Affordability, Warm Weather Motivates Movers As Pandemic Effect Wears Off


Round and round they go… in which states U.S. residents are most prominently landing, well, you’ll soon be in the know.

First, though, more broadly, 2023 saw fewer moves than 2021 and 2022. An estimated 25.6 million Americans changed addresses last year, according to HireAHelper.

USA Today reports that 27.1 million Americans moved in 2021. In 2022, 28.2 million people relocated.

More than 738,000 people moved to Florida and over 668,000 moved to Texas in 2022. North Carolina, Arizona, and Georgia also saw high net immigration. On the flip side, outmigration outpaced immigration in California by 341,866 people, according to USA Today.

Chris Porter, senior vice president and chief demographer at John Burns Research and Consulting, told The Mortgage Note that a lot of the moving trends seen in recent years were not sparked by the Covid pandemic, they were a continuation of longer-standing shifts in migration.

Porter emphasized the role affordability has played for some time, with people leaving states where housing or taxes cost more, seeking out a lower cost of living.

Retirement has also influenced the decisions of movers in recent years.

“For some, it was retirement. Huge numbers of people in the United States are aging into their retirement years, and we saw some people during the pandemic deciding to retire earlier than they planned on,” Porter said.

Growth in rural populations is somewhat of a newer trend, he said.

“The shift to further-out locations as people sought more space was a bit of a change, but that’s also where land’s available for development, so I think we’ll continue to see more of that,” Porter said.

Overall, people are moving less than they were during “The Great American Move” of 2020 and 2021 because of mortgage lock-ins and a lack of inventory.

Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning, and demography at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California said that during the pandemic people “were surging away from large metros and, within metros, from dense cores to suburbs and beyond.”

He said that today, the Covid factor’s “largely done.”

Myers explained that “the dreaded scourge of high house prices multiplied by high interest rates” is influencing people to move now. Millennials and Gen Z are moving to smaller, lower-cost metros.

“This is a loss for big metros, but their housing supply just couldn’t deliver,” he said.

Ken Gronbach, demographer, futurist, and president of KGC Direct, agrees with Myers that the pandemic has ceased to be an issue for most buyers.

“I think it’s a distant memory,” Gronbach told The Mortgage Note.

He said that Baby Boomers who are moving are choosing warmer locations after retirement, bidding colder conditions in the north adieu for places like Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, or one of the Gulf States.

“They want to see what the rest of the United States looks like,” Gronbach said.

When it comes to future growth, Ryan Carrigan, founder of moveBuddha, said their research indicates states like Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina will continue to do well, “because they’ve had strong growth all four years. Most other states have seen fluctuations depending on the year, so it’s hard to fully predict.”

According to a moveBuddha analysis, West Virginia had an unexpected surge of move-in interest in 2023. People moving there were doing so for either the cheap cost of living or retirement

“West Virginia has also made efforts since the pandemic to attract remote workers to the state with Ascend WV program. The program was established by an ex-Silicon Valley CEO and awards remote workers who choose to move with $12,000, access to free outdoor adventuring, and coworking space, and more,” the analysis says.

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