Buyers Moving Farther Than Ever in Search of Affordability

More people are expanding their home search away from urban centers and toward smaller towns and rural areas, NAR data shows.
Father and son moving boxes in home

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House hunters have been expanding the scope of their home search over the past year, moving a median of 50 miles away from their previous property—a record distance, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The historical average is about 15 miles.

Home buyers are eyeing small towns and rural areas as they search for greater housing affordability and more space, NAR’s research suggests. “For many, remote work decisions were formalized in the last year, providing clarity for employees to permanently move to more distant areas,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights.

In the third quarter of this year, nearly 61% of views on® listings came from users located outside of the listing’s metro, a higher number than previous quarters. Faced with high home prices and rising mortgage rates, home buyers are revisiting what they can afford and where. “For buyers with flexibility, relocating to a lower-priced market could help offset higher mortgage costs,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for®. “There’s also a takeaway for sellers in these areas: On a well-priced home, you could still see strong interest from these out-of-towners.”®’s list of hottest housing markets in September include:

  • Manchester-Nashua, N.H.
  • Rochester, N.Y.
  • Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • La Crosse-Onalaska, Wis.-Minn.
  • Columbus, Ohio

The share of buyers who purchased homes in small towns (29%) and rural locations (19%) reached record highs over the past year, NAR’s research shows. On the other hand, the share of homes purchased in suburban (39%) and urban (10%) areas declined from a year ago.

Besides the potential cost savings, home buyers may be tempted to move away from urban hubs for other reasons. “Family support systems still prevailed as a motivating factor when moving and in neighborhood choice,” Lautz says.