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31% of young adults moved during COVID-19: Survey

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Bankrate Analyst Zach Wichter joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss Bankrate's new survey detailing which age groups were most likely to move during COVID-19, along with the most popular cities for relocation.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back. You may have anecdotally heard a few examples of Americans moving during the pandemic, perhaps looking for a bit more space or just a fresh start through all of this. Now, a new survey from Bankrate is finally putting some numbers behind that. And, interestingly, or perhaps maybe not a surprise here, younger Americans moving more frequently-- the number there 31% ages 18 to 31 saying that they relocated for an extended period or permanently according to that Bankrate survey.

And for more, I want to bring on Bankrate analyst Zach Wichter here with us. And, Zach, I mean, when we look at it, I guess it's expected that younger Americans are more free-floating. We can just take up and find a new location. But what are you seeing when you dig into that data, maybe beyond just the age breakdown here?

ZACH WICHTER: Yeah, exactly. So I think that that's what you said is a really key point-- that it's these younger people who are the most likely to move. Gen Z in this survey that Bankrate commissioned from YouGov, 32% of the Gen Z respondents said that they moved in 2020, followed by 26% of millennial respondents. And that probably just tracks with what they would be doing anyway.

You know, they are graduating from college. Millennials maybe are getting ready to have kids, so they're looking for a little bit more space. To me, the other thing that we found between this YouGov survey and the United States Postal Service data that we analyzed, the key point was really despite everything you may have heard about people leaving cities-- people may have been leaving the densest parts of cities-- in New York, for example, a lot of people left Manhattan-- but they weren't going too far afield. In New York, people mostly just went to Brooklyn-- so going places where they may be able to get a little more space, a little more bang for their buck, but not going to the middle of a cornfield for the most part.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I mean, you sort of answered this, but I wonder if you can elaborate a bit more on the financial constraints that particularly millennials face-- if that's the largest group that had to move. How much of it was driven by financial factors? We heard even before the pandemic about how younger Americans are living at home for a much longer period of time.

ZACH WICHTER: Yeah, exactly. Housing affordability was a key reason that people said that they wanted to move during the pandemic. 27% of those who responded to our YouGov Bankrate survey said that housing affordability was one of the main motivating factors for their move. Also, I just want to apologize if you can hear my cat-- he obviously wants to be on camera, and I'm keeping him off the shot for now.

ZACK GUZMAN: Oh, good. No, that's completely fine. I mean, cats add to a lot of our work-from-home pieces. But I think it speaks to kind of your point here and the stats that you're highlighting-- kind of relocated for work, 21%, is one of those excuses that's given. And also to your point on maybe relocating-- still sticking around areas that, you know, you're kind of-- you broke some of those out-- Pflugerville, one of those ones by Austin, Carrollton, one of those ones by Dallas. I mean, it seems like a lot's being made of maybe people completely abandoning California and New York moving to Texas, but that's not the case when you look into, I guess, the data that you crunched.

ZACH WICHTER: Yeah, exactly. For the most part, the USPS data, which does have some limitations, it really only tracks, basically, the trendiest moves. It leaves a lot of kind of random stuff out on the bottom of the data because it doesn't provide data on people who moved-- like, if a zip code pair had less than 10 requests, it doesn't get factored in. Which, like I said, is just a fancy way of saying it only tells you the top trends.

But those top trends really were people stayed pretty close to home. For all of the top five cities for move-outs, the most common moved-to destinations were 30 miles away or less for the most part.

AKIKO FUJITA: So what does that suggest in terms of mobility post-COVID? If we're talking about a specific age group, is this a temporary shift? Or just like we've been talking about businesses, are we likely to see an inflow, a younger demographic in some of these cities that Zach just alluded to-- places like Texas, places like Florida? Is that bringing down the demographic because so many younger Americans are moving away from what have traditionally been the hubs?

ZACH WICHTER: I think it's a little hard to say because, obviously, so much depends on the pandemic recovery. What seems pretty clear is that people are taking advantage of the flexibility that working from home provides to them. It's hard to extrapolate, though, if companies are going to keep letting them do that what it means for post-pandemic. People may not need to go into the office quite as much, but if they're happy where they're living, they may not be so desperate to move somewhere just for more affordable housing. Like I said, people aren't fleeing the cities. They're just moving to places where they can get a little more bang for their buck, generally in the same areas.

AKIKO FUJITA: Our thanks to Zach Wichter and your cat, Zach, for making a--

ZACH WICHTER: Yeah, no problem. Sorry, again, about that.

AKIKO FUJITA: Bankrate analyst. Good to talk to you today, appreciate your time.