One of many trends that emerged during the course of the pandemic is the need for Americans to find another place to live. And while the reasons seem to be varied across the board, the results are the same. According to one United States Postal Service report, based on actual requests for temporary and permanent address changes, more than 15.9 million people have moved since the COVID-19 virus was first announced early last year. But where is everyone moving during the pandemic?
Why People Are Moving During the Pandemic
There are plenty of different reasons behind the necessity to move. Some people wanted to be closer to other family members. Others simply took advantage of a really hot housing market. But there is no question about it. The pandemic inspired an awful lot of new zip codes.
Social Distancing & Safety Concerns
Some pockets of the country saw more increased outbreaks than others, like New York City, for example. Other cities experienced more civil unrest and violence, including Portland. Looking for ways to avoid overexposure to too many people and to put more distance between themselves and potential violence, many people chose to move. Unfounded or not, many Americans made the decision to move out of these fears alone.
Financial & Economic Motivation
For some, moving during the pandemic was merely a financial opportunity. With incredibly low interest rates, it just made sense to move or buy the new house. Other households were forced to pack up and move because of more negative financial strains. Furloughs and job losses in record-breaking numbers meant mortgage payments became harder to pay. Families were quickly on the hunt for more affordable housing options.
Remote Working Environments
Out of necessity, companies began embracing remote working environments. And to their surprise, productivity in many cases increased. Even now, with many mitigation restrictions lifted, employees are still working from the home office and meeting with clients over Zoom calls. People used to need to live where they worked. But this emerging normalcy of remote working means individuals can live anywhere and still go to work. Moving to a more comfortable area, without worrying about a commute, and with a bigger home office motivated many.
Leaving the Major Metropolitan Areas
Most of the pandemic moves occurred within the first six months of its arrival in the U.S. And while some of the reasons and stats vary on why people moved, one similar factor is evident. People are leaving the big cities.
Too Many People
One of the more obvious reasons to leave the cities is to get away from the people. Higher populated areas seemed to be hit harder by the virus than less populated areas. And all those people, in close proximity, meant a higher risk of viral spread. Getting away from riots, looting, and civil unrest also affected those decisions to leave the cities.
Many people left the major metropolitan areas and big cities because they simply couldn’t afford to live there anymore. Regions and housing markets that typically have a higher cost of living rate saw drops in residents during the pandemic. With job losses and financial strains, moving to the suburbs, rural communities, and out of state proved to be the cheaper solutions for many individuals and families.
Cities People Left the Most
As people look to reduce how much time they spend in public, heavily populated cities have seen the most significant decrease in populations. The highest net losses, according to the USPS reported data, hit cities like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago the hardest. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Naples also top the list of cities losing residents to moves.
Where Are Most People Moving?
It might be obvious that individuals and families are moving away from the populated areas. But where are they moving to these days? And what makes these new locations more attractive to residents?
Moving to the Suburbs
Even thriving, city-loving residents are venturing outside the city limits. Many of the ‘Change of Address’ requests submitted were for new residences in the suburbs. Typically, suburbs have always been able to present the best of both worlds – quiet neighborhoods and nearby city amenities. But the pandemic gave more reasons to relocate to those quiet and more socially distant neighborhoods. And remote working has removed the commuting burdens for many Americans, as well.
Finding Peace in Rural Communities
Many communities faced challenges beyond those health concerns of the Coronavirus. Over the past year, the country experienced prominent racial injustices, politically charged elections, and civil unrest. For some people, the only oasis that made sense was a home in more rural and small-town communities. To get away from everyone and everything, finding a house in the country seemed to be the ideal solution.
Financially Attractive States
Some states experienced more hardships than others when it comes to the pandemic and financial strains. Heavy job losses drove flocks of people to seek employment elsewhere and across state lines. State-run unemployment systems struggled to keep up with the demands, and resources were scarcer in some markets than others. California is reported to have lost 135,600 more residents than it gained in 2020. Illinois saw a decrease of just under 80,000 people from the previous year’s population count.
Some of the other statistics out there, including a Pew Research Centersurvey of nearly 10,000 American adults, suggest other reasons for moves during the pandemic. About 28% agreed the move was due to fear of contracting the virus. Another 20% indicated moving during the pandemic was necessary to relocate near family members. College students, 23% of them, were forced to move because campuses closed down.
If you are considering a move, or are facing a job loss, don’t forget that you still have health insurance options. These qualifying life events afford you a fresh chance to shop for affordable health insurance via the Marketplace. And to help you navigate this special enrollment period and to help you calculate your eligible tax benefits, browse with W3LL.
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