COVID-19 Continues to Drive Relocations

The pandemic continues to drive relocations to lower-density areas and fuel desires to live closer to family

A deeper understanding of the drivers behind Americans’ overall migration patterns is critical to multifamily investment success. The latest annual report from United Van Lines revealed an interesting trend: an overall acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized cities.

According to the 45th Annual National Movers Study, the top five inbound states of 2021 were Vermont, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans’ desire to leave high density areas and relocate to smaller-sized towns is not only due to a perceived decreased risk of infection. Remote work flexibility has fueled a desire to live in warmer climates with a lower cost of living. Although the most popular U.S. migration destinations tend to have high rates of inflation, the market is favorable to new residents because the cost of living is still lower compared to where they came from.

Joining the Baby Boomer generation, a number of Gen Xers are now retiring, many at a younger age than previous generations. United Van Lines’ data revealed that retirees are not necessarily moving to heavily populated cities like Miami. They’re choosing less dense cities like Punta Gorda (81% inbound), Sarasota (79% inbound) and Fort Myers (77% inbound).

The overall number of people who moved to be closer to family — 31.8% — took the number two slot among the reasons all people, regardless of demographic, moved. That’s been on the rise for some time, up from 18.9% in 2015.

According to Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines, “As the pandemic continues to impact our day-to-day, we’re seeing that lifestyle changes — including the increased ability to work from home — and wanting to be closer to family are key factors in why Americans are moving today.”

Illinois (67%), New York (63%), Connecticut (60%) and California (59%) once again ranked among states with the largest exoduses.

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