Fleeing To Florida For Freedom: Some Who Moved During Pandemic Were Seeking More Than Warmer Weather


A realtor who works in Florida says he has represented a number of buyers in the past two years that moved to the Sunshine State for more than its warm weather.

They were escaping COVID pandemic restrictions, John Alestra, who works at Agile Group Realty in Tampa, said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note.

“A lot of the feedback I got from folks, a lot of it was just they didn’t want to deal with their states. They saw how they handled the pandemic. They wanted to make that move to a state where they felt they could live their lives a little more freely,” Alestra said.

Alestra said they missed the basic life they were living prior to the pandemic.

“A lot of that sort of stuff. Being able to go out to eat. And then with the vaccine situation where they kind of felt like they were being forced to do something they didn’t want to do in a lot of cases. I’m still getting clients like that now,” Alestra said.

Alestra said buyers saw that Florida had looser restrictions than other states. He said 8 out of 10 clients would mention something about the pandemic when they were looking for homes, especially if they were from states such as California and New York.

Alestra was not alone in noticing this trend, and it has been documented that people chose Florida for freedom during the pandemic.

A press release from UHaul says that the COVID pandemic coincided with more do-it-yourself movers leaving densely populated U.S. areas, specifically New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to their special report analyzing migration trends from 2020.

The report shows that Florida was one of the top 10 states do-it-yourself movers from New York City relocated to.

In February of this year, the Tampa Bay Times published an article by Christopher Spata where a lifelong resident of New York City said pandemic restrictions were the reason her family moved.

“I didn’t want my son going to school on Zoom… and there was a high level of fear that made it hard to get together with people,” Julianne Recine, 49, said.

So how many people are we talking about?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Florida grew by 242,941 people between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, but the census data doesn’t necessarily reflect the number of people who moved into the state because it accounts for more factors, such as births and deaths.

Logan Padgett at The James Madison Institute wrote the number of people who moved into Florida from out of state between April 2020 to April 2021 was almost 330,000 people, equal to roughly 903 people moving to the state each day.

Padgett cited information from Movement Mortgage for his article.

“The mass influx to the Sunshine State has been happening long before the pandemic. Between July 2019 and July 2020, more than 252,000 people moved to Florida, marking the fifth consecutive year that the state held the top spot for net migration,” Padgett wrote.

“This trend was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, both because of the work-from-home craze that’s allowed employees to live in a different state than their employer and general favorability for the state’s aversion to lockdown restrictions.”

Even as the market cools nationally, home price appreciation in Florida continues to rise.

According to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index, Florida posted the highest home price gains in the country for the eighth straight month in September with 23% growth.

Miami posted the highest year-over-year home price increase of the country’s 20 largest metro areas at 25.6%, while Tampa remained in the number two slot at 23.2%.

Hurricane Ian won’t stop growth in Florida.

Damaged homes that owners can’t afford to fix may be picked up by investors who plan to spruce them up and either rent or sell them for a profit, according to an article by the Wall Street Journal.

Florida Real Estate Broker and Investor Steve Daria talked about this article in one of his YouTube videos. He also offers tips for people who may move into one of these homes.

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