Homebuyers Are Relocating at a Lower Rate Than the Start of the Year

Interest in Relocation Dips Slightly, With 30% of House Hunters Looking to Move to a Different Metro Area


That’s down from a peak of 32% at the start of the year, but higher than the 26% level we saw early in the pandemic. Worker turnover is one reason Americans continue to move at an elevated rate.

Nationwide, 30.1% of Redfin.com users looked to move to a different metropolitan area in July and August, down slightly from 31.1% in the second quarter but up from 28.7% during the same two-month period in 2020.

Last month, we published a preliminary look at third-quarter migration patterns, which showed that 29.8% of Redfin.com home searchers were looking to move to another metro in July. This report includes data from both July and August.

The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of about 2.7 million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 120 metro areas in July and August, excluding searches unlikely to precede an actual relocation or home purchase. To be included in this dataset, a Redfin.com user must have viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area, and homes in that area must have made up at least 80% of the user’s searches.

The onset of the pandemic triggered a relocation boom among Americans, who took advantage of remote work and record-low mortgage rates. Scores of families left major cities in search of affordability and space. But while house hunters continue to relocate at a higher rate than they did early in the pandemic, migration has cooled this summer as life in the U.S. has returned, at least somewhat, to normal; cities are no longer under stay-at-home orders, businesses have reopened and kids are back in school.

The slight dip in migration has coincided with a slowdown in the broader housing market: Homebuyer competition, home-sales growth and interest in second homes, for example, are all on the decline. It’s worth noting that the housing market typically slows at this time of year.

“We’re not seeing the level of movement we saw at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, but a lot of people are still looking to move to new cities,” said Redfin Lead Economist Taylor Marr. “Worker turnover is one reason interest in relocating remains high. Scores of Americans are quitting their jobs in search of better salaries, benefits and flexibility. Once they find their next gig, people are often able to move for affordability or a better lifestyle.”

About 64% workers said they were looking for a new job as of the start of August, up from 36% in May, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Miami and Sacramento Are the Top Destinations for House Hunters Looking to Relocate

Miami, Sacramento, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tampa were the most popular migration destinations of any major U.S. metros in July and August, meaning they had the largest net inflows. A net inflow is a measure of how many more Redfin.com home searchers looked to move into a metro than leave. 

Metros that are more affordable than major coastal cities like San Francisco and New York, and feature warmer weather, frequently make the list of top migration destinations. They’ve become even more popular during the pandemic because homebuyers who work remotely have had the freedom to prioritize affordability and space over proximity to the office.

“The influx of homebuyers into Las Vegas eased a little in August, but appears to have picked back up in September,” said local Redfin real estate agent Cheryl Van Elsis. “August seems to be a little slow every year because it’s so scorching hot here. People are also heading out on vacation and families are preparing to send their kids back to school.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Users and Their Top Origins

RankMetro*Net Inflow, July-August 2021Net Inflow, July-August 2020Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro, July-August 2021Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro, July-August 2020Top OriginTop Out-of-State Origin
1Miami, FL10,4533,40033.1%26.0%New York, NYNew York, NY
2Sacramento, CA8,41910,66442.2%50.4%San Francisco, CAReno, NV
3Phoenix, AZ8,3367,00635.3%34.4%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
4Las Vegas, NV6,6866,87241.8%48.6%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
5Tampa, FL6,2544,09546.9%55.2%Orlando, FLWashington, DC
6San Antonio, TX4,4022,60842.0%42.7%Houston, TXLos Angeles, CA
7Cape Coral, FL4,2452,76369.6%75.6%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
8Atlanta, GA4,0666,03619.9%25.8%New York, NYNew York, NY
9Austin, TX3,9906,99429.6%37.8%San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
10North Port, FL3,9782,19567.7%77.4%Chicago, ILChicago, IL

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in July and August 2021

†Among the 2.7 million users sampled for this analysis only

San Francisco and Los Angeles Are the Top Places Homebuyers Are Leaving Behind

San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C. and Boston saw more Redfin.com users aim to leave than any other metro areas in July and August, meaning they had the biggest net outflows. A net outflow is a measure of how many more Redfin.com home searchers looked to leave a metro than move in. 

Dense, pricey cities typically see the most residents depart—a trend that has intensified during the pandemic as remote work has given more people the flexibility to leave expensive job centers for relatively affordable areas. 

That said, four of the 10 top metros that people are leaving—New York, Chicago, Denver and Seattle—actually saw fewer people exit than a year earlier. For example, New York saw a net outflow of 25,534 Redfin.com users in July and August, down from a net outflow of 40,049 during the same period in 2020. 

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Users and Their Top Destinations

RankMetro*Net Outflow, July-August 2021Net Outflow, July-August 2020Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere, July-August 2021Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere, July-August 2020Top DestinationTop Out-of-State Destination
1San Francisco, CA52,75636,48125.2%24.2%Sacramento, CASeattle, WA
2Los Angeles, CA30,74419,01918.1%16.9%San Diego, CAPhoenix, AZ
3New York, NY25,53440,04927.3%35.3%Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
4Washington, DC16,38312,51815.1%13.6%Salisbury, MDSalisbury, MD
5Boston, MA9,176-16216.8%12.1%Portland, MEPortland, ME
6Chicago, IL5,1275,53512.2%11.9%South Bend, INSouth Bend, IN
7Denver, CO4,6985,33727.1%26.9%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
8Seattle, WA3,7164,82914.5%14.1%Phoenix, AZPhoenix, AZ
9Detroit, MI3,31579128.2%22.1%Cleveland, OHCleveland, OH
10Albany, NY2,046-28562.8%36.4%Boston, MABoston, MA

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in July and August 2021

†Among the 2.7 million users sampled for this analysis only

‡Negative values indicate a net inflow

Lily Katz

Lily Katz

As a data journalist, Lily is passionate about helping readers understand complex facets of the housing market. She is particularly interested in the issues of climate change, race and gender equality and housing affordability. Prior to working at Redfin, Lily spent four years as a reporter at Bloomberg News in New York City.

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