Why Americans Move Compared to the Rest of the World

Here are Americans' relocation patterns compared to the rest of the world.
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How often do you spot moving trucks in your neighborhood? And when was the last time you, yourself, moved? Chances are, as an American, you experienced one or both of those things fairly recently.

Americans move more frequently than people in nearly any other place in the world. Today, we’re going to look at just how often Americans move, as well as why. Here are Americans’ relocation patterns compared to the rest of the world.


Percentage of Respondents Who Moved Cities/Regions in the Past Five Years | Gallop, 2013
Percentage of Respondents Who Moved Cities/Regions in the Past Five Years | Gallop, 2013

How Often do Americans Move Compared to Residents in Other Countries?

The itches of manifest destiny must continue to run deep in America, because we can’t scratch the urge to move. Globally, a 2013 Gallop study showed that 8% of the world’s adults moved within their own country over the previous five years. In America, the rate was three times that average! 

About one in four U.S. adults (24%) reported moving within the country in the past five years — similar to rates reported in other advanced economies such as New Zealand (26%), Finland (23%), and Norway (22%).

However, other advanced economies show people relocating within their own nation at much lower rates. Internal migration within the EU as a whole was only 9% in five years. And those figures are not a short-term anomaly. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves residences more than 11 times in his or her lifetime. Data across 16 European countries suggests that in that region, the figure is roughly four.


Why do Americans Move?

According to the U.S. Census bureau, 29,780,000 people in the U.S. moved from 2019–2020. That’s 9.3% of the U.S. population of 321.6 million residents. And while 85% of movers stay in state, 15% move to other states.

So, why are Americans so much more geographically mobile than residents of other countries? As it turns out, there are several core reasons why Americans, especially young professionals, move so often. More temperate climates, better housing options, and better job opportunities are all significant factors in people’s moving decisions. In short, polls indicate that Americans by and large are looking for a happier work-life balance.

Why are Americans Moving? | Data from U.S. Census Bureau, 2020
Why are Americans Moving? | Data from U.S. Census Bureau, 2020

Americans Move for Family

Whether forming or dissolving households, one in four Americans (25.5%) moved last year for family reasons.

  • 10.65% – To establish own household
  • 6.13% – Change in marital status
  • 8.72% – Other family reason

Americans Move for Work

Nearly one in five movers (19.8%) found a new home for work-related reasons. 

  • 11.41% – New job or job transfer
  • 4.92% – Proximity to work or an easier commute
  • 1.75% – Job search or lost job
  • 1.34% – Retired
  • 0.38% – Other job-related reasons

Americans Move for Better Housing

Whether up the road or across the country, almost half (40.2%) of Americans who moved last year did so for better housing options.

Other Reasons Americans Move

The data above only takes into account someone’s primary reason for moving. That means it may be likely that some of these following reasons play a larger role in Americans’ relocation than first appears. When combined with family, work, and housing reasons, this shows that Americans have quality of life top of mind before packing the moving truck.

  • 5.13% – Relationship with unmarried partner
  • 3.15% – To attend or leave college
  • 2.00% – Health reasons
  • 0.39% – Change of climate
  • 0.37% – Natural disaster
  • 3.51% – Other reasons

We can Help with Your Next Move

Are you one of the approximately 30 million Americans who will move in 2021? Moving can be an exciting and stress-free process when working with the trained professionals at Beverly-Hanks, REALTORS®. We can connect you to valuable resources that ensure a flawless relocation. We’re ready to manage your move from start to finish.

Benefit from our experience. Contact the Beverly-Hanks Relocation Department today.

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