Austin Was the Most Popular Destination for Users Who Looked to Relocate in the Fourth Quarter

Austin Was the Most Popular Destination for Users Looking to Move to a Different Metro in the Fourth Quarter

Updated on January 20th, 2021

A record 30% of users looked to move to a different metro in the fourth quarter, a 16% uptick from the same time period last year.

Nationwide, 30.3% of users looked to move to a different metro area in the fourth quarter of 2020, up from 29.2% in the third quarter and 26.2% in the fourth quarter of 2019. That’s the highest share since Redfin started tracking migration in 2017.

Migration from one metro area to another was on the rise throughout 2020, largely due to the pandemic-driven prevalence of remote work, which enabled many homebuyers to prioritize affordability and space over living close to the office. 

The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than 2 million users who searched for homes across 87 metro areas in the fourth quarter, excluding searches unlikely to precede an actual relocation or home purchase. To be included in this dataset, a user must have viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area, and homes in that area must make up at least 80% of the user’s searches.

The number of people moving to affordable metros in the fourth quarter more than doubled from the year before in Texas and Florida destinations

Austin, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sacramento and Dallas had bigger net inflows of residents than any other major U.S. metros in the fourth quarter. A net inflow means more people looked to move in than leave, while a net outflow means more people looked to leave than move in. 

Homes in all five of those metros are much more affordable than homes in the most common places people are relocating from. For instance, the typical home in Austin sold for $370,000 in December, versus $1.35 million in San Francisco, the top origin of people moving to the Texas capitol. 

Relatively inexpensive inland areas are typically the most popular destinations for users relocating to a new area. But many more out-of-town homebuyers looked to move to those destinations in the fourth quarter than the year before. Net inflow significantly increased from last year in all of the top 10 destinations, and it more than doubled in Cape Coral, FL (168% increase in net inflow from last year), Miami (+150%), Austin (+148%) and Dallas (+133%).  

“We’re seeing a lot of buyers from California, Washington and New York, and the out-of-towners are driving up prices,” said Miami Redfin agent Cecilia Cordova. “Relatively low home prices and Florida’s low taxes make the Miami area attractive, particularly for buyers of high-end and second homes. The pandemic has made it even more popular, due both to remote work and the fact that more businesses are open in Florida and there are fewer COVID restrictions than many East Coast and West Coast states.”

The share of home searches accounted for by out-of-towners also increased from last year in nine of the 10 most popular destinations (Atlanta is the exception). 

In Austin, nearly 43% of home searches in the fourth quarter were from out of town, up from 32.5% a year earlier. And this is the first time that Austin has topped the list of most popular destinations since we started tracking migration. Phoenix was the most popular destination in the second quarter, and Sacramento was the most popular in the third quarter. Austin has experienced an influx of homebuyers from out of town since the pandemic began, especially remote workers from coastal areas who are attracted to the affordability, walkability and charm of the city.

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

RankMetro*Net Inflow (Q4 2020)†Net Inflow (Q4 2019)% Increase in Net Inflow (Q4 2019 to Q4 2020)Portion of Searches from Users Outside the MetroPortion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro Last YearTop OriginTop Out-of-State Origin

1Austin, TX10,2684,135148%42.8%32.5%San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
2Las Vegas, NV9,4675,66567%52.0%46.8%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
3Phoenix, AZ9,4146,49445%36.4%33.9%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
4Sacramento, CA9,2835,72462%49.3%44.1%San Francisco, CAReno, NV
5Dallas, TX8,0173,438133%32.6%25.6%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
6Atlanta, GA7,7535,42943%26.7%27.2%New York, NYNew York, NY
7Nashville, TN5,5142,90390%40.8%35.0%New York, NYNew York, NY
8Tampa, FL4,9332,93768%56.8%53.3%Orlando, FLNew York, NY
9Cape Coral, FL4,2411,842168%75.8%74.0%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
10Miami, FL4,2041,682150%27.4%24.6%New York, NYNew York, NY
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2020
†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles lost over 40% more residents at the end of 2020 than the same period the year before

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago topped the list of metros users were looking to leave in the fourth quarter. 

Although those are typically the top places people move away from, the number of users looking to leave has increased significantly from last year in all five metros.

“A lot of my clients are selling their homes and leaving Los Angeles,” said local Redfin agent Lindsay Katz. “Remote work is causing people to reevaluate their options. One of my clients started working from home when the pandemic started, and she sold her house in Los Angeles for roughly $950,000 and bought one in Florida for around $500,000. She and her partner figured, ‘Why not? If we can get close to a million dollars for this house and still live by the beach, we’re out of here.’”

The portion of users in New York looking to move away has declined since last year, but that’s likely because a lot of New Yorkers searching for homes elsewhere have already left the metro, so their search origins reflect their current location.

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

RankMetro*Net Outflow (Q4 2020)†Net Outflow (Q4 2019)Portion of Local Users Searching ElsewherePortion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere Last YearTop DestinationTop Out-of-State Destination
1New York, NY43,76528,60635.4%37.1%Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
2San Francisco, CA41,74128,65725.1%23.0%Sacramento, CASeattle, WA
3Los Angeles, CA24,13916,46518.1%16.7%San Diego, CALas Vegas, NV
4Washington, DC12,4176,38713.3%11.1%Salisbury, MDSalisbury, MD
5Chicago, IL6,1633,66112.5%10.4%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
6Denver, CO5,9933,08428.8%23.8%Seattle, WASeattle, WA
7Seattle, WA3,087-1,69214.6%11.8%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
8Milwaukee, WI2,9191,02142.4%38.4%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
9San Diego, CA2,847-2,33926.0%19.1%Los Angeles, CAPhoenix, AZ
10Indianapolis, IN1,74848339.5%31.7%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2020
†Among the one million users sampled for this analysis only
Dana Anderson

Dana Anderson

As a data journalist at Redfin, Dana Anderson writes about the numbers behind real estate trends. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our Why Redfin page.

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