Long distance moving companies got more bang for their buck in 2020.
The average out-of-town move last year moved to areas where houses cost less and had more space, on average, according to a Zillow report.
If the pattern continues, it would help smooth the extremes in the US housing market.
“In the longer term, this trend could contribute to a nationwide home price match,” Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow, wrote in the report. “It can also spread some of the spending and accumulation of wealth that had become increasingly concentrated in ‘superstar cities’ in recent years.”
Zillow, using data from North American Van Lines, found that the long-distance moving medium was relocating to zip codes where homes sold were 33 square feet larger and home values were nearly $ 27,000 lower than the location of where they came from.
The five cities with the most outbound movements were Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among the most expensive real estate markets in the country. The cities with the most inbound movements were Phoenix, Charlotte, Austin, Dallas and Sarasota.
Although home prices have risen, especially in midsize cities like Phoenix and Austin, long-distance relocators from expensive cities like San Francisco and New York find home prices much cheaper than in their home cities.
Some tech workers, like those at Yelp, Twitter, and Zillow, have been given the option of permanently working remotely. Other companies like Oracle and Tesla are moving their headquarters to Austin, Texas, bringing with them their California employees with big salaries in technology.
The most common move last year was from one suburban ZIP code to another, as it was in 2019. But the second most common was from urban to suburban, replacing number 2 of 2019: suburban to urban moves.
Zillow sees this data as evidence of a “major reorganization,” meaning that social, demographic and economic factors have caused more Americans to relocate to areas that are cheaper and less dense.
Still, the report maintains that the supposed urban exodus of the pandemic has been exaggerated. The largest increase in moves was not from cities to suburbs, but from suburbs to rural areas, which grew in 1.2 percent.
Contrary to the narrative that the coronavirus caused the flight of cities, the report found that the proportion of people who moved from urban areas did not increase significantly in 2020.