Americans Are Moving, but Staying Close to Home

Despite fears of a mass exodus, most cities are seeing only modest population losses, with the majority of movers staying in the same metro area.

May 6, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Empty Road

Samer / Flickr

Rather than the "urban exodus" that many analysts feared the pandemic would precipitate, write Marie Patino, Aaron Kessler, and Sarah Holder for Bloomberg CityLab, "perhaps it’s more of an urban shuffle." 

As research about the last year begins to crystallize, "data shows most people who did move stayed close to where they came from." According to the authors, "[i]n the country’s 50 most populous cities, 84% of the moves were to somewhere within the perimeter of the central metro area, down just slightly from pre-pandemic levels."

New York City and San Francisco saw more dramatic changes. "The regions around San Francisco and San Jose, two of the country’s most expensive housing markets, saw the rates of permanent moves increase the most, by more than 23% and 17% respectively, compared to 3% nationally." New York City "saw the greatest loss in net moves into the city over the past year" as Manhattan residents relocated to outer boroughs, nearby suburbs like Long Island, and outlying areas like the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region of Connecticut, less than 60 miles from the city. Some smaller cities are seizing on the opportunity with incentive programs designed to attract remote workers.

But the "release valve" created by the sudden boom in remote work "is not available to the majority of American workers, who can’t work remotely, particularly essential workers and low-wage workers." Knowing the remote work boom may not last, cities like Stockton, "a sizable majority-nonwhite city that’s been deemed the most diverse in America," are focusing instead on attracting companies and job opportunities for existing residents.

Monday, April 26, 2021 in Bloomberg CityLab

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Rent

U.S. Rental Market Crosses a New Threshold of Affordability

In a first for the country's rental market, most U.S. apartments are asking for more than $2,000 to rent, according to data recently published by Redfin.

June 21, 2022 - Redfin

New Jersey Power Plant

Supreme Court Guts the U.S. EPA’s Ability to Limit Carbon Emissions

The consequences of this ruling have long been foretold. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now officially barred from the fight against climate change, Congress will have to act to reduce carbon emissions.

June 30 - Yahoo News

Central Los Angeles

California Approves Revised Los Angeles Housing Element

State officials officially approved the city’s housing plan, which was initially rejected for not doing enough to enhance housing equity.

June 30 - Urbanize LA

A fly fisher casts on a fog-covered river.

Lawsuit Could Open Public Access to Colorado Rivers

Colorado is one of few U.S. states that has decided that private property owners supersede the public when it comes to access to rivers and streams.

June 30 - High Country News

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.