Cities Where Residents Are the Most And Least Mobile

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People living in Detroit and Honolulu have tied down roots in their cities, but for much different reasons

February 27, 2017

Neighborhood in Honolulu. Photo: Rachel Elaine/Creative Commons

People living in Detroit and Honolulu have tied down roots in their cities, but for much different reasons.

Realtor.com tracked the cities with the most and least migration, based on the percentage of households that had moved since 2010 (for the most mobile) and 1990 (for the least). The report counts both owner and rental households.

In Detroit, 21.4 percent of residents moved into their homes before 1990, the highest share in the nation. Many homeowners, though, are stuck: one in five Detroit homes is seriously underwater, and poor residents cannot afford moving costs. Cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio, are in similar situations.

Owners are also stuck in Honolulu, where 20.3 percent of residents moved in before 1990. Rising home values (the median list price is $730,000) present an opportunity for owners to profit but make it difficult to find another home. The city has low property taxes and is located in Hawaii, a state with fantastic weather and scenery. San Francisco, New York City, and Philadelphia are also among the cities with the least migration.

Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, Durham, N.C., and Madison, Wis., are among the cities with the highest percentage of residents that moved into their homes after 2010. All have shares above 40 percent. Orlando, Fla., led the list with 56.3 percent. The metro added more than 50,000 jobs in December and features a fast-growing healthcare sector.

All this economic prosperity means that more people are moving here—and those already established may now have the means to upgrade their living situation. “Economic development is usually glacial, but it’s been like a volcano erupting in Orlando. The development happened very rapidly,” says Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

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