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Rethinking Where "Home" Is

One of my favorite publications is The Economist - and a recent article they published summarized the last couple of years really well. Highlighted below are some excerpts and a link to the full article.

  • Today’s great migration is similar to the wave of Americans moving to suburbs after World War II

  • …unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. The closest comparison is the suburbanization we saw in the 1950’s”.

-Chris Porter, John Burns Real Estate Consulting

  • People are moving out of high cost major metros to mid-size cities and communities that are close to these large metros (1-2 hour drive allowing work from home combined with in-office time a couple days a week)

  • Suburbs are “urbanizing” — gaining big city amenities while keeping their characteristic charm and sprawl

  • Low tax states, Texas, Florida and Arizona saw the biggest migration, with Texas as the clear winner at 46% of all migration moving to the lone star state.

  • If the dispersion of Americans means more places will thrive, that is a good thing.

“If I had to choose between an America where there were two or three wealthy cities or two or three hundred, I’d choose two or three hundred,” says Glenn Kelman, the boss of Redfin, a property brokerage.

In 2005-2017 a whopping 90% of employment growth in the “innovation” sector was concentrated in just five coastal metro areas: Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.

Innovation in the coming decades will probably be more widely distributed.

According to the 2020 Census, the South now has ten of the country’s 15 fastest-growing cities with a population of 50,000 or more.

  • Some 62% of Americans now live in the West and the South, compared with 48% in 1970. The share residing in the Midwest and Northeast has fallen from 52% to 38% over the past 50 years. The impact of these shifts will cascade: congressional seats, federal funding and electoral-college vote share all apportioned to states based on population size.

Zillow had some great stats from their own company:

  • From March 2020 until February 2021, 35% of Zillow’s employees moved houses—with around three-quarters of them staying in the same metro area.

  • Around 21% of movers went at least 50 miles from their previous home, triple the share who did so in 2018.

  • Their destinations were zip codes with home values around 9% less expensive on average, compared with 0.5% less in 2018.

Whatever happens, America as a whole is never stagnant.

Towns, cities and suburbs will be transformed by their new inhabitants. The richness, eclectic diversity and creativity of cities will come to smaller places. Nativist attitudes and stereotyping are harder to maintain about your neighbors.

“The dispersing of millennials, minorities and immigrants means the country will have more in common than it did before,” predicts Mr Kotkin of Chapman University.

That would be something to celebrate.

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