Rising sea levels played a role for about one-third of people who plan to move in the next year. Many respondents say they wouldn’t relocate to an area with climate risk even if it were more affordable.
Many Americans are factoring climate change into their decisions about where to live, according to a new Redfin survey. About half of respondents who plan to move in the next year said extreme temperatures and/or the increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters played a role in their decision to relocate. More than a third (36%) said rising sea levels were a factor.
Redfin commissioned a general-population survey of 2,000 U.S. residents from Feb. 25, 2021 to March 1, 2021 to learn how Americans are thinking about climate change. The first section of this report focuses on the 628 respondents who indicated that they plan to move in the next 12 months.
Respondents aged 35 to 44 were most likely to say that natural disasters, extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels played a role in their decision to move, followed by respondents aged 25 to 34. Respondents aged 45 or older were less likely to indicate that these risks factored into their decision to relocate.
When broken down by region, respondents in the Midwest were the least likely to say that climate-change risks were a factor in their decision to relocate. For example, 41% of respondents in the Midwest said the increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters played a role in their decision to move in the next year, compared with more than half of respondents in other regions.
“Climate change is making certain parts of the country less desirable to live in,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “As Americans leave places that are frequently on fire or at risk of going underwater, the destinations that don’t face those risks will become increasingly competitive and expensive for homebuyers.”
“After wildfires destroyed much of Napa in 2017, the community rallied together and rebuilt, but when fires ravaged our area again in 2020, some folks just decided they were done,” Anderson said. “I had one client in St. Helena whose home burned down in the last fire and only half of it was covered by the insurance company. She relocated to New York.”
Roughly 75% of Americans Would Be Hesitant to Buy a Home In an Area With Climate Risk
The previous section of this report only includes responses from participants who indicated that they plan to relocate in the next year, but we also wanted to hear from people who aren’t currently planning a move, so we asked all 2,000 participants how climate risks in a given area would affect their perspective on buying a home there.
Nearly 80% of respondents said that increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters in an area would make them hesitant to buy a home there. A slightly lower share—about three-quarters—would be hesitant to buy a home in a place with extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels.
Some Respondents Wouldn’t Move to an Area With Climate Risk Even If It Were More Affordable
About a quarter (24%) of respondents said they wouldn’t consider moving to an area with extreme temperatures, even if it were more affordable* than a comparable area without such risk. The share was slightly higher—28% and 30%, respectively—when we asked about natural disasters and rising sea levels.
It’s worth noting that virtually every part of the U.S. faces some type of climate risk, which may explain why these percentages aren’t higher.
*Respondents were given the following answer options: “0-5% more affordable”; “10% more affordable”; “20% more affordable”; “over 20% more affordable” and “there is no price at which I would consider it.” The chart above focuses on respondents who chose “there is no price at which I would consider it.”