Nearly 1 in 10 Americans Want to Move

New Census Bureau Study Reveals Why

Nearly 1 in 10 Americans Want to Move
May 4, 2015

You are weighing a decision to move. Perhaps your neighborhood is in decline since the elephant trainer moved in next-door (your assumption based on the noise). Maybe you can finally afford a move you have always wanted to make, or you are simply ready for a change.

For whatever reason, you are not alone. A new study released by the Census Bureau shows that 9.6% of Americans have a desire to move, based on census data from the annual American Community Survey (ACS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The report Desire to Move and Residential Mobility: 2010-2011 looks into the demographics of those wanting to move and their reasons.

The study categorized characteristics of people who were more likely to want to move, noting that there is overlap between the categories. Here are a few of the examples.

  • Renters – At a 16.5% rate, renters were over twice as likely as homeowners to want to move. That does not necessarily mean that all of them wanted to become homeowners, but it does show a higher rate of dissatisfaction. Consider that it is generally easier to move from a rental as compared to having to sell or rent out your current home to buy a new one.

  • Youth – Almost 14.6% of respondents between the ages of 16 and 34 expressed a wish to move. The wanderlust leaves in later years, as the numbers dropped to 10.4% for respondents aged 35–54 and to 6.3% for those above 55. Perhaps we are more set in our ways later in life, or just do not want to deal with the hassles of a potential move even when we are dissatisfied.

  • Poor Neighborhood – Based on census tract poverty data to assess the well-being of a neighborhood, those in more impoverished areas were more likely to want to move. Respondents wanting to move lived in areas with an average poverty rate of 13.7% as compared to the average neighborhood poverty rate of 10.3% across all homeowners.

  • Disabled Householders – Only 8.2% of respondents without a disability wanted to move, while 12.5% of disabled respondents preferred to relocate.

  • Householders with Children – While 8.7% of households without children wanted to move in 2010, 14.3% of the householders with children expressed a desire to move. (We will assume that generally, parents wanted to bring their children with them.) The survey does not explore the reasons, but factors could range from family size outgrowing their current house to the preference for different school districts.

The four reasons listed as motivating factors to move were: dissatisfaction with housing conditions (6.1%), concerns about their neighborhood (4.7%), concerns about crime and their safety (4.1%) and dissatisfaction with the public services (1.8%). Those four questions were listed specifically on the SIPP survey; undoubtedly, there are many other reasons that were not expressed.

Of course, merely wanting to move does not mean that you will. Of the people who had wanted to move during 2010 but chose not to, the survey found that 56% had changed their mind and no longer wanted to move. However, the study finds that those who do follow through with a move are generally satisfied with their decision.

The report contains other demographic comparisons of potential movers and those who followed through with a move, including race, marital status, income, and educational levels. The full report may be found at http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p70-140.pdf. Sorry, but there are no statistics on those who want to move away from trumpeting elephant neighbors.

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