Americans Are Moving at a Lower Rate Than Ever Before
Here’s why more people—especially millennials—are staying put.
Americans aren’t moving like they used to. In fact, they’re more likely than ever to stay in their current residence from year to year.
Between 2018 and 2019, only 9.8% of the population moved, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s the lowest rate on record—and the first time it’s has fallen below 10% since data-tracking began in 1947.
Today’s moving rate represents a significant drop from previous decades—and could reflect bigger changes in how Americans live. In the 1950s, for example, about one-fifth of the U.S. population changed residences each year. Back then, it was more common for people to relocate across the country to chase job opportunities or take advantage of low housing costs in urban areas.
Now, with rising rent prices and more job availability across the country, people are moving less and less. The percentage of movers has steadily declined since the mid-century, apart from a slight spike in the mid-'80s.
So what’s causing the decline? Although there isn’t one clear reason why Americans are staying put, several factors could be at play. An aging population might be one explanation.
Although Baby Boomers, defined as those ages 55-73, represent the largest living generation, they make up only 12% of recent homebuyers, according to a 2019 Meredith Home Buyer study. That’s because older individuals are generally less likely to move than younger people. Per the Census Bureau data, about 6% of people aged 45 to 65 moved within the past year. For those 65 and older, that rate drops to less than 4%.
Millennials, on the other hand, make up the largest share of recent home buyers at 63%, according to the Meredith study. And the moving rate for this generation, now aged 23 to 38, is much higher than Baby Boomers as well.
However, even younger people are moving less than before. Census data from 2000 to 2001, for example, show that the percentage of twenty-somethings who moved during that time period was more than 30%. Comparatively, only 20% of people in their 20s and about 11% of those aged 30 to 44 moved between 2018 and 2019.
For many of these would-be first-time home buyers, budget concerns could be interfering with their plans to move. According to the Meredith study, 63% of home buyers rank finances and cost as their biggest challenge during the purchasing process. And the costs of moving go beyond the price of your new digs. The Meredith study also revealed that the average person spends more than $29,000 (including the cost of renovations, furnishings, and appliances) during the first few years of homeownership.
So whether more Americans are finding their "forever home" or just can’t swing the expense of moving each year, they’re increasingly sticking with their current living situations.