Big City Exodus May Be Nearing an End

Two women loading boxes into moving truck.

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The big city is starting to look attractive again. More than a year into the pandemic, moves from dense urban cities, like New York, San Francisco, and Boston, have started to slow. These cities lost record numbers of residents in 2020 due to density concerns, closure of entertainment and lifestyle amenities, and high costs of living, according to a new study from Updater, a technology company for the relocation industry. Updater’s report reflects an analysis of 300,000 moves over the past year.

“It’s been fascinating to watch migration patterns shift away from cities and to warmer weather climates during the pandemic,” says David Greenberg, founder and CEO of Updater. “With vaccinations underway, restrictions lifting in some of our hardest-hit cities, and companies rolling out permanent hybrid working solutions, we’re anticipating a summer moving season unlike any other with a series of new atypical patterns.”

In 2020 and into the first quarter of this year, the vast majority of movers had fled densely populated, high-priced areas for more expansive, warmer, and more affordable southern and western states, the Updater study notes.

List of metro areas with the greatest percentage of inbound migration.
List of inbound vs. outbound moves by state in the first quarter of 2021.