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I'm a young professional. Here's why many of my young, educated friends are moving out of St. Louis.

"While many assume that young people are leaving because of crime or politics, it's simpler than that."
Credit: SLBJ

Business Journal data reporter Maddy Simpson moved to St. Louis last year. In that time, she's met other young professionals in the region, many of whom are now moving away. Here's her first-person experience with St. Louis' brain drain problem, and why the reasons for the phenomenon may not be what people assume. 

ST. LOUIS — When I moved to St. Louis last May, I joined a young adults group at a local church I'd been attending as a way to get plugged in and meet young people in my new city.

The group, though advertised for people ages 21 to 35, was made up of about 20 people, mostly in their early 20s.

Many in the group were undergraduate and graduate students at Washington University, Saint Louis University and University of Missouri-St. Louis and included law students, optometry students and post-doc neuroscience fellows. Others had graduated in the past year and were working in the region. A few had moved to St. Louis for their spouse’s graduate programs.

Only two — including myself — moved to the region for a job.

But as I got to know people, I kept running into the same pattern: they all had plans to move away.

I went on a walk in Forest Park with one friend from the group who told me she was gearing up to move out of state for her husband’s job. The next weekend, at brunch with another new friend, I found out that she was moving to Delaware in a few months.

A few weeks later at our weekly group meetup, I heard a few other people mention their plans to move this summer.

Looking around the room, I asked the group, “How many of you are planning to move away within the next year?”

Almost everyone in the group raised their hand.

It was a striking real-life example of the census data I’d been analyzing for this week’s story on brain drain in St. Louis — young people move into the city for the top-notch universities, but few stay and make it their home for the long haul.

And while many assume that young people are leaving because of crime or politics, it's simpler than that.

Most young people I've met see St. Louis as just a stepping stone along the way to the next opportunity.

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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