When and Why Residents Move

I’ve moved four times since I left my hometown to attend college. Every time I sign a new lease, get all the boxes unpacked, and finally sit down in my new dwelling to recover from relocating yet again, I swear up and down that I’m not moving again until I decide to leave the state. Inevitably, two or three years later I find myself calling property managers and realty companies asking about available properties. By the time I’m pulling out the boxes and packing tape and regretting ever owning more than ten things, I wonder out loud “Why can’t I just stay put?”

Fun Fact: Residents who embrace minimalism have fewer headaches during a move.
Maybe there’s something to this minimalism trend after all.

Every time I’ve gone searching for new housing, I was prompted to do so by a life event. Losing and gaining residents is part of the business, but understanding the reasons behind resident migration patterns is important if you want to stay competitive.


People move when they are in transition

According to the Reasons for Moving: 2012-2013 report published this year by the United States Census Bureau, the life events that prompted me to look for new housing are common across all Americans. 12% of people who moved in 2012 did so in order to establish their own household. When college students leave home to study, they go in search of student housing that is convenient to campus, and will often move multiple times while completing their degrees. 7% of people moved after a change in marital status. Whether they are newlyweds merging two households, recently married partners planning for children, or a recent divorcee in search of a space of their own, changes in personal relationships often mean a move is forthcoming. Another 12% of the Census survey moved for undisclosed family reasons.

Residents move when their families grow.
Yes honey, it IS just like Christmas. Keep going, they’re all for you!

People move because of their jobs

In order to keep the rent paid, people have to live in a place with ample job opportunities. 19% of Census respondents moved for job-related reasons in 2012. Close to 10% moved to housing close to a new job or transfer. Another 5% sought out housing closer to an existing job in search of a shorter commute. Others moved after the loss of a job or to a new city with better job prospects. People who reach the end of their careers and retire often downsize or relocate to a new climate or to be closer to family.

People move in search of better housing

Approaching retirement, Alice considers leaving Wonderland and settling in Florida.
Approaching retirement, Alice considers leaving Wonderland and settling in Florida.

While life events and changes in employment are common reasons to seek new housing, the search for better housing is the most common reason residents move. Close to 50% of the surveys respondents cited housing-related reasons as the primary motivator for relocation. 15% of Americans moved in search of bigger and/or better housing. Others moved in search of cheaper housing, a reasons move often given by renters than homeowners. Some households move because they are transitioning from renting to owning, a change that often coincides with a change in marital status or family size. Just shy of 5% of people moved in search of a better neighborhood, with less crime and a good school system.

Get to know your ideal resident

Choosing housing is a very personal decision that is influenced by a multitude of factors that change throughout human life stages. Property managers and owners will be better prepared to navigate resident turnover and soliciting new tenants if they take the time to develop an idea of who their target resident is and what life stage they are likely to enter next. By identifying the changes that come with the entry into a new stage of life, you will be better able to predict your tenants needs and keep them happy in their current housing for as long as possible.

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Elizabeth Hayes

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By Elizabeth Hayes

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