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Out-of-Town Moves Didn’t End with Pandemic

Number of buyers looking within their metro dropped 15.6% in 1Q, but the number looking elsewhere fell only 4.2%. Fla. has 5 of top 10 want-to-move-to metros.

SEATTLE – The pandemic-era trend of buyers relocating greater distances didn’t end with the pandemic. While Redfin says searches on its website were down overall in the first quarter (1Q) of 2023, the number searching for a home outside their current metro was down only 4.2% compared to a drop of 15.6% of buyers seeking something else near their current location.

During the pandemic, both of those numbers shot up – but the out-of-state mover numbers shot up more.

The reasons for long-distance relocations have changed a bit, though. Many out-of-state moves took place during the pandemic because workers were no longer tied to an office and commute. More recently, a drive for affordable housing has become a more important. Relatively affordable places are some of the nation’s most popular destinations.

And of the top 10 move-to cities cited by Redfin for 1Q, five are in Florida.

Looking at the trend another way, house hunters moving to a new area make up a bigger piece of the homebuying pie than ever. A record one-quarter (25.1%) of Redfin.com home searchers looked to relocate to a new metro in the first quarter. That’s up from 22.8% a year earlier and around 18% before the pandemic.

Top 10 move-to U.S. metros, 1Q year-to-year

Popularity is determined by net inflow – how many more users looked to move into an area than leave.

  1. Miami: Net inflow 8,600 – top origin city, New York City
  2. Phoenix: Net inflow 7,600 – top origin city,  Seattle
  3. Las Vegas: Net inflow 6,600 – top origin city, Los Angeles
  4. Tampa: Net inflow 6,000 – top origin city, New York City
  5. Orlando: Net inflow 5,400 – top origin city, New York City
  6. Sacramento: Net inflow 5,400 – top origin city, San Francisco
  7. Cape Coral: Net inflow 4,900 – top origin city, Chicago
  8. North Port-Sarasota: Net inflow 4,900 – top origin city, Chicago
  9. Dallas: Net inflow 4,800 – top origin city, Los Angeles
  10. Houston: Net inflow 4,300 – top origin city, New York City

Things have changed a bit for the top outbound cities, however. While the nation’s largest cities generally saw a population decline during the pandemic, a few are now seeing a better balance between incoming and outgoing residents. Immigration into major U.S. coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles, for example, has rebounded after dropping off drastically in 2020 and 2021.

In many cases, an uptick in international buyers has made up for some of the residents moving to less expensive destinations. The net inflow of immigrants more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 in the Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Boston.

“Several years of declining immigration, compounded by Americans flowing out of big coastal cities during the pandemic, resulted in many major coastal cities losing population,” says Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Last year’s immigration rebound was a boon for those cities, which take in most of the people who move to the U.S. from other countries. For the housing and rental markets, the recovery should add enough demand to at least partly make up for the existing residents who move further inland.”

Top 10 move-out U.S. metros, 1Q year-to-year

  1. San Francisco: Net outflow 31,100 – top destination city, Sacramento
  2. New York: Net outflow 23,400 – top destination city, Miami
  3. Los Angeles: Net outflow 20,300 – top destination city, Las Vegas
  4. Washington, D.C. : Net outflow 18,000 – top destination city, Miami
  5. Boston: Net outflow 5,800 – top destination city, Miami
  6. Seattle: Net outflow 4,700 – top destination city, Phoenix
  7. Chicago: Net outflow 4,500 – top destination city, Cape Coral
  8. Denver: Net outflow 4,200 – top destination city, Chicago
  9. Hartford: Net outflow 3,200 – top destination city, Boston
  10. Minneapolis: Net outflow 2,500 – top destination city, Chicago

Overall, Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa and Orlando were the most popular move-to destinations. Sun Belt locales are typically the most popular because they’re relatively affordable. The typical home in eight of the 10 most popular destinations is less expensive than in its top origin.

People are also moving to the Sun Belt from other countries, and immigration into seven of the 10 most popular migration destinations – Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Cape Coral, North Port-Sarasota, Dallas and Houston – more than doubled from 2021 to 2022. However, they still didn’t achieve the total numbers of immigrants as the nation’s big coastal metros.

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