How Moving Trends Have Shifted Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nov 19, 2020

COVID-19 has greatly changed everyday life. Jobs, schools, and living situations have been impacted drastically since the start of the pandemic.

Amid the uncertainty this year, the virus has caused a major shift in moving trends. Many were unsure of how the pandemic would alter the housing market, however, real estate professionals and moving experts around the country have reported that home sales continue to be strong.

Countless people have been forced to work from home, pushing buyers to look for a new location for their home office. Others have relocated due to various circumstances surrounding the virus.

To better understand what’s really going on with real estate in America right now, I decided to look at data from the experts. Here’s what I found:

According to MYMOVE, the pandemic caused a temporary spike in moving. Many originally thought that the virus would have the opposite effect, yet millions relocated this year during the outbreak.

MYMOVE stated that, “Over 15.9 million people have moved during the coronavirus, according to USPS data.”

Not only did millions move during the pandemic, but numbers are actually up since last year! According to the outlet, “Looking at the number of movers who filed for mail forwarding from February to July 2020, requests are up 3.92% from the same time the previous year. There have been more than 15.9 million requests in 2020. In comparison, there were just over 15.3 million requests during the same period in 2019.”

Data also shows that people are moving out of big cities such as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, and San Francisco. According to USPS data, big cities lost the most movers during the first six months of the pandemic.

Not only are larger cities losing residents, but cities and counties that were once considered undesirable are growing in popularity and are finding themselves at the top of the list.

How Moving Trends Have Shifted Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

Credit: MYMOVE

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, “around one-in-five U.S. adults (22%) say they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did.”

D’Vera Cohn, the writer who published the findings from the study, asked residents who relocated during the pandemic to determine the driving factor behind their move.

“About a quarter (28%) told us [they chose to move] because they feared getting COVID-19 if they stayed where they were living,” Cohn said. “About a fifth (20%) said they wanted to be with their family, or their college campus closed (23%). A total of 18% gave financial reasons, including job loss.”

How Moving Trends Have Shifted Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

Credit: Pew Research Center

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According to a recent report, the home buying peak, year-over-year growth in home sales, buyer demand, and housing prices have all been affected by the virus.

Each year, May is typically the busiest month for homebuying activity. However, the peak was pushed back to August this year.

The report shows that homes were sold at an accelerated rate. More people moved in August than in the past, so houses were sold more quickly once on the market.

The average amount of days on the market went down in comparison to last year. According to, “Nationally, the typical home spent 56 days on the market in August, five days less than the same time last year. In larger markets, the typical home also spent seven days less on the market compared to last year.”

The listing price of houses also increased in August. The report says, “The median national home listing price grew by 10.1 percent year-over-year, to a new high of $350,000 in August. This is the first time the market has seen double-digit year-over-year listing price growth since 2017. This is an acceleration from the 8.5 percent year-over-year growth seen in July.”

“Real estate markets have undergone noticeable shifts since the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” George Ratiu, Senior Economist at told Forbes. “In the wake of the lockdowns in March, Americans discovered that existing homes were not adequate for the new work, teach, exercise, cook and live at home reality. Based on surveys of consumers, we learned that home shoppers are looking for more space, quieter neighborhoods, home offices, newer kitchens and access to the outdoors, traits which have revived a strong interest in the suburbs and smaller metro areas.”

Data pulled from Zillow shows that small cities and suburbs within an hour of major metro areas have grown. This is likely due to people working from home and not having to commute to work.

“Even the coolest markets in America right now are generally performing well and tilted in favor of sellers,” said Cheryl Young, senior economist at Zillow. “There’s a lot of demand for housing right now and homes are typically selling quickly for prices above what we were seeing last year. It’s also worth noting that the bottom performers for the most part aren’t decreasing. They’re just increasing at a lower-than-average rate. The residential market is on fire right now in most of the country, so these ‘coolest’ markets aren’t necessarily doing all that poorly.”

Now the question many are asking: did COVID-19 influence people to move? According to United Van Lines, the pandemic did influence their customers’ decision to move. The moving company noted that the influence of the pandemic also increased over time.

The moving company’s survey found that movers influenced by COVID-19 were more likely to expedite their move (64%) than movers not influenced by the pandemic (9.6%).

“As the nation’s largest mover of household goods, United Van Lines’ customer migration data distinctively signals broader national moving trends,” said United Van Lines CEO Marc Rogers. “Our data provides valuable insights into what tens of thousands of Americans are experiencing and considering when moving in 2020.”

Overall, moving trends have been greatly affected by the pandemic and could change America’s housing market forever.

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