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The number of people moving in the United States has declined significantly in the 21st century—until now. In the 2000s, about 20% of Americans would move in a given year compared to figures in the low teens more recently. Even data including the peak years of the coronavirus pandemic shows a decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 13.7% of Americans moved in 2019 compared to 12.8% in 2021.
But it looks like this downward trend is changing. The research team at Architectural Digest surveyed 1,000 individuals on their moving plans for 2023 and what would compel them to move in the future. We found that roughly 29% plan to move in 2023, and another nearly 26% aspire to move but have no plans to do so.
While not everyone with plans to move will follow through, this points to a core finding: Americans are restless. Most of them are moving, plan to move, or want to move—only 15% of respondents say nothing would compel them to move in the future.
Below we discuss how different generations and demographics feel about moving and what their motivations are. For more information about our data collection, visit our Methodology section below.
- Gen Z and millennials are on the move. About 39% have relocated or plan to in 2023, driven by affordability, jobs, and safety concerns.
- Americans crave more affordable living: 29% plan to move this year to lower their cost of living.
- Gen Z (28%) and baby boomers (18%) would be willing to move to communities that share their beliefs and values.
- More than 30% of younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) want to relocate to a safer area.
What Are People Willing to Move For in 2023?
Most individuals are willing to move for one reason or another. We asked survey respondents—those with plans to move in 2023 and those without—what they would be willing to move for in the future.
Affordability Is the Top Reason People Are Willing to Move
Of the roughly 85% of individuals (across Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers) who would move for one reason or another, affordability was the most cited reason. Nearly 42% of respondents reported that finding an area with more affordable housing or a lower cost of living would compel them to move.
The other top reasons to move vary by age, but two additional factors besides affordability rank in the top reasons to move across all generations:
- To live in a safer area
- To be closer to friends and family
Whether you are in your 20s or 60s, living in a safe area and being close to loved ones are the top reasons that may spur a move.
Additional factors that are more age-specific rank differently. For instance, Gen Z and millennials rank moving for a new job as the number two reason to move. Meanwhile, taxes rank in the top five reasons for Gen X and baby boomers.
1 in 4 Baby Boomers Aren’t Willing to Move
Only 15% of survey respondents are dead-set on staying where they are, saying nothing would make them move. But these numbers vary by age. Below you can see the percentage of individuals who say they are not willing to move for any reason by generation:
- Gen Z: 5.1%
- Millennials: 7.9%
- Gen X: 14.9%
- Baby boomers: 25.7%
About 25% of baby boomers say nothing would make them move compared to only about 5% of Generation Z’ers.
Who Is Moving in 2023?
Although 55% of respondents say that they want to move homes or locations, only about 29% say it would happen within the calendar year. Roughly 4% of people say they’ve already moved in 2023, and more than 26% plan to move in the second half of the year.
The word “plan” is essential to note here. In recent years, only about 12% of people move. If the trend continues, we can assume not all respondents who say they are planning to move this year will end up following through.
Moving Plans by Generation
Though Gen X and baby boomers say they’re up for making a change, Gen Z and millennials have more solidified plans to move in 2023. The percentage of people who have moved or plan to move in 2023 by generation is below.
More than one in three Gen Z and millennials say they have already moved or plan to move in 2023. Meanwhile, only about 1 in 10 baby boomers say they moved this year or will do so in the second half of 2023.
Gen Z and millennials are also potentially moving longer distances. Nearly 7% of Gen Z’ers say they will move across state lines this year compared to only 3% of Gen X’ers.
Although many people report wanting to move, individuals are also highly attuned to the downsides of moving. As previously noted, roughly 26% of individuals surveyed say they would like to move but don’t plan to in 2023. We asked them why, and their responses are below.
Interested in Moving, Concerned About Cost
More than half of the 26% of individuals saying they want to move but do not plan to do so cited moving expenses as the primary deterrent.
Long-distance moving services typically range in cost from $4,200 to $12,100, with distance and home size being the two biggest factors affecting your quote. And even if you complete the move yourself, the cost of moving boxes, a truck rental, and related expenses add up.
Moving Is Too Stressful for Many
Cost is not the only hurdle for moving, however. We asked all survey respondents (those moving and those not) what they thought was the most stressful part of moving, and cost came in as the second most chosen answer.
The top stressor was how physically taxing moving can be, with more than one in five people (22%) citing that as the most stressful part of moving. Even if you opt to work with a full-service moving company, you’ll likely still need to do at least some packing yourself.
Despite declining moving rates over the past several years, Americans of all ages continue to question where they live and consider making a change.
Where you choose to live and why are deeply personal. Though the media has focused on larger economic, political, and environmental factors that affect population shifts, we found our survey respondents are largely thinking about how where they live affects their day-to-day lives. For example, is housing affordable there? Will I feel safe? Do my family and friends live nearby?
If you’re planning a move, we recommend requesting quotes from three moving companies. Then, compare the estimates to see how the pricing structures differ among the moving providers.
The research team at Architectural Digest surveyed 1,000 Americans using Pollfish, a third-party market research and survey platform, to better understand factors influencing people’s choice to move or stay put. We collected survey data for this report in June 2023.
The breakdown of survey respondents by generation is below:
- Generation Z: 16% of respondents
- Millennials: 43% of respondents
- Generation X: 27% of respondents
- Baby boomers: 13% of respondents
Using the raw survey data, we weighed responses to align with population demographics across age, gender, and income status to represent all U.S. adults (aged 18+). The margin of error is +/- 3% with 95% confidence.
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