So, with all this attention to homebuyers leaving the big cities and moving to small towns and idyllic vacation locations to work from home there, it could be easy to overlook one reality that's not so easy to look at: how many are moving for financial reasons.
As the pandemic has worn on, the number of people citing finances for changing addresses has gone up, while the number citing coronavirus risk as their reason has gone down, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.
Of course, we're not talking about a huge proportion of the American people, but Pew said the share of U.S. adults who had moved during the pandemic grew from 3% in a June 2020 survey to 5% in a November follow-up.
So, take our population of about 330 million and the assumption that about 75% of them are adults, and that means nearly 12.4 million have moved since COVID-19 struck.
That's a lot of disruption, for better or worse.
First it was risk, then recession, that prompted the most moves
In June, 28% of the respondents said they moved for risk reasons and 18% cited financial reasons. In November, that had flipped: 33% said money (or lack of it) made them move, while 14% said it was for COVID-19 safety reasons. Job loss was cited by 17% of those respondents in the later survey, essentially the same as the 18% who said that was the problem in June.
Young adults -- ages 18 to 29 -- were the most likely to have moved during the pandemic at 11%, the researchers also found in November.
The survey also found that low-income households were the most likely to have moved, and Black and Hispanic adults were twice as likely to have moved than white adults.
Family members, vacation homes are moving destinations
Wanting to be near family or a partner was the other major impetus for moving, cited by 20% in June and 17% in November.
In June, 61% of those who said they moved because of the pandemic said they had moved to the home of a family member. That fell to 42% in November as many of the pandemic movers either rented a new home on "a short-term basis" (14%) or bought or rented one "on a long-term basis" (16%).
Meanwhile, about 10% of those who moved because of the pandemic said they relocated to a vacation home (10%) or friend's home (8%), according to the November survey.
The Millionacres bottom line
COVID-19 has killed more than a half-million people in the United States, and we're still in the early stages of a massive vaccine rollout that hopefully will bring about some semblance of normalcy in the months ahead after more than a year of unprecedented disruption. But that very much remains to be seen.
Moving itself is a big disruption. This report says about a third of moves during the pandemic were for financial reasons. Investors can't just assume there's a flood of well-heeled folks endlessly heading out of the cities into the waiting arms of high-dollar homes in the 'burbs and beyond.
While this kind of high-line information may not inform your investment strategies at the moment, it does provide some understanding of the market we're in and where it might be heading. And that, too, can lead to opportunistic moves into areas such as affordable housing, in all its iterations.