Migrants Out of Expensive West Coast Metros Flocked to Portland, Oregon in Q4

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Meanwhile, affordable stalwarts Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Atlanta continued to dominate the list of the top migration destinations.

Twenty-six percent of Redfin.com home searchers looked to move to another metro area in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to 25% during the same period last year. This ties the all-time high for the national share of home-searchers looking to relocate that was set in the third quarter of 2019. The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than 1 million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 87 metro areas from October through December.

Moving In — U.S. Metros Attracting the Most Migrants

Portland, Oregon regained a spot in the top 10 list of metro areas with the highest net inflow of Redfin users, coming in at seventh after falling out of the list in Q1 of 2019. Nashville was also a new addition to the top 10 this month at number 10. San Diego and Charlotte both fell out of the top 10. A net inflow means more people are looking to move in than leave, while a net outflow means there are more people looking to leave than people looking to move in.

Phoenix moved back into the number one spot in the fourth quarter after slipping to third place in the third quarter. Boston’s reign at number one was short-lived: after one quarter at the top it fell to ninth place.

At just $400,000, Portland has one of the most affordable median home prices among major West Coast cities, which makes it an attractive location for inbound residents from other more expensive cities across the west coast such as San Francisco (median price $1.32 million), Seattle ($572,500) and Los Angeles ($649,000).

Origin MetroMedian Price, December 2019Share of Migration to Portland, Q4 2019
San Francisco, CA$1,322,50027.8%
Seattle, WA$572,50015.3%
Los Angeles, CA$649,00013.1%
Eugene, OR$325,0008.1%
New York, NY$488,0004.0%
San Diego, CA$581,0002.7%
Sacramento, CA$410,0002.3%

“The ability to work remotely is a huge factor in people relocating, especially within the same time zone,” said Portland Redfin agent Megan Warren. “I just met with a homebuyer who is moving here from Oakland in the spring. Working remotely is allowing him to sell his condo in a less desirable part of the Bay Area for over $500,000 and buy a serious upgrade in space, safety, and neighborhood in the Portland area.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Users and Their Top Origins
RankMetro*Net Inflow 2019 Q4Net Inflow 2018 Q4Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro 2019 Q4Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro 2018 Q4Top OriginTop Out-of-State Origin
1Phoenix, AZ6,5095,25433.9%33.1%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
2Sacramento, CA5,6755,98844.1%42.3%San Francisco, CASeattle, WA
3Las Vegas, NV5,6603,17846.8%42.0%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
4Atlanta, GA5,3774,66927.2%26.7%New York, NYNew York, NY
5Austin, TX4,0383,02932.3%29.4%San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
6Dallas, TX3,4202,80425.6%24.0%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
7Portland, OR3,4024,08818.6%20.1%San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
8Tampa, FL2,9042,29253.3%53.1%Orlando, FLNew York, NY
9Boston, MA2,8742,45113.9%13.3%New York, NYNew York, NY
10Nashville, TN2,8642,37134.9%33.2%New York, NYNew York, NY
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2019
†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

Moving Out – U.S. Metros Losing the Most Migrants

Some of the most expensive areas in the country dominated the list of metros facing negative migration. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., were among the cities with the greatest number of people looking to move away in the fourth quarter.

“The current inventory crunch really started building in the fourth quarter, pushing home prices in the expensive coastal cities back up after a slight reprieve earlier in the year,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “As price increases begin to gain steam again in these areas, we’re predicting that migration to more affordable areas will increase, which in turn will begin to drive prices up there, as well.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Users and Their Top Destinations
RankMetro*Net Outflow 2019 Q4Net Outflow 2018 Q4Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere 2019 Q4Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere 2018 Q4Top DestinationTop Out-of-State Destination
1San Francisco, CA28,56028,97323.0%23.4%Sacramento, CASeattle, WA
2New York, NY28,50022,26337.1%35.6%Boston, MABoston, MA
3Los Angeles, CA16,27114,67916.6%16.6%San Diego, CAPhoenix, AZ
4Washington, D.C.6,3395,25811.1%10.6%Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
5Chicago, IL3,6162,47710.4%9.4%Phoenix, AZPhoenix, AZ
6Denver, CO3,0042,55823.7%23.8%Seattle, WASeattle, WA
7Hartford, CT1,3231,05769.8%75.9%Boston, MABoston, MA
8Milwaukee, WI1,03070838.5%38.6%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
9Houston, TX55845125.8%26.5%Austin, TXLos Angeles, CA
10Detroit, MI52411422.1%20.6%Grand Rapids, MIChicago, IL
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2019
†Among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

Find Your City

Below is an interactive tool showing where people are looking to move to and where people are coming from for more than 80 U.S. metros. Find your city by clicking on the drop down menu:


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Senior Data Journalist / Real Estate Analyst

Tim Ellis has been analyzing the real estate market since 2005, and worked at Redfin as a housing market analyst from 2010 through 2013 and again starting in 2018. In his free time, he runs the independently-operated Seattle-area real estate website Seattle Bubble, and produces the "Dispatches from the Multiverse" improvised comedy sci-fi podcast.

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