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Survey on the desire to leave Ile-de-France

Finished research
Begin: December 2017
End: March 2018

What if the population of Ile-de- France - the wealthiest, densest and most populated region of France - started to decline in the coming years? This possibility is shown to be more likely than ever in the latest study from the Forum on aspirations and the residential mobility projects of lle-de-France residents. Over the last decade, high birth rates in Ile-de- France have been increasingly unable to compensate for migration out of the region. Nearly one resident out of two states they would like to leave Ile-de- France to live in another region. What explains this phenomenon?

Research participants


Contact : Marc Pearce

The ambition of the project:

This survey is part of a research program on people’s aspirations regarding the future of mobility. The first phase of the project, Post-Car Ile-de-France, aims to imagine the conditions required to achieve a car-free Ile-de-France by 2050. During the study, which was conducted with a group of students from Paris 1 (2017), we interviewed approximately 30 Ile-de-France residents. Although we asked them to imagine the Ile-de-France of the future, the majority declared they wanted to leave the region…

A study we conducted in 2016, Aspirations for Mobility and Lifestyle, confirmed this trend: 42% of Ile-de-France residents stated that their ideal place of residence was in another region, or even another country – versus 28 % across the rest of France. This difference seemed to underline the poor quality of life in Ile-de-France. This study, conducted on a national scale, did not provide a geographic and sociodemographic sample that was robust enough to draw firm conclusions for the residents of Ile-de-France.

In 2017 we launched a study on the aspirations of Ile-de-France residents regarding residential mobility, focused on the following questions:

  • What is the portion of Ile-de-France residents who truly want to leave the region?
  • How many actually plan to relocate in the near future?
  • Which factors most greatly influence their desire to leave?
  • Who is the most eager to leave the region of Ile-de-France?
  • Where exactly do they want to relocate?

Key results:

  • The results of the study confirm the strong desire of nearly one out of two people in Ile-de-France to leave the region. More than one-quarter are planning to leave in the next 5 years.

  • The results suggest that many people do not choose to live in the region that is home to one-fifth of the French population, but are rather forced to live there due to the high concentration of economic activity in the territory.

The main findings

Reducing stress and prioritizing a better quality of life

Nearly one out of two Ile-de-France residents aims to leave the region (45%) and one-quarter plans to do so in the next 5 years.

Why leave? A change of surroundings and a better quality of life. The number one motivation of those interviewed: an overly stressful lifestyle (89%) . Trailing close behind: pollution, the cost of housing, traffic, population density and the lack of space, as well as the attitude of Ile-de-France residents. The desire to leave seems to result from multiple factors which, when combined, create the impression that the Ile-de-France offers a low quality of life .

While historically migration and the places people choose to live have been determined by employment and the location of companies, environment seems to exert an increasing influence . It is important to note that certain factors pushing people to leave the region are related to mobility and its effects (pollution, traffic, cost of housing…), even if “time spent in transportation” is not a determining factor when it is less than 1 hour 30 minutes per day..

A trend that is true for all Ile-de-France residents, and that increases with age

The desire to leave Ile-de-France is shared: it is not influenced by gender, level of education or income. Age is the only discriminating sociodemographic factor regarding the desire to leave the Ile-de-France. Young people are less likely than their elders to want to leave the Ile-de-France (50% for people between 18-24 years old, versus 82% for people who are 55 and older). Their desire to leave grows linearly with age. Retirement or the desire to return to their hometown cannot fully explain this trend. A form of « fatigue with life in Ile-de-France » seems to grow progressively over time.

The desire for exile is less poignant in Paris than elsewhere in Ile-de-France: while one out of two people living in Parisian suburbs would like to leave the region, this is the case for only one out of three residents in Paris. Paradoxically, Paris is the only department in the region with a declining population.

Leave, but for where? Happiness is far from big cities

Among those who would like to leave Ile-de-France, more than one out of two would like to move to a mid-sized city , or small cities or villages located along the border of a big city. One quarter of Ile-de-France residents would even like to live far from urban centers , in small towns, villages or even isolated in the country.

Overall, for 80% of the respondents the aspiration to leave Ile-de-France is reflected by a desire to radically change surroundings . The Atlantic coastline is a choice destination (one out of two people) followed by Occitania (19%), New-Aquitaine (17%) and the PACA region (13%). International destinations also rank highly, with 12% for Europe.

Employment places Ile-de-France residents under house arrest

What is the main barrier that prevents people from leaving? Employment of course! 77% of Ile-de-France residents say work prevents them from leaving the region, among which 54% say it is a factor that contributes “greatly.” Indeed, one-quarter of national employment is situated within Ile de France, including a disproportionally strong number of executive and intellectual positions, with more than 1.5 million people employed or one-quarter of all executives in France (INSEE 2017).

Another barrier for 29 % of those surveyed is the presence of loved ones in the Greater Paris region (family, friends, partners, children…). A lack of financial resources is only cited by 19% of those interviewed.

The Forum’s point of view: should the Ile-de-France continue to expand?

The Ile-de-France region is becoming less and less attractive. For several years now, its net migration has been negative, notably in the central region. Paris is even losing residents. This phenomenon could intensify in the coming years with an increase in possibilities like remote working and the multiplication of high-speed connections… Why not consider this strong desire to leave instead of seeking ways to expand a megalopolis at all costs? Especially one that does not offer an environment or lifestyle that corresponds to the desires of its residents.

The research design

The Mobile Lives Forum commissioned ObSoCo (L’Observatoire Société et Consommation) to conduct this study as a part of the project Post-Car Île-de-France, which aims to imagine the conditions necessary to achieve a car-free Ile-de-France by 2050. A sample of 2,227 people living in the Ile-de-France region, ranging from 18 to 69 years old, were interviewed. The study was conducted online on YouGov between December 21, 2017 and January 22, 2018. In order to guarantee a representative sample, quotas were established for each department based on the following socidemographic criteria: gender, age, socioprofessional category, level of education.

Learn more:

Full report (in French)

Press release (in French)


For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.

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Residential mobility

Broadly speaking, residential mobility refers to a household’s change of residence within a life basin.

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A lifestyle is a composition of daily activities and experiences that give sense and meaning to the life of a person or a group in time and space.

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To cite this publication :

Mobile Lives Forum et L'Obsoco (Research and consulting compagny) (18 April 2018), « Survey on the desire to leave Ile-de-France », Préparer la transition mobilitaire. Consulté le 21 June 2024, URL:

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