In 2016, a visit to a haunted house is on the Halloween agenda for about one-fifth of Americans, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Kids and adults alike will be shelling out millions of dollars to snake their way through haunted attractions with names like House of Torment and 13th Gate.

“From locations in creepy old industrial districts to country farms and hayrides under the stars, each location has a unique approach to interactive horror, but all deliver the thrills and excitement that Halloween fans are seeking,” says James Olmsted, a spokesman for HauntedHouses.com.

We get that these attractions are fun and frightening, but they’re just temporary, Hollywood-inspired spots. They’re not real haunted houses. So we went looking for the metro areas in the U.S. where you’re most likely to find real haunted houses that’ll give you a real scare.

haunted house

Some experts say the age of a house can help dictate whether it’s haunted.

Old and Vacant

To come up with our list of the 13 Metro Areas With the Most Real-Life Haunted Houses, we sifted through two sets of data for the 100 largest metro areas: the number of homes built before 1940 and the number of vacant homes. We pulled the data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.

Why did we pick these two sets of data? Because older homes and vacant homes have a perceived, if not actual, chance of being haunted. In our ranking, we assigned 75 percent of our score to the percentage of homes in a metro that were built before 1940 and 25 percent to the percentage of homes in a metro that are vacant.

Tragedy and Trauma

Paranormal investigator Sharon Day says that the older a home is, the more residents it’s probably had and, therefore, the house has more of an “emotional and traumatic history” tied to any number of tragedies. Furthermore, she says, older homes might have been used in the past as hospitals, morgues, TB clinics and retirement homes — all of which are associated with death.

“Whether you believe in ghosts or not, one thing is certain: an old house has so many little quirks and creaks that the thought of ghosts definitely messes with your head,” writer Shannon Lee says on Old House Web.

ghost

Ghosts may inhabit vacant homes “forever,” one expert says.

‘Reclaimed’ by Ghosts

As for the likelihood of a vacant home being haunted, Sarah Petruno, a shaman who serves as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, says “something interesting can happen” when homes, apartments and other structures don’t have human inhabitants. Petruno says vacant homes can be spiritually “reclaimed by the land” and then ghosts can freely take up residence.

“Abandoned and mostly abandoned homes can become inhabited by ghosts forever if they remain mostly vacant indefinitely,” Petruno says.

haunted house

A Gallup poll in 2005 found that 37 percent of Americans believe in haunted houses.
Photo: Flickr/Teresa Alexander-Arab

In those situations, you might come across some uninvited guests, she warns.

“If you own a vacation home or are considering buying or renting a mostly vacant or abandoned home, do consider the spirit inhabitants that are almost assuredly present in the space. It may take considerable work to get them to leave,” Petruno says.

Here, for your Halloween pleasure, are the 13 metro areas that potentially have the most real-life haunted houses, based on their mix of old and vacant homes. For purposes of this ranking, we included houses, apartments, condos and other dwellings.

1. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA

Scranton ghosts

Photo: Scranton Ghost Tours

Number of homes: 259,918
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 96,993
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 37.3%
Number of vacant homes: 38,718
Percentage of vacant homes: 14.9%

2. Albany, NY

Albany ghosts

Photo: Discover Albany

Number of homes: 398,555
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 118,984
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 29.9%
Number of vacant homes: 55,789
Percentage of vacant homes: 14%

3. Syracuse, NY

Syracuse ghosts

Photo: The Daily Orange

Number of homes: 290,445
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 74,858
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 25.8%
Number of vacant homes: 36,444
Percentage of vacant homes: 12.5%

4. Toledo, OH

Toledo haunted

Photo: HauntedHouses.com

Number of homes: 273,783
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 69,616
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 25.4%
Number of vacant homes: 31,142
Percentage of vacant homes: 11.4%

5. Cleveland, OH

Cleveland haunted house

Photo: HauntedHouses.com

Number of homes: 957,518
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 232,103
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 24.2%
Number of vacant homes: 108,043
Percentage of vacant homes: 11.3%

6. New Haven, CT

New Haven ghosts

Photo: Groupon

Number of homes: 362,707
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 96,458
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 26.6%
Number of vacant homes: 39,437
Percentage of vacant homes: 10.9%

7. Providence, RI

Providence haunted

Photo: YouTube/Scott Indermaur

Number of homes: 694,169
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 223,714
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 32.2%
Number of vacant homes: 71,562
Percentage of vacant homes: 10.3%

8. Buffalo, NY

Buffalo haunted

Photo: D’Youville College

Number of homes: 520,994
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 170,443
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 32.7%
Number of vacant homes: 53,002
Percentage of vacant homes: 10.2%

9. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh haunted

Photo: HauntedHouses.com

Number of homes: 1,107,498
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 299,855
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 27.1%
Number of vacant homes: 117,143
Percentage of vacant homes: 10.6%

10. Rochester, NY

Rochester haunted

Photo: RochesterSubway.com

Number of homes: 475,834
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 130,493
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 27.4%
Number of vacant homes: 48,314
Percentage of vacant homes: 10.2%

11. Youngstown, OH

Youngstown haunted

Photo: The Haunted Librarian

Number of homes: 258,250
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 51,907
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 20.1%
Number of vacant homes: 29,558
Percentage of vacant homes: 11.4%

12. New York, NY

New York City haunted

Photo: Big Appled

Number of homes: 7,892,766
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 2,257,792
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 28.6%
Number of vacant homes: 767,701
Percentage of vacant homes: 9.7%

13. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans haunted

Photo: Ghost City Tours

Number of homes: 555,769
Number of homes built in 1939 or before: 76,704
Percentage of homes built in 1939 or before: 13.8%
Number of vacant homes: 74,015
Percentage of vacant homes: 13.3%

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