Staying put: not a national pastime

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Why do people move? And what makes them move only a few years after buying a home? The Atlantic says it’s because the U.S. is so much more vast than most European countries, it boasts a common language, and has a more efficient labor market. Americans can be enticed to move to regions where there is steady job growth, such as the Sun Belt in recent years.

They also report that between the ages of 18 and 45, the average American will move five or six times. After 45? Only two or three more times.

Judging this by homeownership statistics, Realtor Magazine’s Melissa Dittman Tracey reports on how this varies across the country, with homeowners in Arizona, Nevada and Florida staying the shortest amount of time in their homes—five years or less—before moving on, according to a new study from This Old House.

“One potential reason is the states’ favorability for retirees, since they all lack a Social Security tax and offer generally warm year-round climates,” researchers note. But wait. Isn’t that a reason to stay instead of leave? Just a tad confusing.

The metro areas that had the largest percentage of homeowners who lived in their homes for just five years or less were Jacksonville, N.C. (49%), Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala. (44%), and Panama City, Fla. (43.5%).

68% of all homeowners surveyed say they have no plans to move, citing affordability, community connections and family as reasons to stay put. “But more than a quarter of respondents say they’re feeling an itch to move, and an additional 6% say they plan to make a move soon,” says Tracey.

Those who do want to move expect to profit generously from their current homes and that anticipated profit may even be the reason they want to sell. These project a 53% return on their investment when they sell, the survey shows.

In places with the highest homeowner tenure in the nation, 40% or more of residents have stayed in their homes for 24 years or more, the study shows. Those places include Johnstown, PA., Weirton-Steubenville, W. VA., Wilkes-Barre, PA, Wheeling, W.V., and Pittsfield, MA.

But profit is not the only reason motivating people to move. Circumstances listed were finances (43%), high cost of living (34%), lifestyle change (29%), job relocation (29%), and upsizing or downsizing (26%).

Generationally speaking, millennial homeowners are the most likely to think about relocating due to job opportunities (38%). 50 % of Gen Z cites a high cost of living as the top reason for making them want to move in the future, and baby boomers are primarily motivated to move closer to to family upon retirement (36%). “Gen Xers appear more politically driven to move,” says Tracey. “17% say they’re dissatisfied with local governance and 13% dislike their area’s political climate.

Tracey also reports that homeowners who say they already plan to move or are considering moving because they seek a lifestyle change (37%), seek a lower cost of living (27%), wish to upsize or downsize (26%), seek a better climate (24%), or for financial reasons (23%).

RealtorMag, The Atlantic, TBWS


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Brian Voytko

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Mortgage Advisor

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Cell: 215-407-3832


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