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U.S. Consumer Moving/Relocation: Attitudes and Behaviors February 2010

Prepared for Relocation.com by Dr. A. Nigl

Survey Sample and Statistics

Survey Sample

  • Relocation.com authorized a series of periodic consumer surveys -beginning in March 2009- to provide ongoing market intelligence regarding U.S. Consumer Moving and Relocation attitudes and behaviors.

  • A primary purpose for these surveys is to identify and track important trends in moving behavior as well as identify emerging societal and economic issues affecting consumers’ decisions to move and relocate.

  • The current survey was launched in mid-February, 2010 and completed on February 22, 2010. In order to obtain a statistically relevant sample, e-mail invitations - to take the survey - were sent to approximately 20,000 Relocation subscribers (i.e., consumers who signed up to receive more information from Relocation.com)

  • This survey was focused on identifying current reasons for moving as well as assessing the impact of the U.S. economic recession on consumers’ decisions to move. The average time to complete survey was less than five minutes.

  • A total of 998 consumers clicked on the survey link and 74% (742) completed the survey.

  • The final sample size of 742 is of sufficient size to insure statistical relevance of the obtained results with an average error tolerance that is no greater than +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level and a maximum error tolerance of less than +/- 4%.

  • More than two-thirds of all respondents (69%) were 35 years old or older with 23% over the age of 54.

Respondent Age

18 - 24
25 - 34
35 - 44
45 - 54
55 - 64
65 - older

How Far Did You Move?

Moved within same city
(less than 20 miles)
Between 20 and 100 miles
Between 100 and 299 miles
Between 300 and 799 miles
between 800 and 1499 miles
Between 1500 and 2999 miles

This data suggests that almost half of these consumers (44%) made a relatively short distance move (i.e., within the same city or same state) with only 56% moving 100 miles or more.

Moving Distance Comparisons

2010 February Survey

100 miles or less
100 to 499 miles
500 to 999 miles
1000 to 1999 miles
over 2000 miles
Ranges estimated from actual survey data for comparison purposes

2009 March Survey

100 miles or less
100 to 499 miles
500 to 999 miles
1000 to 1999 miles
over 2000 miles

Primary Reason for Moving

Item Count Percent %
Move related to current economic factors - unspecified 132 18%
To Live in Bigger, Better Home 102 14%
To be closer to family/friends 95 13%
Lost my job, looking for work or starting a new job 96 13%
Change in marital or relationship status (i.e., divorce/separation/death of spouse or significant other) 63 9%
To live in an area with a lower cost of living and/or lower rent or house payment 48 7%
Lost my home due to foreclosure (or home is currently in foreclosure) 37 5%
To improve my lifestyle, live in a better neighborhood or area 28 4%
Educational purposes (e.g., to attend college, post-high school training, grad or professional school) 17 2%
Retirement 19 2%
None of the above 96 13%
Total Number of Participants 742

Reasons for Moving Comparison

Compared to the Mover respondents in March 2009, the current respondents seem to be moving less for family reasons and also fewer are moving for career reasons. The percentage moving for economic or financial reasons (positive or negative) is quite consistent from year to year.

2010 February Web Survey*

Better neighborhood
Bigger, better house
Lifestyle change

2009 March Web Survey

Better neighborhood
Bigger, better house
Lifestyle change
Percents will not sum to 100 due to “Other” category response (21%) not shown in graph

How Did You Move?

Did You Move Yourself?

Yes, moved all my belongings myself
Yes, moved some myself but hired a professional for the rest
No, hired a professional mover

The segment of the total sample that moved all their household goods with a Professional Mover has decreased19% (from 31% to 25%) from the June 2009 survey (this question was not asked in the March survey)

Homeowner or Renter Status

Homeowner or Renter?

Item Count Percent %
I was (am) renting and I moved (am moving) to a new rental in a new community 304 41%
I was (am) renting and I moved (am moving) to purchase a home 108 15%
I was (am) a homeowner and I moved (am moving) to a rental on a temporary basis until I find a new home to purchase 99 13%
I was(am) a homeowner and I moved (am moving) to purchase a new home 88 12%
I was (am) a homeowner and I moved (am moving) to a rental on a permanent basis 53 7%
I am neither a homeowner nor a renter, live with friends or family 88 12%
Total Number of Participants 742

Homeowner vs Renter : Current Status

Number of Participants 742


Note: 22% of all current renters are former homeowners renting temporarily while they look for a new home to purchase

Effects of Prevailing Economic Conditions

Did Economic Conditions Influence Your Decision to Move?

Response % of Sample (n = 742)
No, little or no influence 54%
Yes, moved to area with lower cost of living and/or lower rent 18%
Yes, lost my job and moved to find work 13%
Yes, moved to purchase home due to lower home prices 10%
Yes, moved because I lost my home thru foreclosure 5%

The percent of sample that moved due to foreclosure has increased 150% since the June 2009 survey (question not asked in March 2009)

Foreclosure as Reason for Moving

June 2009 compared to February 2010

June 2009 Foreclosure Precent
February 2010 ForeClosure Percent

Where Did You Move?

Destination State and City

The Top Destination States based on the geo-location of respondents in this sample are:
Florida 12.8%
California 11.6%
Texas 8.9%
Georgia 5.3%
Arizona 3.8%
Colorado 3.6%
North Carolina 3.6%

Based on the difference between the March 2009 survey results and the present survey, it seems that a lower proportion of movers are moving to Florida and Texas and California (despite the state’s well publicized financial difficulties) is again the leading destination state as it was in earlier national surveys conducted in 2007 and 2008.

Perhaps, the high rate of foreclosures in Florida is a factor in this decrease

The Top 5 Destination Cities based on overall frequency of geo-location of respondent:
Atlanta 11
Greater Los Angeles 11
Houston 9
Chicago 9
Phoenix 8

Destination State Comparisons Top 5 States by %

2010 February Survey

North Carolina

2009 March Survey

Florida’s proportion as a Destination State has decreased over 80% in one year while California’s proportion has increased slightly.

Executive Summary

  • Based on these results, it appears that the economic recession continues to have a moderately strong effect on U.S. moving and relocation behaviors.

  • Almost one in five respondents (18%) indicated that they moved to a new location with a lower cost of living and/or cheaper rent.

  • Furthermore, 5% of the consumers who took the survey indicated that they lost their home through foreclosure (an increase of 150% from the June 2009 survey) while 13% reported that they lost their job.

  • However, the economic crisis is obviously not affecting everyone who moves currently--- 54% of the sample indicated that the recession was not a factor in their decision to move.

  • In fact, 10% of this sample of moving consumers moved because home prices had dropped enough for them to afford a home in a desirable area.

  • The struggling U.S. economy may also be responsible for a lower proportion of consumers making long distance moves (100 miles or more) now than in the past; almost half the sample moved within the same city or same state and the proportion moving 1000 miles or more is much less than in past surveys (31% vs. 70%).

  • Finally, the percentage of consumers who relied solely on a professional moving company to move their household goods is the lowest it has been in three years of national surveys and this finding also can be attributed to the economic recession.

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