It Should be Easier and Less Expensive for Americans to Move to Affordable Parts of the Country

Updated on July 31st, 2019
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2020 Presidential Candidates want to make housing more affordable, but only Andrew Yang has proposed a policy that would make it easier for Americans to move to metros that already have affordable housing

In expensive metros like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, home prices have risen so much in the last decade that many local residents can no longer afford the cost of housing where they live. 2020 Presidential candidates like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker want to help this situation by providing rent relief (a refundable tax credit) to renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities. But such a policy would encourage renters to stay where they are and continue on as renters without a way to gain wealth through home equity as homeowners. Their opponent Andrew Yang has a different idea; he wants to make it easier for Americans to move to places with better economic opportunity and affordability.

To do so, Yang proposes giving a $1,000 tax refund to any American relocating for work, in addition to a $1,000 per month universal basic income. He also wants to reevaluate professional licensing requirements that make it difficult to move across state lines. A nail technician in California, for example, couldn’t immediately open a business in Texas before gaining a Texas license.

However, many Americans don’t just want to move to find a job. Americans want to move so they can live and work in a place where they can afford to buy a home. In San Francisco, less than 1 percent of homes for sale are affordable to a household making the national median income, so it’s no wonder that 21 percent of Redfin users located in the Bay Area are looking for homes outside of the metro.

But moving isn’t so easy. It can cost thousands of dollars to move across the country. And a family may be spending so much of their income on housing that they don’t have enough money saved up to afford a move, even if their economic prospects would be better off in the long-run if they did move.

I’m in favor of Andrew Yang’s policy to make it easier for Americans to move, and I hope more candidates add the policy to their platforms. The policy isn’t a silver bullet. Moving across the country will still be difficult for many Americans, especially if they are leaving behind friends and family. However, there are many people who want to make a move that would put them on a better path toward the American dream, but just need a little help.

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darylfairweather

Daryl Fairweather is the chief economist of Redfin. Prior to joining Redfin she was a senior economist at Amazon working on problems related to employee engagement and managing a team of analysts. During the housing crisis, Daryl worked as a researcher at the Boston Fed studying why homeowners entered foreclosure. Daryl received her Bachelor's of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received her Ph.D. and Master's degrees in economics at the University of Chicago where she specialized in behavioral economics.

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