6 Things to Do When Your City Becomes 'Too Popular'

Tired of too many new neighbors? Take these tips for sabotaging your city's efforts to attract new residents

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Do you think your city has become “too popular?' While Livability.com and other sites regularly rank and write about cities, these types of articles aren't always well received by many of the residents in those cities.

Typical comments include:

“Stay away. We like this place just the way it is now.”

“Thanks, but please don't move here. We have enough traffic.”

“Ugh, not another article saying how great we are.”

An influx of new residents just seems to be more than many locals can take, although U.S. Census Bureau data shows less than half of Americans move at all each year, and even fewer move from one state to another (two out of 10).

Residents in the fastest-growing cities may have reason to feel a bit claustrophobic. Many others seem to just love to hate for the sake of hating, i.e. reacting to these positive lists in the same way they do about "the masses" discovering their favorite obscure band or secret hangout. Then there are others who seem to simply hate where they live yet still live there, for whatever reason.

If you fall into that last category, do yourself a favor and move.

If you are in one of the first two groups, here are a few tips for coping with invaders:

1. Think twice before typing that positive Yelp or TripAdvisor review.

You don't want just anyone being hip to that delicious food, excellent service and relaxing ambience at your favorite restaurant. They should only have enough business to barely keep their doors open. That way, you and a select few others can enjoy your hidden gem without being crowded or ever having to plan ahead by making reservations. Don’t write a false negative review, though, unless you don’t mind getting sued.

2. Write nasty comments on positive articles about your town.

That’s why the comments section is there, for you to consider each positive point made and counter with a negative. If you can identify even the smallest detail that isn't entirely accurate, everyone will then know what you do - that "whole article is rubbish." When commenting, be sure to include mention that you are a resident, just so potential newcomers will know the type of neighbors they could only be so lucky to have if they move to your town.

3. Regularly share unpleasant articles about your town on social media.

What should you be looking for? Crime stories, especially extremely violent ones; negative education scores and rankings; failed food inspections; high rankings on “bad” lists … anything and everything you can find that shines a light on the worst parts of your city. Get negative, people! Dig deep and share away.

4. Act stupid, especially about your city.

The less you know, the more genuinely unhelpful you will be when visitors ask you questions about your town. You get bonus points if you can come across as uneducated about all things. Companies looking to relocate or expand are looking for smart people to employ, so it’s your job to act the opposite of smart. Keeping job providers away is a huge part of this battle.

5. Act smart and helpful, but tell lies.

Perhaps even better than an “I don’t know” answer is to act helpful while giving visitors or newcomers incorrect information. Send them to the worst restaurant in town and tell them it’s “everyone’s favorite.” When someone asks for driving directions, direct them to the nearest known traffic snarl. Mastering the art of lying can be tricky, but it’ll come with practice.

6. Just be rude.

Best thing about rudeness? You can initiate it all by yourself. When driving, tailgate, and honk at people who are driving too slow or seem to be lost. If you must stop at a crosswalk for pedestrians, scream at them, regardless of whether they’re crossing legally. When walking, aggressively push past any people who are not walking fast enough.

In carrying out all these efforts, remember that not all newcomers and tourists will make themselves easily identifiable. Some are better at disguise than others. That means you likely will offend some other longtimers, at least at first. Eventually though, they’ll figure out the strategy, and you can all work together to run off the new people.

This will work until so many of you are doing it that it becomes a trend, at which point most of you will turn back to bragging about your city - if for nothing else but to get back on the opposition where you feel comfortable. When that happens, be sure to keep up with all of the regular stories on Livability.com, which has plenty of positive stuff you can share.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Battles, content director for Livability magazines at Journal Communications, works with community leaders nationwide to tell their cities' most interesting stories. Her previous experience inclu...