More Americans Are Moving to the Sun Belt Than Ever Before

Top Metros for Net Inbound and Outbound Moves

A new Zillow survey finds more than 1 in 10 Americans (11%) say they have already moved in the past year — by choice or by circumstance — contributing to the Great Reshuffling, and millions of additional households could enter the real estate market as a result of the pandemic.

The pandemic has upended the meaning of home and prompted many of us to rethink how and where we want to live.

Moving remains challenging, but it can bring more opportunity now than ever before, thanks in part to the rise of remote work. That inspired Zillow to publish its first ever Mover Report, a data-based dive into the people and emotions driving moves this spring home shopping season. Here’s what we found:

People want or need to move, even in a pandemic

Zillow research has found a significant number of homeowners say they’re more likely to move and sell their home as a result of the pandemic, representing an additional 2.5 million households that could enter a real estate market already driven by unrelenting demand.

Life and financial uncertainty are among the top reasons homeowners have not listed their home for sale during the pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccine is likely to change that and prompt many more people to move. Zillow data finds a large majority of homeowners (70%) say they would be mostly or completely comfortable moving to a new home when there is widespread vaccine distribution.

More than 1 in 10 Americans (11%) have already moved during the pandemic, according to a new survey from Zillow conducted online by the Harris Poll.

Among those recent movers, three quarters (75%) say they moved for positive reasons, such as being closer to family or friends or living in an area they’ve always dreamed of. 

New flexibility to telework has opened up those opportunities for many, and new real estate technology, like Zillow’s 3D home tours and interactive floor plans, has enabled movers to get an immersive experience of a home from hundreds or thousands of miles away, offering added confidence for buyers shopping remotely.

The Sun Belt tops moving destinations

Phoenix, Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas, saw the highest net inbound moves in the first 11 months of 2020, as recent movers sought out relative affordability and warmer weather.

Those Sun Belt metros are expected to continue to surge in 2021. Zillow’s panel of experts predicted the Austin and Phoenix housing markets will outperform the national market this year.   

Data from northAmerican® Van Lines also finds some of the country’s largest and most expensive housing markets saw the highest net outbound moves, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Zillow saw for-sale inventory in these metros climb in the city, while inventory nationally hit new lows.

“The pandemic brought an acceleration of trends we were seeing in 2018 and 2019,” says Zillow senior economist Jeff Tucker.

“More affordable, medium-sized metro areas across the Sun Belt saw significantly more people coming than going, especially from more expensive, larger cities farther north and on the coasts. The pandemic has catalyzed purchases by millennial first-time buyers, many of whom can now work from anywhere.” 

Emotional Barriers and Rewards

For more locals coverage, stay on