Pandemic Prodding The Move

Pandemic Prodding The Move

This article discusses pandemic-related migration, its significance, the reasons for relocations, and destinations.

Anjali Krishnan
Anjali Krishnan

One in four (28%) has relocated or plans to move within the next twelve months due to the pandemic.  13 percent have already relocated, and another 15 percent plan to relocate within the next 12 months, a recent TIPP Poll shows.

Moving appears to be a critical strategy for adjusting to the pandemic-induced 'new normal' among Americans.

Though fear of infection was the primary motivation for relocations during the first months of the lockdown, the reasons appear to have changed over the last year.

Why It Matters?

The pandemic migration has more profound implications.  Here are a few.

  • Political Consequences. Arizona turned blue in the 2020 presidential election helped my migration from California. If the inflow persists, it will become deep blue.
  • Economic Consequences. Outflow from New York city is eroding its tax base.
  • Real estate. Certain urban areas have seen home prices fall as residents flee, while certain suburbs have seen a sharp increase due to inflow.
  • Job opportunities. The work at home concept got a boost from the pandemic. Now businesses are more open-minded to hire employees across the country.

Who Are Moving (And Not Moving)?

Youngsters made up a big chunk of those who had moved or planned to move within a year.

  • 39% in 18-24 age category
  • 43% in 25-44 age group
  • 21% in both age groups have already moved

Closing down college campuses and shifting classes online are probable factors that have resulted in a change of residence for college-age groups.

We found that most of those middle-aged and above have no plans to move. When asked if they foresaw a move within a year, both age groups said no.

  • 75% of 45-64 age group
  • 87% of age 65+

But, an accurate picture is provided by the 25-44 year old demographic. While the gaining acceptance of remote work did enable many to relocate to suburbs and less congested locales, financial stress was another primary consideration that drove many to move.

What Are The Reasons For The Move?

We presented survey respondents who moved or planned to move thirteen reasons for relocation during the pandemic and asked if any of them applied to them. According to their responses, we divided respondents into four categories.  A single respondent may have a variety of reasons and thus fall into multiple categories.

  • 47% Better quality of life
  • 45% Financial reasons
  • 39% Job-related
  • 26% Family reasons

Better Quality Of Life

With finances and space as essential factors, it is not surprising that big cities like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles lost a significant portion of their residents to the suburbs or even other states.

Those looking for a better quality of life relocated to areas with

  • Lower crime -17%
  • Better climate - 16%
  • Favorable political trends – 16%
  • Less congestion - 15%
  • Better schools - 13%

Real estate agencies foresee an increase in demand for suburban homes as virtual offices and work from home policies gain popularity and become the norm. Quality of life and living expenses will play a crucial role in where Americans choose to live if the pandemic does not ease soon.

Financial Reasons

Financial stress was why 45% of those moved or plan to move. With more than half the households, 53%, we surveyed falling under the 'job sensitive' category (one or more members looking for employment or concerned about job loss), this is hardly surprising.

Financial reasons motivated Americans to move to areas with

  • Lower cost of living 28%
  • Cheaper housing 23%
  • Lower taxes 13%

Our data reveals another underlying dynamic.  By race, nearly three-quarters of Whites said they had no plans to relocate or expected to relocate, while almost half of Hispanics said they had relocated or planned to relocate.

  • 74% Whites are not moving
  • 35% Blacks plan to or have moved
  • 49% Hispanics plan to or have moved

The pandemic resulted in many small and medium-sized businesses closing their doors, leaving many, especially the unskilled workforce, grappling with at least temporary unemployment.

This situation has forced almost four out of ten Americans to move in search of suitable employment.

  • Better job opportunities 22%
  • Closer to work 17%
  • Work from home flexibility 14%

Family Reasons

Families, young and old, have faced multiple challenges since the pandemic began. A quarter of our survey respondents, 26%, have moved out of familial considerations. There have been several accounts of families using work-from-home solutions to keep elderly relatives out of nursing homes and maintain a closed family bubble.

While most Americans didn't go far, it was enough to create an impact. According to the US postal service, there has been a surge in change-of-address requests, with a notable 27% increase in temporary address changes requests.


Our survey found that most Americans that have or plan to relocate are not going far

  • 44% Within a city
  • 26% To another city
  • 17% To a suburb
  • 13% To a rural area

While many of these relocations are likely temporary, a significant portion is expected to be permanent. The pandemic, at this rate, is expected to cause long-lasting demographic shifts in the fabric of our cities and suburbs.

TIPP Takes

China's Base In Africa Now Big Enough To Host Aircraft Carriers, AFRICOM Boss Says

  • China established its first and only overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017.
  • It is only seven miles from Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. military's operational hub in the Horn of Africa.
  • Djibouti is a small but strategically important country that sits at the southern end of the Red Sea, has long hosted various foreign militaries. France, Italy, and Japan are among the countries with small outposts there.
  • China has two aircraft carriers in service — the Liaoning, a heavily modified, unfinished ex-Russian carrier, and the Shandong, a modernized version of the Liaoning. A third carrier could be ready by 2024.
  • According to Gen. Stephen Townsend of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), Beijing wants more bases on the continent to closely link their commercial seaport investments in East, West, and Southern Africa with Chinese military forces to advance their geostrategic interests.
  • China has emerged as the dominant outside economic force in Africa. Its investments in Africa are outpacing those of the U.S. and its allies, "as they seek resources and markets to feed economic growth in China and leverage economic tools to increase their global reach and influence," Townsend said.
  • China also uses its economic heft to offer unfavorable loans to African countries, which function as debt traps that help secure Beijing’s access to key infrastructure, Townsend said.

China Says Australia's Belt And Road Snub To 'Further Damage' Relations

  • Australia on Wednesday canceled two deals struck by its state of Victoria with China on Beijing's flagship Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The Chinese embassy in Canberra warned that already tense bilateral ties were bound to worsen.
  • Under a new process in Australia, Foreign Minister Marise Payne can now review deals reached with other nations by the country's states and universities.
  • Australia's federal parliament granted the veto power over foreign deals by states in December amid the deepening diplomatic spat with China, which has imposed a series of trade sanctions on Australian exports ranging from wine to coal.
  • Some countries fear the Belt and Road scheme's lending could lead to unsustainable debt levels in developing nations, including the Pacific islands region.

Iran Giving Houthis' Significant' And 'Lethal' Support: U.S. Envoy

  • U.S. special envoy on Yemen Tim Lenderking says fighting in Marib is 'the single biggest threat to peace efforts.'
  • Lenderking told U.S. lawmakers that Iran supports the Houthis in several ways, including training, providing lethal support, and helping them "fine-tune" their drone and missile programs.
  • "We are already witnessing this through increased attacks on other front lines, a significant increase in airstrikes, and more Houthi attacks on civilians and other infrastructure in Saudi Arabia," Lenderking added.
  • Iran has denied supporting the Houthis. A spokesman for Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York dismissed Lenderking's remarks as unsubstantiated claims.
  • The U.N. humanitarian office says the war has caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.

U.S. Exit From Afghanistan: Leaving Local Staff At Taliban's Mercy

  • NATO's in-country employees tell D.W. the Taliban could target them after foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan. Militants consider the alliance's Afghan employees "traitors" for working for occupying forces.
  • According to a former NATO employee, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State (I.S.) regard the alliance's Afghan employees as enemies.
  • Many NATO member states say they are trying to help their employees in Afghanistan by potentially offering them asylum in the countries whose forces employed them.
  • Germany's Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the media that Germany would be willing to take in Afghan nationals who helped.


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