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Not Just New York: Reports of an Urban Exodus From Houston

A recent article about Houston residents fleeing the city for College Station reads a lot like articles about New Yorkers decamping for less urban climes.
August 11, 2020, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Houston, Austin, and College Station
Tudoran Andrei

R.A. Schuetz reports that real estate interests in Brazos County are reporting an influx of new residents from Houston, located just short of 100 miles to the south.

"Since the pandemic, one out of three calls inquiring about homes in Mission Ranch, a master-planned community on [College Station's]’s southern edge, are from Houston, according to the subdivision’s developer, Caldwell Communities," according to Schuetz.

There are data from before the pandemic to suggest a larger trend was already at work, according to the article, in driving residents away from Houston. "Many have headed to Brazos County, home of College Station," writes Schuetz. "An estimated 3,800 people moved to Brazos County from Harris in 2017, the most recent year for which the Census data is available, making it the most popular destination for people moving out of Houston after Travis County, where Austin is located."

"The pandemic — which recently thrust Houston into the national spotlight for its surge in COVID-19 cases and strained hospital systems — is only the latest in a confluence of trends pulling people from Houston’s hustle and bustle to smaller towns an hour or two away. Terrible commutes, repeated flooding and a disconnect from nature are also driving people from the city," adds Schuetz by way of explaining a reason for the Houston exodus.

Jen Zweiacker, a real estate agent in College Station, "said she receives an influx of calls after every flood event in Houston," in more anecdotal evidence of the demand for non-Houston living. 

Meanwhile, the College Station real estate market is booming: closed home sales grew 17 percent in June compared to the previous year, and the median home price grew 4.5 percent over the same period. Potential buyers could have even more reason to relocate to College Station after the Aggie Expressway tollway is completed in 2023.

An article by Jeff Andrews, written for Curbed in July 2020, argues that articles like this one about Houston, should be read with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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Published on Monday, August 10, 2020 in Houston Chronicle
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