Wanting a newer, better or larger house or apartment was the most common specific reason cited for moves in 2022 and in 2021 (followed by establishing one’s own household). Despite that, the percentage of movers reporting housing unit upgrades declined.
This decline suggests reversal of a boom in housing demand that happened in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As people spent more time at home, home remodeling and improvement projects surged but movers also became more eager to move into nicer housing units. The share of movers seeking upgraded housing grew from 14.6% in 2020 to 17.2% in 2021. In 2022, that share dropped back to 14.4%, statistically the same as the 2020 pre-pandemic baseline.
The share of movers who reported wanting a better neighborhood or less crime experienced a similar decline following a surge early in the pandemic.
Those who sought neighborhood improvements accounted for 4.1% of movers in 2020, rose to 6.0% in 2021, only to drop to 4.7% in 2022 — still higher than in 2020.
A quarter of movers (26.5%) reported family-related reasons for their move — the second most often-cited general reason for moving in 2022 and in several recent years.
Family-related reasons include change in marital status and establishing one’s own household.
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. 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.
The marriage drop-off is also reflected in the share of people who cited marital status as a reason for moving: 6.1% in 2020, dropping to 4.8% in 2021, and rebounding to 6.0% in 2022. The 2020 and 2022 percentages are not statistically different.
This rebound also suggests a return to pre-pandemic behaviors.
While employment-related reasons were statistically the same as other reasons in 2022 (both were least-common general reasons), this was the first time since at least 2017 that moving for employment was not cited more often.
In addition to change in marital status, the share of movers citing two other specific reasons also grew between 2021 and 2022: other job-related reason (0.3% to 0.5%), and all other reasons (4.3% to 5.8%).