What do the movies Footloose, the original The Karate Kid, and The Lost Boys have in common? Apart from being signature flicks of the 1980s, their plots were set in motion because the main characters move from one city or town to another. It’s very much part of American culture, further evidenced by the popularity of mobile homes/RVs, American pop music, TV shows, and, of course, movies.
It could be families packing up for the suburbs, the kids setting off into the city for college, couples moving in together, or retirees settling far down in the balmy West Coast: moving in movies is a trope that’s inspired by America’s real-life tendency to relocate. And the reality is helping large American cities experience remarkable growth.
The Prevalence of Domestic Migration
The U.S. has one the highest rates of geographical mobility in the world, according to a study. The report shows that 24% of American adults relocated within the country in the last five years — on par with Finland at 23%, and Norway at 22%, but much higher than the rest of Europe. This relocation data isn’t even limited to long-distance trips, as the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American transfers homes within the country 11 times in his or her lifetime, compared to citizens in a number of European countries who only average up to four times.
Another report by the U.S. Census Bureau observed how relocation swelled the population of several large cities in America, most notably in the Southern states. Austin, Texas saw the biggest population growth between 2015 and 2017 at 7.8%. Relocation to Austin is not limited to within Texas, however, as even people from the West coast like Los Angeles are flocking to the Austin area, contributing to the Texan city’s job and housing market boom.
Further down south, Jacksonville, Florida also saw a 5% population increase in the past two years, thanks to migrants from the Miami and Orlando areas. Real estate websites offered interesting data as well, reporting that online real estate interest in Jacksonville originates from New York and New Jersey-based web browsers. Las Vegas, meanwhile, also had its population increase by 5.2% in recent years, with 16.3% of those migrants coming from Los Angeles alone.
What Prompts American Wanderlust?
Given these statistics, what drives people to pack up and move from one city or state to another? The search for better housing options take the top spot in a post by livability.com, with four others being for family reasons, housing reasons (apart from getting married, etc.), establishing a household, and new job opportunities.
It’s incredibly interesting to pick apart this data, especially when factors like income levels, civil status, and climate enters the conversation. For example, movers that work in high-income jobs like business and finance are more likely to move compared to those who work in the service or sales industries. Climate, on the other hand, is an important aspect of the destination choice but is by no means a deal-breaker for most.
There are still myriad reasons why Americans are a consistently mobile population, given the equally varied sights, sounds, and opportunities available across the country. Supplementing this phenomenon is the moving industry, and starting a moving company will prove to be lucrative as a result of increased residential and corporate relocation rates in the last few years. This strong “moving culture” in the U.S. is remarkable in helping multiple industries grow and American cities fulfill their economic potential.