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

Prepared for Relocation.com by Dr. A. Nigl Market Research Consultant

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 early June, 2010 and completed on June 17, 2010. In order to obtain a statistically relevant sample, e-mail invitations - to take the survey - were sent to approximately 70,000 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.

  • The final sample size of 1,068 is of sufficient size to insure statistical relevance of the obtained results with an average error tolerance that is no greater than +/- 2.2% at the 95% confidence level and a maximum error tolerance of less than +/- 3.2%.

How Far Did You Move?

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
3000 Miles or more

This data suggests that slightly more than 1 in 3 of the consumers (38%) in this study made a short distance move (i.e., 100 miles or less) however 62% moved more than100 miles.

Moving Distance Comparisons

2010 June Survey

Less than 20 miles
20 to 100 miles
101 to 299 miles
300 to 799 miles
800 to 1499 miles
1500 to 2999 miles
3000 miles or more

2010 February Survey

There is remarkable consistency in these survey results from February and June with no statistically significant differences in various distance-moved segments from one survey to the other.

Primary Reason for Moving

Item Count Percent %
Move related to current economic factors - unspecified 245 23%
To be closer to family/friends 178 17%
Change in marital or relationship status (i.e., divorce/separation/death of spouse or significant other) 91 9%
To Live in Bigger, Better Home 82 8%
To live in an area with a lower cost of living and/or lower rent or house payment 72 7%
Retirement 61 6%
Educational purposes (e.g., to attend college, post-high school training, grad or professional school) 44 4%
First Time Home Buyer, Took Advantage of Lower Home Prices 44 4%
Lost Job, Looking for Work or Starting New Job 42 3.9%
To improve my lifestyle, live in a better neighborhood or area, lower crime 23 2%
Lost my home due to foreclosure (or home is currently in foreclosure) 12 1%
None of the Above 173 16%

Reasons for Moving Comparison

Compared to the February 2010 survey, 44% more consumers moved for financial reasons including 4% who moved because they could afford to purchase a home for the first time due to declining home prices in many areas of the country.

However, the actual number of consumers who reported moving due to Foreclosure dropped by 70% from February, 2010 to June, 2010 which is consistent with a national trend of declining foreclosures.

2010 June Survey*

Better Neighborhood
Bigger Better House
Lifestyle Change

2010 February 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 belogings myself
Yes, moved some myself but hired a professional mover for the rest
No, hired a professional mover

The segment of the total sample that moved all their household goods with a Professional Mover continues to be significantly lower (in both February and June, 2010) compared to the June 2009 survey – a year to year decline of 19%.

Primary Reason for Selecting the Professional Mover Hired for Move?

The price and availability
An online resource / list of providers
Moving reviews or customer reports
Referral from friends or family members
Perception of quality
Familiarity: I used the mover before

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 427 40%
I was(am) a homeowner and I moved (am moving) to purchase a new home 187 18%
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 156 15%
I was (am) renting and I moved (am moving) to purchase a home 125 12%
I was (am) a homeowner and I moved (am moving) to a rental on a permanent basis 60 6%
I am neither a homeowner nor a renter, live with friends or family 113 11%

Homeowner vs Renter : Current Status


Note: 24% of all current renters are former homeowners renting temporarily while they look for a new home to purchase

Effects of Prevailing Economic Conditions

Foreclosure as Reason for Moving

June 2010 compared to February 2010 and June 2009

Where Did You Move?

Destination State and City

The Top 5 Destination States based on the geo-location of respondents in this sample are:
Texas 12% (50% increase from February 2010 results)
Florida 10% (42% increase from February 2010 results)
California 8% (20% decrease from February 2010 results)
North Carolina 5%
Georgia 4%

Based on a comparison between the February 2010 survey results and the present survey, it seems that a lower proportion of movers are now moving to California. Texas and Florida are once again the leading destination states as was found in national surveys conducted in 2009.

The Top 5 Ranking of Destination Cities (based on number of respondents) has also changed quite a bit since February with Houston replacing Atlanta as the #1 Destination City, followed by Chicago with Indianapolis in third place (Atlanta and Phoenix have both dropped out of the Top 5).

June 2010
Houston 17
Chicago 14
Indianapolis 11
Greater Los Angeles 11
Las Vegas/Portland 10
February 2010
Atlanta 11
Greater Los Angeles 11
Houston 9
Chicago 9
Phoenix 8

Destination State Comparisons Top States by %

2010 June Survey

North Carolina

2010 February Survey


California’s proportion has decreased by 2 percentage points from February while Texas has increased by 6 points.

Executive Summary

  • Compared to the results from the Winter of 2010, it seems that financial and economic issues still continue to exert an effect on U.S. moving behaviors but there are signs in the present survey results that the worst of the recession crisis may be over.

  • Whereas in the February survey almost one in five respondents (18%) indicated that they moved to a new location with a lower cost of living and/or cheaper rent; this percentage dropped to 7% in June.

  • Furthermore, only 1% of the consumers who took the survey in June indicated that they lost their home through foreclosure which is considerably lower than the 5% rate observed in the February survey.

  • And, although 13% of the consumers moved in February because of a job loss, only 4% of the consumers in June moved for that reason.

  • Another encouraging sign is that 4% of May/June movers were able to purchase a home for the first time due to the decline in home prices while another 10% moved to a bigger, better home or a better neighborhood.

  • 18% of all May/June movers are homeowners who moved and purchased a new home (up from 12% in February) while 12% were former renters who moved to purchase a home.

  • Overall, the biggest impact of the struggling economy continues to be in the lower percentage of consumers making Long Distance Moves (1,000 miles or more) compared to survey results from 2007-2008.

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