People move for housing, family, jobs

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Getting married – or divorced – was a more common reason for moving in 2022 than the year before while looking for better housing became less common, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau on why people move.

The Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement asks respondents who lived in a different place the year before their primary reason for moving. The 20 specific reasons fall into four general categories: housing-related, family-related, employment-related, and other.

The most often-cited general category for moving in 2022 was housing-related reasons, which accounted for 41.6% of movers, according to the survey. That’s similar to other recent years.

A newer, larger or better place to live was the most common specific reason cited for moves in 2022 and in 2021. That was followed by establishing one’s own household. Even so, the percentage of movers reporting upgrades declined.

“This decline suggests reversal of a boom in housing demand that happened in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the report.

The share of movers seeking better housing increased from 14.6% in 2020 to 17.2% in 2021. It fell back to 14.4% in 2022, about the same as the 2020 pre-pandemic baseline. The share of movers who reported wanting a better neighborhood or less crime had a similar decline after a jump early in the pandemic, according to the report.

Some 26.5% of movers reported family-related reasons, the second most often-cited general reason for moving in 2022 and in recent years.

Family-related reasons include a change in marital status and establishing one’s own household, according to the report.

“An increase in the share of people who moved due to a change in marital status between 2021 and 2022 may be the result of people resuming plans they had put on pause during the height of the pandemic,” according to the report. “Many couples decided to postpone wedding ceremonies and large gatherings during COVID-19: an estimated 12% fewer marriages and divorces took place in 2020 than researchers expected.”

Employment-related reasons were reported 16.1% of the time, the first time since at least 2017 that moving for employment was not cited more often, according to the report.

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