Los Angeles, CA
There are so many places to hide in Los Angeles. You can wander around downtown L.A., walk the streets of West Hollywood or stroll along the beaches or piers that stretch for miles. If being close to a major airport is a priority (depending on your situation) then you are in luck having LAX so close by, ensuring a quick getaway or escape when needed. Other pluses for the city of angels include beautiful people, lots of different food (both expensive and inexpensive) as well as an endless amount of sunshine. Oh, and don’t worry about appearing incognito, that passes for normal around these parts.
7 San Francisco, CA
Here’s a city that has a long tradition of being a destination for runaways, criminals and those looking to just start over. Whether it’s the Northern California location, sometimes dreary weather or urban lifestyle, this is the end of the road for many. A road that leads to an alternate lifestyle full of dreams and options. Don’t be fooled though, this is a very expensive city and just because it’s easy to roam around doesn’t mean all will be welcoming. Too many hipsters trying to live the “hippie” lifestyle realize the “inn is full,” so to speak, and that their beards and micro brews are not all that welcome. San Francisco is a place to end up if you have cash. If you are low on funds you should probably look elsewhere.
6 Madison, WI
Not all transient towns are major cities. Take Madison, Wisconsin for example, a medium-sized college town with surrounding suburbs populated with families and white picket fences. The core of this capital city is downtown State street where college students, locals and transplants roam from bar to bar looking for fun (sometimes trouble). Madison may not be a major city, but the inner city is largely made up of college students, those who work for the college and politicians, three very transient groups that make this Midwest town a potential place to hide for someone unsure about the larger cities. Of course, you will need to be able to handle cold weather, the winters are brutal. In some cities you have “the quick and the dead,” in Wisconsin you have “the quick and the frozen.”
5 Atlanta, GA
Advertised as the New York City of the South, Atlanta has been booming for several years now, turning a once medium-size city into one of the most populated cities in the U.S. More people of course means you can blend in easier. It also means more crime, more traffic and higher prices, so again, depending on your situation you will need to consider these factors. If you like, South Atlanta also has the advantage of being within a few hours from Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis and Greensboro, North Carolina. Just remember there is a lot of traffic so if your version of “hiding out” is hanging out in the center lane then Atlanta is perfect for you.
4 Las Vegas, NV
You could definitely argue that this should be number one, and if you are a criminal it should be. There is no better place for a transient drifter to live than Las Vegas if they are looking for con, shake down and hustle opportunities, after all, “Vegas is where the money is!” Factor in the desperation of gamblers, the warm climate, endless entertainment options and Vegas is a pretty nice place to disappear to. If you are just looking to start over or “disappear” for a little while, Vegas may not be as alluring. Atlantic City sort of gets an honorable mention, but A.C. is much smaller and harder to blend into. Too many regulars that are known and the last thing you want to be spotted as the “new guy.”
3 Nashville, TN
What if I told you there was a city in the South where people flock to try and make it in the music industry? It’s Hollywood for musicians! Welcome to Nashville, Tennessee, the perfect place to run off to if you want to make it as an artist or just want to hang out in a town of transients where you can enjoy country, blues and rock and roll music. Nashville is just large enough to get lost in without the overwhelming issues of gridlock, crime and high cost of living you will find in other cities. If you are able to blend in and not bring attention to yourself you could bounce around this city for years with the only question asked being "what band you play with?"
2 New York City, NY
The definition of a melting pot, New York City has everything. Each day people arrive via planes, trains and buses looking to start or change their lives. The opportunity is endless, but that is what also makes it difficult. You need to beware of the cost of living and where you plan to stay if you are looking to take on the Big Apple. Living in the streets already sounds tough, but given the unpredictable weather, that is not really an option in New York. If you are in serious need to vanish and like the idea of being a sand pebble in a bucket of sand then New York City is the place to be.
1 Key West, FL
Here, everyone is running from something. Few are “from” Key West or even the keys for that matter. You can extend this transient area to include Miami as well if you wish. What makes Key West unique is that no one cares and no one is going to bother you with the details, because everyone has their luggage here. Not only is Key West surrounded by the ocean, often sunny and a great place to remain anonymous, it’s also a wonderful place to forget. There are so many great bars on Duval Street that it’s easy to forget and create new memories one drink at a time.