‘Lifestyle migration’: Why Americans are moving


Two removal men carrying boxes. View point is from inside the removals van, amongst boxes.

(NewsNation) —  Despite the attention given to COVID-19 influencing Americans to move away from home, the Census Bureau reported that permanent migration levels in the U.S. still continue to decline.

There are, however, “lifestyle migration” patterns happening that didn’t exist pre-pandemic, according to real estate experts.

Julie Faupel, a broker in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, told NewsNation Digital that there’s a massive shift happening in the real estate marketplace.

With the ability to work remotely, “We’re all saying, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to live anywhere that I don’t want to. It’s so nice to have that luxury of choice. Because then it really is all about just defining where you want to be and how you want to live,” Faupel said.

As people realign their priorities, and learn to work in new ways, moving to places such as Wyoming have seen increases in demand, according to Faupel.

Faupel is the founder of REALM, a real estate tech startup, and works closely with top producing real estate professionals, from all over the map. She says they’ve also seen demand in Aspen, Colorado; Park City, Utah; and Hawaii.

Urban environments are still seeing demand, as well, but people are starting to prioritize different things, especially the amenities in their homes.

“It’s an exciting time. I think people are redefining so much of how we live, and I think the pace of change has never been faster,” Faupel said.

In 2021, moving company United Van Lines conducted a survey to further examine the “why” behind Americans deciding to pick up and move.

The survey revealed that 31.8% of Americans moved to be closer to family and 32.5% of Americans moved for a new job, a significant decrease from 2015, when more than 60% of Americans cited a job or transfer.

“This new data from United Van Lines is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the report. “We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote.”

Added Faupel: “What we’re realizing is that the environment, the people, the sense of community that we all have kind of coming out of something that was a shared experience, is really pretty remarkable. And that is helping us to make our environments more comfortable.”

Moving In

The top inbound states of 2021:

  1. Vermont
  2. South Dakota
  3. South Carolina
  4. West Virginia
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. Tennessee
  8. Oregon
  9. Idaho
  10. Rhode Island

Moving Out

The top outbound states for 2021:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. California
  6. Michigan
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Louisiana
  9. Ohio
  10. Nebraska

The August Zumper National Rent Index also presented interesting data about migration and rent prices. The migration patterns indicate that many remote workers relocated to southern cities in favor of warmer weather, more space and lower cost of living, but that the rate of such migration has started to slow.

Migration out of San Francisco is increasing, while migration out of New York is declining, according to Redfin.

New York City prices continue to skyrocket, but people are continuing to relocate to the city. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, however, tell a different story. All three California cities seem to be shrinking when it comes population size. Meanwhile, Fresno has seen a gradual but steady population increase.

Residents flocking to California’s fifth-largest city from more expensive cities along the Pacific Coast was a trend that intensified during the pandemic, according to Zumper.

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