Why People Move – And Why They Don’t

Posted in: I'm a Mover, Moving Industry News

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Earlier in the year we took a look at where people in the US were moving – and where they were moving from. The van lines conducting these studies also told us a bit about what made the most popular destinations desirable. But what these surveys didn’t tell us was who actually wanted to move, why they wanted to move, and how many of those who wanted to move actually never did.

Thanks to our friends at CityLab.com and the US Census Bureau, we now know.

Citylab's Who Wants to Move vs. Who's Moving

We can summarize this summarization of this US Census report by noting a few major points:

  • 10% of US households desire to move
  • “Dissatisfied with their own housing” main reason for moving
  • Younger renters are most likely to move, but also those retiring
  • People who just had a baby in the last year are surprisingly likely to move

In 2010, the year for which the data was collected, almost 10% of US households reported a desire to move. Yet only one-fifth of those had actually moved by the following year. (We’d bet a lot of people would report wanting to live on a tropical island too, with few actually doing so, within a year or ever.)

The largest percentage of those who wanted to move gave ‘dissatisfied with their own housing’ as the main reason. Other common factors included dissatisfaction with the neighborhood and concerns about crime and safety.

Tying these together is the finding that “those at the bottom of the socio-economic order (and much more likely to live in poor or poverty-stricken neighborhoods) were more likely to want to move” – yet the same people were the least likely to actually make that move. We are not told why but we might assume many people simply can’t afford to move – and where would they end up moving to anyway?

Interestingly, the US Census study found that “56 percent or about 4.2 million stayers who reported desiring to move during 2010 did not report desiring to move when interviewed again in 2011. Yet, about 4.7 million stayers who did not report desiring to move in 2010 reported desiring to move in 2011.” In other words, people change their minds – yet as a society we do so fairly evenly.

Looking at those who actually did move:

We find the greatest percentages in (1) the younger age groups and (2) the home renters. There’s likely a fair amount of crossover here since younger people are more likely to rent than own the home they live in. No big surprises there.

What may be surprising is the finding that people who have had a baby in the past year are more likely to want to move. As anyone who has ever had children can attest, having a newborn in the house does not translate into a whole lot of extra free time to even clean the house let alone move to a new one. Perhaps the need or desire for extra space is the driving factor.

As for those who don’t want to move?

For all the economic and practical aspects of life that influence our desire to move, the things that make us want to stay are quite another matter. According to this CityLab piece the factors that keep people at home are family, friends and emotional ties to the community.

So maybe the old saying is true: Home is where the heart is.


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