Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Americans Stay Put

Americans are not moving from one residence to another nearly as often as you would expect from historical patterns, according to the latest census report, “Geographical Mobility: 2012 to 2013.” The 2013 mover rate of 11.7 percent is not significantly above the record low of 11.6 percent set in 2011. It is not just that people are financially stuck in their current houses — among those who moved, most stayed within the same county. Only 4 million moved at least 200 miles and into a different state. For those moving from one state to another, the biggest group are moving from California to Texas — hardly a surprise given the size of the two states, but a large enough trend that it will surely soften Texas’ sometimes confrontational culture over time. The report notes that people living in poverty are more likely to move than others, but those numbers are skewed by the inclusion of a disproportionate number of college students in that category.

The pattern of moves is interesting, but the bigger story is found in the 88.3 percent of Americans who stayed in the same residence as last year. Part of this is financial pressure, to be sure, but part of it may also be the growing inertia that comes with owning more and more material possessions, making it more work to move. I think also people are not putting quite so much emphasis on living in an impressive home — perhaps because people simply aren’t as impressed with homes as they were a few years ago.