Fewer Americans are moving. Why?

Raghu Manavalan Oct 10, 2014
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Fewer Americans are moving. Why?

Raghu Manavalan Oct 10, 2014

Whether it’s because jobs are scarce, or homes are expensive, fewer Americans are moving now than 60 years ago, according to data from the U.S. Census.

We want to know: Why did you pick the city you live in now? 

Family? Friends? Great museums? Money? The love of your life? The former love of your life?

We want to hear your stories, so tell us! Send us a message on Twitter – we’re @MarketplaceWKND – or by email.

Here are a few stories from our listeners: 

Allison from Columbus, Ohio:

“I am an east coast native and I was a reporter at a small-ish newspaper south of Boston, where I grew up. I wanted to get a bigger and better job, so I had applied all over the place and this was the job in the city that called me back. Never had been to Columbus before never had thought about Ohio, had no sense of what it was, but thought I’d spend a couple of years here and four years later I’m still here.

Don in Jacksonville, Florida:

“Well, I’m living in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s actually the city I was born in, the city my mom was born in. She came back, she went to college and came back when I was born here after she got married. My wife and I sold our house and had a house built here in Jacksonville so that mom could live with us since she’s not able to live independently.”

“In some ways, [Allison and Don’s stories] reflect what has been an ongoing tug of war between mobility and stability,” says Nicolas Retsinas, professor of real estate at Harvard Business School. “Over the years this country has always been noted as a country of high mobility where people are interested and able to move to other places, particularly for economic reasons. But over the last thirty years that mobility has gone down a bit.”

Why is mobility declining? Retsinas points to expensive homes and a sagging economy, but says other factors are in play as well.

“I think it probably reflects a broader societal issue that people wrestle with. Are they comfortable kind of where they are? Does it have the right kind of networks and the right kind of people and the right kind of proximity to family? Or do they have the wanderlust whether it’s Columbus or Silicon Valley or wherever they want to go. So I think it is this sort of tug of war that takes place in our country.” 

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