The Cities Where Residents Are Most Eager to Leave

A quarter of people searching for homes at the end of 2018 were looking to move to a new metro area.

A quarter of people searching for homes at the end of 2018 were looking to move to a new metro area. Shutterstock


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An analysis by real-estate website examined places where more people were searching for homes elsewhere compared to people looking to move in.

San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Denver are among the top metropolitan areas where residents eyed moving to other locales, according to data from real-estate website

Those cities posted the “highest net outflows” in the website’s most recent migration report, which examines search data collected by the company. That term is “defined as the number of people looking to leave the metro minus the number of people looking to move to the metro,” says the report, which examined a sample of more than 1 million Redfin users who searched for homes in 87 metro areas from October through December. “A net outflow means there are more people looking to leave than people looking to move in.”

San Francisco notched the highest net outflow at 29,122, while 24 percent of residents there searched for homes in other metro areas, up from 19 percent last year. New York City (22,002), Los Angeles (14,647), Washington D.C. (5,527) and Denver (2,577) round out the top five. Residents in those cities were most likely to examine moving to “relatively affordable” nearby metro areas, including Boston, San Diego and Sacramento, Calif.

Denver made the biggest jump up the list from 2017, “flipping from modest net inflows and outflows throughout 2017 to solid net outflows through late 2018,” the analysis notes. “Last quarter, 24 percent of Denverites on searched for homes outside the area, up from 17 percent a year earlier.”

Popular destinations for people seeking new homes include Sacramento, Calif.; Phoenix, Atlanta, Portland and Seattle, which rejoined the “migration destination” list after dropping off briefly at the end of 2017 despite a hefty average home sale price of $630,000. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Denver, according to Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist.

“In both Seattle and Denver prices were growing rapidly in 2017 and early 2018 to the point that buyers backed off in the second half of 2018,” he said. “However, people looking to leave high-tax metros for a city with mountain views and top-notch hiking are more likely to pick Seattle over Denver because Washington State doesn’t have an income tax. In fact, the top destination for Denverites looking to leave is Seattle.”

On the whole, a quarter of people using Redfin to search for homes in that last quarter of 2018 were looking to move to a different metro area, up 2 percent from the same time period in 2017.

“The national share of home-searchers looking to relocate has been inching up slightly since Redfin began reporting on migration in early 2017 and currently sits at its highest level on record,” the report says.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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