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When turning on faucets is a source of stress: Climate change is starting to shape where Americans relocate

When turning on faucets is a source of stress: Climate change is starting to shape where Americans relocate

Megan Warren, who grew up in Southern California, had lived in Los Angeles for 15 years when she decided she’d had enough.

During periods of drought, when the city was trying to conserve water and adding plastic balls to the reservoir to reduce evaporation, neighbors near her home in the Miracle Mile didn’t seem to care, she says.

She’d drive down her street and see one of them hosing off his driveway and others using sprinklers on their lawns. Meanwhile, she had removed the “brown, dry and crispy grass” and water-dependent landscaping from her lawn and replaced it with succulents and ground cover that could survive in dry conditions.

“Every time I turned on the faucet to wash my dishes, it was really a source of stress for me,” she says. “I just wanted to go to a place where I could take a shower without worrying about water.”

As she started exploring her options, the Pacific Northwest seemed like a “dreamland."

“There's plentiful water and everything is green and lush and growing," she says. "And they have four seasons and it's beautiful."

In 2016, her family picked Portland, Oregon, as their new home because the city had made ecological advances such as composting 67% of its waste, offered great public transportation options and had residents who seemed environmentally conscious.

Warren is among a growing number of Americans who may be starting to factor climate change into their decisions about where they live.

While no clear data exists about how many Americans have moved due to climate-related trends such as wildfires, heat waves, drought and hurricanes, there are signs that people may be starting to weigh these risks when purchasing a home.

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