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In 2020, the pandemic completely changed when, where, and why people moved. Those trends continue to evolve as we enter a third year since the “before times” and inch closer to a new normal.

Here are 7 moving trends to keep an eye on for 2022.

1.   “Hot Pack” summer

If 2021 was the “Hot Vax” summer, then 2022 is looking like the “Hot Pack” summer. A Lending Tree survey of 2,100 people found that nearly 40% of Americans -- some 132 million people -- are considering a move this year and moving company moveBuddha estimates 70% of moves take place between May and August.

Younger generations and remote workers are the top demographics considering a move.

Demographic Percent considering a move in 2022
Gen Zers62%
Millennials53%
Remote workers53%
Renters52%
Hybrid workers50%
Data from Lending Tree.

Forty-six percent of those considering a move hope to buy instead of rent – that’s more than 60.7 million people potentially settling into a newly purchased home in 2022.

Of course, there’s plenty of middle ground between considering a move and going through with one. moveBuddha found that only 8.4% of all Americans or 27 million people moved in 2021, the lowest rate in over 70 years.

It’s unlikely that 40% of the population will move in 2022, but we can safely expect 2022 to be a busier year for moving than 2021.

2.   Elbow room is still a top priority

One pandemic moving trend that appears to have staying power is the desire for more space to work, play, and learn from home.

“My current home is too small” is by far the top reason Americans are thinking about moving in 2022, according to Lending Tree, followed by dreams of homeownership, and reducing housing costs.

Reason to move Percent of respondents
My current home is too small26%
To fulfill my dreams of homeownership17%
My current home is too expensive16%
I’m looking for different features16%
To be in an area with a lower cost of living15%
Data from Lending Tree.

Moving to be closer to loved ones (15%) and moving for a new job (14%) seem to be fading as top reasons to move. A 2021 United Van Lines survey found 32% of Americans cited a new job as their top reason for moving and 31.8% moved to be closer to family.

It will be interesting to see how these trends hold up in the face of eroding affordability. Home prices, rent, and mortgage rates are all expected to rise in 2022, making housing of all kinds more expensive.

3.   Finding room for Fido

Everyone’s wish list varies, but more than half of Americans (54%) contemplating a move this year require a pet-friendly place to live. I guess we know why people feel their current homes are too small.

A pet-friendly living situation outpaced outdoor space (54%), large kitchen (43%), good school district (42%) and office space (25%).

Pet-friendliness ranked as the top must-have for Gen Zers (58%) and Gen Xers (55%). Meanwhile, outdoor space was the top feature for millennials (54%) and covered parking was the top priority for baby boomers (51%).

4.   Own over rent

As mentioned above, 46% of the 132 million people considering a move in 2022 plan to own. Another 39% plan to rent while 15% are unsure.

Age doesn’t seem to play much of a factor. Baby boomers (51%) and millennials (49%) plan to own, while 50% of Gen Zers plan to rent.

Income, however, is a strong predictor of who plans to rent or own. For people making $35,000 per year or less, 60% plan to rent, 20% plan to own, and the rest are unsure. Among people making $100,000 per year or more, 79% plan to own while 17% plan to rent.

Owning becomes the dominant option around the $50,000 annual income mark.

5. The pandemic impact is waning

According to the Lending Tree survey, 34% of people agreed that the pandemic has completely changed where they want to live, while 38% disagreed and 28% were neutral.

The pandemic affected the moving decisions of younger generations more than older ones.

Gen Zers (18-24) Millennials (25-40) Gen Xers (41-55) Baby boomers (56-75)
Agree49%43%31%17%
Disagree17%28%40%56%

The United Van Lines survey found that just 9.1% of movers said COVID impacted their decision in November 2021, down from a peak of 20.2% in October 2020.

6.   The Big Apple bites back

In 2020, roughly two people moved out of New York City for every person moving in, giving the Big Apple a net inflow ratio of 0.5 (the number of people moving in divided by the number of people moving out), according to moveBuddha.

That trend reversed in 2021 and New York City had a net inflow ratio of 1.37, which means more people moved in than out.

Washington D.C., Boston, and San Francisco also saw increases in their net inflow ratios from 2020 to 2021, suggesting 2022 may be ripe for a return to big cities.

moveBuddha also found that even when people leave big cities, most tend to move to other big cities. In 2021, people that left America’s 30 biggest cities went to cities that were on average 30% larger.

7.   Migration to pandemic getaways is slowing

In 2020, it seemed like everyone had a friend or family member moving to the mountains or somewhere remote, and the top cities for inflow read like a list of locations to hunt for Sasquatch. Missoula, Mont. lead the way with more than 7 people moving in for every one that moved out.

But that trend slowed in 2021 and may continue to fade in 2022, although these cities are still experiencing rapid growth.

City Net inflow ratio 2020 Net inflow ratio 2022 Percent change
Missoula, Mont.7.14-308.5
Portland, Maine4.74-74.3
Bend, Ore.3.21.7-145.8
Boise, Idaho3.51.7-181.9
Boulder, Colo.3.31.8-148.0

At the state level, Idaho (-165), South Dakota (-131.6), Montana (-98.4), North Dakota (-60.8), and Oregon (-43.7) saw the greatest decreases in net inflow from 2020 to 2021.

8.   Post-pandemic Boomtowns

Phoenix, Boise, and Austin emerged as the top pandemic moving destinations, but back-to-back years of rapid growth have made affordability an issue for many homebuyers.

Based on inflow trends from 2020-2021, movers have their eyes on a new set of cities that are still affordable. For example, after explosive population and price growth in Missoula early in the pandemic, movers have turned to Billings as an affordable alternative.

Tampa and several other mid-size Florida cities are poised for growth in 2022.

City Net inflow ratio 2020 Net inflow ratio 2022 Percent change
Billings, Mont.2.73.9121.3
Naples, Fla.2.73.691.3
Tampa, Fla.2.73.417.4
The Villages, Fla.2.24.6235.6
Leander, Texas2.23.5128.6

With affordability a major challenge in 2022, movers – especially homebuyers – will likely turn to small- to mid- sized metros in order to find the space and pet-friendliness they so desire.

However, it seems big cities are very much back in play, which may help to spread demand across various regions and markets.


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