To Move or Not to Move

Jan 13, 2017

by David Levine, President/CEO

That is often the question faced by upwardly mobile households looking for better life opportunities.  Such opportunities can include higher-paying employment, easier work commutes, better schools for their children, or even more floorspace for their housing.

Many households move for other reasons — often just to maintain the status quo in their lives.  For example, for households priced out of housing in costly urban core areas in the country, the move to suburban and regional centers is often done to seek out affordable housing.

In this report published by Trulia, the majority of households making this move are earning less than $30,000 a year on average. In analyzing 2014-15 US Census data, the authors find that these low-income households are more likely to make an “out-migration” move from the urban centers.

For example, in the Washington, DC urban core area, low-income households (below $30,000 a year on average) make up 10.1 percent of its population, but 18 percent of all low-income households made the “out-migration” move out of DC — or nearly twice their share of the population.

In contrast, in the Washington, DC urban core area, high-income households (above $150,000 a year on average) make up 27.3 percent of its population, but only 14 percent of all high-income households made the “out-migration” move out of DC — or at half their share of the population.

For low-income households, the “out-migration” move feels more obligatory.  There is not much choice.  These low-income households move so that they never have to fall into homelessness.