Two years into the pandemic, people continue to hunt for greener pastures in more affordable towns better suited to a pandemic-era lifestyle than big coastal cities.
The pandemic scrambled the calculus for most home hunters as to what they should prioritize when buying or renting a home. The pervasiveness of working from home made living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment untenable for many big city-dwellers, especially families. The opportunity to work from anywhere led many to reevaluate what they wanted from a home.
Larger homes, gardens, and a more affordable cost of living suddenly became much more important, and data reflecting last year’s moving patterns is beginning to reflect these new considerations.
Where people are moving to
Cities in Sun Belt states have become the new hotspot for Americans looking to move, according to a new survey by moving truck rental company Penske, which crunched the numbers on which direction one-way truck rentals have been headed over the past year.
The top 10 cities Americans are choosing to relocate to are:
- Las Vegas
- San Antonio
Most of the top cities where movers want to relocate enjoy pleasant temperatures and allow residents easy access to outdoor recreational opportunities. The more popular states, Texas and Florida, also happen to have no income tax, an appealing incentive to move for people living in states with high tax brackets like New York or California.
“The most popular cities are in the Sun Belt, and are places with lower costs and warmer climates,” Randy Ryerson, vice president of marketing and communications for Penske, told Fortune.
Texas cities dominated the list, after a year of record population and job growth in the state. Houston was one of America’s fastest growing cities in 2021, while Austin is emerging as one of the country’s premier tech hubs amidst a historic job boom.
Changing housing markets
In 2021, relocations in the U.S. ticked up considerably as millions of Americans sought out new places to live.
The number of Americans who moved last year jumped 20% above 2020 levels, according to a February survey by relocating company North American Van Lines, as up to 23 million people in the country chose to relocate to places that accommodated new pandemic-era lifestyles.
The surge in movers has primarily been motivated work-from-home options, which have opened up many new opportunities for people considering a move.
“As remote work became the new normal for companies over the past year, it opened the door for more people to move farther away from the workplace and explore living in a new area. Our data has shown that for some, spending more time at home during the pandemic inspired the want for a change of scenery,” Ryerson said.
But the influx of new residents in this city has had its consequences. With wealthier homebuyers and renters flooding smaller towns with New York and California salaries, housing prices in these cities have been growing at some of the fastest rates in the country.
Home prices across the country have been soaring during the pandemic, rising by a national average of 19.8% over the past year. But some of the cities on this list have seen prices go way higher.
Homes in Houston, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Las Vegas have all seen prices surge above 20% this year. Prices in Phoenix are up more than 30%, and nearly 40% higher in Austin.
In many of these cities, a big reason behind the home price surge has been the influx of new residents with deeper pockets who can outbid locals. In Austin, a survey of moving data found that most of the people moving to the city in 2021 came from one of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Jose, newcomers who have already begun outpricing locals in the housing market.
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