Americans have widened their house hunt, moving further and further from their original homes.
The median distance that buyers traveled to their new home was 50 miles in 2022, according to data published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That’s more than triple the median distance moved in the last 30 years, which ranged from 10 to 15 miles.
“People moved to favorable weather, taxes, more space, affordability, [and a] good job market,” Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist, said during a real estate summit. “We actually saw that people moved a much longer distance than we have seen historically.”
And for younger baby boomers who are leading the charge on these longer-distance moves, the reason is much more personal.
“Grandbabies,” Lautz said. “They’re chasing that grandbaby multiple states away, just to be down the street.”
‘Stretch their housing dollars further’
Movers are searching for homes in different parts of the country as they seek out new cities to call home.
In a separate report from Realtor.com, 60.3% of house shoppers searched for listings outside of their metro areas in the second quarter of this year. That’s up 0.7% versus last quarter and 4.1% higher year over year.
“Housing affordability isn’t likely to improve anytime soon,” Jiayi Xu, an economist at Realtor.com, said in a press release. “So, it’s not surprising to see that Americans are on the move and increasingly searching for homes in more affordable areas of the country where they can stretch their housing dollars further.”
In fact, the NAR report found that one-quarter of buyers traveled over 470 miles to find their new home.
Where people live also was a predictor of where they wanted to go next.
For instance, Chicago was the top out-of-state home search destination for residents of San Francisco, due to relatively affordable homes and similar tech industry infrastructure, according to Realtor.com. Dallas was the most popular out-of-state search for Chicago residents because of similar job opportunities in tech and warmer weather. And New Yorker City’s metro pair was Miami, for affordability.
“Remote work does not tie a worker to a given location,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun told Yahoo Finance by email. “And hence, the increased trend of remote work flexibility will permit for a longer-distance move.”
Baby boomers ‘can move far and very far away’
One generation is trekking even longer distances than others. Young boomers, defined as those born between 1955 and 1964, recorded the longest median distance move among generations — at 90 miles — in 2022. For comparison, the median move was 60 miles for older boomers, 30 miles for Gen X, 15 miles for millennials, and 20 miles for Gen Z.
“There are a large number of baby boomers and they are retiring,” Yun told Yahoo Finance. “They can move far and very far away.”
Baby boomers also were the largest homebuying group in the market, making up 39% of all transactions between July 2021 and June 2022, according to NAR’s data. Millennial buyers made up 28%, followed by Gen X at 24%, with Gen Z and the Silent Generation at around 4%.
Reasons that boomers are active in changing residence include adding spaces, buying a forever home, and getting a home with smart features, according to NAR.
“They are buying a house they want to live in for a long time. They also have the money,” Lautz said.
As for grandchildren? “That certainly is a factor,” she added.
Rebecca Chen is a reporter for Yahoo Finance and previously worked as an investment tax certified public accountant (CPA).