People weren’t waiting around, it turns out, during the lockdowns of 2020.
Almost 500,000 more households relocated to a different county in 2020 than in 2019 – a total of 7 million Americans – despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Where were they going? What forces drove them to move? A few answers, from a Wall Street Journal report.
Key reasons: An increase in remote work, allowing for more affordable housing options in smaller cities and towns.
Americans, it seems, needed only a pandemic-sized kick in the pants.
It was a confluence of events that led to the exodus from major metro areas. In 2020, the work-from-home policies (no more commuting) meshed with mortgage interest rates hitting all-time lows.
The Journal used Suffolk County, N.Y., and Sonoma County, Calif., as examples:
“Suffolk County, N.Y., on Long Island, saw an inflow of big-city dwellers last year. Households arriving there from large metropolitan areas increased by 70%. Of all the change-of-address forms, 46% indicated they were coming from Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The previous year, a third of all newcomers came from those counties. …
“In Sonoma County, Calif., arrivals from San Francisco County doubled in 2020.”
There were a few major metro areas still growing, the Journal said, including Riverside County, Calif. (outside L.A.); Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas); Maricopa County, Ariz. (Phoenix); and Wake County, N.C. (Raleigh).
According to a New York Times report, “metro New York and the Bay Area had net outflows in 2020 at twice the rate of 2019. And some of these shifts could last: People able to work remotely at least part of the time might accept a longer commute for more land and a bigger house.”
Net out-migration — more people leaving than arriving — accelerated most in big, expensive metros such as San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Boston.