Americans leaving the nation’s big cities in search of cheaper homes
The Census Bureau measured domestic migration -people moving within the United States - and discovered that nearly every large metropolitan area had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004.
The report provides the number of people moving into and out of each state, and the 25 largest metropolitan areas. The states that lost an important part of their residents are California, New York and Illinois, while those that attracted the most new residents are Arizona, Florida and Nevada.
Many Americans are moving from large metropolitan areas to bordering counties for cheaper homes and more space. Among the 25 largest metropolitan areas, 18 had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004. Domestic moves have a great impact on the biggest metropolitan areas - New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The New York area alone had a loss of 211,000 residents during the 4 year interval.
Westerners are moving inland. North-Easterners are moving West or South. And just about everywhere, people are escaping to the outer suburbs, also known as exurbs.
William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution explains that this is “a middle class flight, a flight for housing affordability. It's not just white middle class, it's blacks and hispanics, too.”
Housing prices are soaring in the metropolitan areas, even as the population shrinks. This is because of the smaller, wealthier households that replace larger families in many big metropolitan areas and continually bid up prices. In response to that, middle class people are forced to move out to the exurbs in search of more affordable homes.
High housing costs on both coasts drove more Americans to cheaper cities nearby. One big winner is the inland Riverside, Calif., area. It continued to attract residents from the Southern California coast from 2000 to 2004, experts say. The area has total gain of 81,000 people a year from 2000 to 2004 and has become the 13th largest metropolitan area in the United States. It’s a short drive to several mountain ranges, and it’s within driving distance of the beach. Locally, it is known as the Inland Empire.
Homes in Riverside had a median price of 374,200 in 2005. That's not cheap, but it's certainly less expensive than $529,000, the median price of homes in Los Angeles. “In Riverside you’re able to obtain a very large home for a much lower price than elsewhere along the beaches and coastlines of Southern California”, says Cindy Roth, president of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce.
Other areas that attracted a lot of new residents are Phoenix, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth. They have relatively inexpensive homes, and that's the most important reason for many middle class Americans to move in such areas.