Here Are the Cities Luring (and Losing) the Most Americans. Whatever happened to American wanderlust? Manifest destiny? Hitting the road?
The fact is, Americans are less likely to pack up their belongings and relocate now than at any point in recorded history: Only about 11% moved to new homes last year, the lowest rate recorded since the government started keeping track 70 years ago.
This includes a drop in the number of folks moving to new homes in the same state, as well as those moving across state lines. Why are more people staying put? Part of it is due to the torrent of millennials, with their mountains of debt and shifting job prospects.
"It is a tough time for people in their 20s. ... It takes young people five to six years longer now to get out of the house compared with previous generations,” says John Cromartie, a geographer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Then there's the general aging of the population, with many baby boomers already ensconced in their forever homes.
Make no mistake: The pool of movers may be shrinking, but the country is still going through a period of profound migration—with some places losing and others gaining. And this smaller group of movers is having an enormous impact, since newcomers remain the lifeblood of big housing markets, keeping builders busy and home prices rising.
The realtor.com® data team analyzed migration trends to find the metropolitan areas* gaining the most new residents, and those seeing the biggest population declines. During the recession, Americans flocked to the biggest cities where finding a job was easier. But in the rebounding years, these meccas, such as New York and Los Angeles, have seen housing costs soar and people relocate to more affordable destinations.
"Right now the numbers are showing [people moving] to the West and South, and away from the Northeast and Midwest," says demographer Ken Gronbach of KGC Direct. "Cities where taxes are low and housing [costs are] reasonable will see a huge influx of people over the next five to 10 years."
Just because a place ranks high for losing residents doesn't mean plenty of people aren't moving there—it's just that more people are moving out of that market than are coming in. We came up with our ranking by analyzing recently released U.S. Census Bureau population data from 2012 to 2016.
We calculated the net migration for every metropolitan area** by measuring the difference between the numbers of residents moving in and those moving out. So let's start with the cities attracting newcomers like floodlights attract luna moths!
Many transplants are coming from the Northeast, including New York and New Jersey, says local real estate agent Rose Kemp. She's also seen quite a few Puerto Ricans moving in after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory.
This influx of newcomers means builders are busy. Orlando has a number of three- and four-bedroom homes going up in new subdivisions in the region. In Lake Nona, a new community, buyers can find three-bedroom homes priced around $400,000 with access to pools and state-of-the-art fitness centers.
The rest of the top 10 metros where the most folks are moving to include Dallas; Las Vegas; Columbia, SC; Tampa, FL; and Charlotte, NC. OK? Now let's take a tour of the places people are leaving in droves.
Plus, the city is packed with 20- and 30-somethings working for nonprofits, newsrooms, and political campaigns, who don't stay forever. While working here they rent bedrooms in colorful row homes in the Dupont Circle neighborhood with a gaggle of roomies—or they rent apartments in large buildings in nearby burbs such as Arlington, VA. But after a few years learning the ropes and paying their dues, many of these young folks take off for other cities.
“On Capitol Hill people are working 50 to 60 hours a week in an intense and exciting environment," says Cromartie, the USDA geographer who studies population trends. "But that life is very much for younger people who then move on and up [and out]."
The decline in population isn't happening all over the region. In fact, the city of DC on its own saw a positive jump in the number of folks moving in. It was the surrounding suburbs that saw declines. However, that's likely to change when Amazon opens its second headquarters in Crystal City, VA, just outside of the capital.
The rest of the top 10 metros where the most folks are moving away include San Diego; Anchorage, AK; Philadelphia; Miami; and Boston.
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