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Looking Behind the Numbers at Why Americans Move

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

Do you ever think about the homes from your past? I do, quite frequently. Maybe because I’m a realtor, I think about all the homes I’ve lived in often. Either that or maybe I’m just an oddball.

I remember once when I asked my older sister, who moved quite frequently because of her husband’s job, whether she ever thought about the homes she’s owned formerly.

“I live in the present,” she proclaimed. “I’m always happy where I am and never think about my old homes, either fondly or with regret.”

I thought she was devoid of sentiment, but then maybe she’s smarter than I.

I definitely think about my former homes. After having reached a certain maturity, I’ve had the opportunity to live in a number of them. A person in the United States is expected to move 11.4 times in a lifetime. Let’s see, by count, I’ve lived in, what do you know, exactly 11 homes, not counting a temporary summer home when my father took our family with him for a temporary work assignment.

For 2012 and 2013, the most recent statistics on moving I could find, 28 million Americans 15 and older moved, 11 percent of the population in that age group. But when you take a closer look at the statistics, you see there’s a lot more to it than age. The wealthiest individuals are the most likely to stay where they are: 7 percent of Americans with an annual income of $100,000 or more moved, compared to 13 percent of those earning $50,000 or less.

As one of the most mobile countries in the world, Americans are known for their seemingly constant relocations. Let’s look at how many times the average person moves in a lifetime.

Whether changing jobs, upsizing their homes or just looking to try a new neighborhood or city, Americans seem to always be on the move. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, again the most recent statistic available, 35.9 million people moved, including children.

According to the statistics, once the average person reaches the age of 18, they are likely to move at least another 9.1 times in their remaining lifetime compared to just 2.7 more moves once a person reaches 45 years old.

Why are they moving?

The 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the most common reason to move is related to housing (48 percent). Another 30.3 percent of moves were family related, while job relocations made up 19.4 percent. Other reasons caused 2.3 percent of moves in the United States.

In general, many people move due to a need to upsize or downsize their homes. Whether their family is growing or their children are going off to college, moving in to larger or smaller houses to accommodate such situations makes up a majority of moves in the United States.

The average American holds his or her current job for an average of 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, it’s possible that after about five years a person will land a new job in another city or state, necessitating a relocation.

Also, life changes such as marriage or retirement are major causes for relocations.  Both of these life events cause a person to move to homes more suitable for their needs.

For a variety of reasons, people may want to change their neighborhoods. Maybe they received a large increase in salary and want to relocate to a more upscale neighborhood, or maybe their child is changing schools. It’s also possible that their current neighborhood is changing either socially or economically, and so moving seems right for them. Regardless of the reason, changing neighborhoods is a common motive for American moves.

In my own case, it was a job change that yanked me out of the city – yes, I didn’t want to leave – to suburban living, which I eventually came to prefer). But once here, I stayed in the same house for over 40 years. My next move was to downsize from a 3,900-square-foot, three-level colonial to a 1,780-square-foot modern condo on one level, ready for retirement living.

I strongly doubt that there’s another move in my future, so it’s a good thing that I’m very happy where I am in a home that fits just right.

Bill Primavera, a Realtor® who writes or a writer who sells real estate, is associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester ( specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.





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