An interesting phenomenon is taking place in the U.S. Instead of relocating for jobs across the country as the Baby Boomers did in the 1970s, Americans of all ages are moving to improve their quality of life. But despite media stories about people leaving cities in droves to telecommute from bucolic settings, a study by Hireahelper.com says that 2021 had the lowest percentage of people moving in one year ever recorded. Only 8% of the population, or 26.4 million people moved last year, sustaining a falling trend that’s been going on for decades.
So what is making moves in 2022 newsworthy? A perfect storm of disruptive circumstances. COVID and its deadly variants has been going on for two years, causing massive illness and death, job losses and business closures. Employers have had to pivot to keep their businesses going, such as restaurants offering take-out only and offices shutting down and letting their workers telecommute. The housing market was already brisk, but exploded in 2020, with double digit price increases and low inventories.
But in the midst of this chaos, a movement began to grow – workers want more money, resulting in an exodus from jobs that are too demanding, unfulfilling, and that don’t pay enough, offer enough benefits, or support career advancement. It’s happened often enough that economists are calling the phenomenon “The Great Resignation.” People who lost jobs were forced to reinvent themselves, and many people who were still employed but dissatisfied decided that they want better working conditions or a better work-life balance.
According to Computerworld.com, a recent survey of 26,000 employees showed that 22% of job seekers quit their jobs before hunting for a new one, and 73% of currently employed are thinking about quitting. They’re unhappy with how their employers treated them (19%), low pay or lack of benefits (17%), and lack of work-life balance (13%.) Twenty percent of workers who quit wanted a new career and 43% felt their careers had stalled. Gen Z workers (38%) want greater transparency in development and advancement.
Almost one in four employees will look for new jobs in 2022. Psychologist Anthony Klotz says that worker empowerment will result in new trends for 2022. Resignations will slow down because employers will offer better terms, flexible working conditions will become the norm not the exception, and flexible work opportunities will become more competitive.
While fewer people moved in 2021, the ones who did moved further away from their previous homes. Forty percent of Americans moved to a different county and 17% moved to another state. These COVID-related moves are the highest percentages since the early 2000s when households reacted to the events of 9-11 by “cocooning.”
A study by Porch in late 2021 found that the primary reasons people moved was to upgrade to a larger home (35%), move closer to family, move to a safer home (25%), accommodate growing family size (22%) and relocating for a new job (18%).
Forbes.com reports that major U.S. metro areas have been seeing a net decrease in moves into the city for some time, while suburbs and some smaller cities are seeing some net gains. During COVID, 82% of urban centers had more people moving out than in, while 92% of suburban counties had more people moving in than out.
In the 45th Annual National Movers Study, United Van Lines found that nine of the top 10 outbound states are considered densely populated. New Jersey (71%) lost the most population for the fourth year in a row, followed by Illinois (67%), New York (63%), Connecticut (60%) and California (59%).
Less densely populated Vermont had the highest percentage (74%) of inbound migration, followed by South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Florida.
Extraspace.com cited Arizona, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas as their most frequent destinations.
For 2022, GentleGiant.com compiled a list of trending cities to move to based on information such as affordability, average salary, schools, and employment opportunities. The cities are ranked according to data from U.S. News & World Report and the U.S. Census:
Raleigh, North Carolina – With a population of 460,000, Raleigh meets the criteria many homebuyers seek of a less densely populated area. The city offers low crime rates, quality education, and a healthy job market. Raleigh, along with Durham and Chapel Hill, form the famous Research Triangle Park, the “Silicon Valley of the east.” Tech giants like IBM, Red Hat, Cisco, Lenovo, NetApp, among many others. Biotech firms include GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen Idec, BASF, Merck & Co., Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, and Pfizer, among others. In addition to a plethora of employment opportunities, the Raleigh area is home to some of the finest universities including Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Other nicknames for Raleigh include the “Smithsonian of the South,” because of its numerous museums. There’s also plenty of night life, music, and art. Zagat rated Raleigh the 12th best food town in the U.S.
Naples, Florida – Hot in more ways than one, Naples offers plenty of sunshine and over 10 miles of pristine coastline beaches. Its southwest location in the Gulf of Mexico keeps ocean waters warm year-round. The city also boasts over 70 golf courses. With a low population of 20,000, no state income tax, real estate tax, or inheritance tax, Naples is an ideal location for sun-lovers who value a laid-back lifestyle. While over half the residents are retirees, many later-career and younger professionals have relocated to the area.
Austin, Texas – Austin’s two nicknames give broad hints why this college town is so attractive to students, working adults and families. “The live music capital of the world” is also known as “Silicon Prairie” where residents can both work and party hard. With over 2 million people in the metro area, Austin has a median age of 35, and a quarter of the population is under 20. Quality-of-life oriented, the city offers over 300 parks and 227 miles of walking, biking and running trails.
More than 46% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Austin is home to six universities, including the original campus of the University of Texas and boasts some of the highest ranked K-12s in the country. With such brainpower, residents are innovative and attractive to high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Dell, and Oracle which have originated, relocated or built satellite campuses in the city.
Boise, Idaho – Boise, with a population of over 700,000 is one of the ‘fastest growing cities in the U.S.’ due to its low unemployment rate and family first lifestyle.
USNews.com compiled a list of the 150 Best Places to Live, beginning with scenic Boulder, Colorado; Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama, home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp; college town and cultural center Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Austin, Texas. Best places to retire includes four Florida cities – Sarasota, Naples, Daytona Beach, Melbourne, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.