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U.S. Movers are Reshuffling into Larger, More-Affordable Homes

·4 min read
  • The average long-distance mover relocated to a ZIP code with home values nearly $27,000 lower than where they came from last year.

  • U.S. movers in 2020 relocated to ZIP codes with homes 33 square feet larger than where they came from, on average.

  • Fast-rising home values and new location options helped movers cash in and find more affordable locales.

Movers that changed states in 2020 moved to areas with homes that were, on average, both larger and less-pricey than in the areas they moved from, according to a Zillow analysis of data from North American Van Lines — a notable reversal of trends from prior years.

The five markets with the most outbound movers in 2020, according to North American Van Lines, were Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The five markets with the most inbound movers were Phoenix, Charlotte, Austin, Dallas and Sarasota, Fla. Nationwide, the average local home value in the ZIP codes movers left was $419,344; the average home value in the ZIP codes they moved to was $392,381, a difference of almost $27,000. In 2019, the average home values in origin and destination ZIP codes was roughly the same (the average value in destination ZIPS was only about $3,362 less than origin ZIP codes).

And of the five years of data analyzed, the average size of homes in origin ZIP codes was the largest in 2020 — but so was the average size of homes in destination ZIPs. The difference in size of 33 square feet between homes in origin ZIPs and destination ZIPs — from 1,880 square feet to 1,913 square feet, respectively — is the rough equivalent of adding a decent-sized walk-in closet, pantry or an additional bathroom to a home.

Moving on Up – Americans' Preferences for Larger Homes, 2016-2020






Ave. Sq. Ft. Origin ZIP






Ave. Sq. Ft. Destination ZIP






Ave. Sq. Ft. Change, Origin to Destination ZIP






Clearly, it seems the nation's interstate movers were particularly motivated to get more house for less money in 2020. And most did so in the tried-and-true American way: By moving to the suburbs. In both 2019 and 2020, moves from suburban to suburban ZIPs were the most common — by far. But beginning last year, moves from urban to suburban ZIPs edged out moves from suburban to urban locales as the second-most-common type of move.

Last year's big change in average home values between origin and destination ZIPs can be explained almost entirely by the rising average home values in origin ZIP codes. Home values in origin ZIPs jumped almost $25,000 from their 2019 averages, while those in destinations stayed roughly flat from 2019, falling just $657. This trend could be partially explained by more movers originating from typically pricier urban ZIP codes — as in 2019, urban ZIP codes in 2020 featured the highest average home values, so more movement out of such ZIP codes would naturally raise the average origin-area home value.

But the price disparity was visible even controlling for the density of the place of origin. People leaving urban ZIP codes in 2019 typically moved somewhere with homes that were, on average, about $23,000 cheaper. In 2020, they moved to places $66,054 cheaper. In fact, all but one of the 9 possible urban/suburban/rural to urban/suburban/rural move combinations saw their price gradients tip further between 2019 and 2020. With the exception of the rarest rural to urban moves, among those making similar density moves, movers on average saved more money in 2020 than they did in 2019.

These data reflect what Zillow calls the "Great Reshuffling," an ongoing confluence of social, demographic and economic factors spurring high demand for housing as Americans rethink where they live and seek to decouple their home location from their office location as telework opportunities grow. Many movers can now move toward more-affordable locales, either seeking to save money or get more bang for their housing buck. Over the longer term, this trend could contribute to an evening out in home prices across the nation, as people move away from the priciest cities and toward more-affordable areas. It may also spread out some of the spending and wealth-accumulation which had been increasingly concentrated in "superstar cities" over the last few decades.

The post U.S. Movers are Reshuffling into Larger, More-Affordable Homes appeared first on Zillow Research.