Where Homeowners Feel the Itch to Move the Most

Find out where people tend to spend just five years or less in their homes before relocating.
Young couple with dog moving into new apartment
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Many homeowners have been reluctant to move. But in some locales, they’re packing up.

Homeowners in Arizona, Nevada and Florida tend to stay the shortest amount of time in their homes—five years or less—before moving on, according to a new study from This Old House. “One potential reason is the states’ favorability for retirees, since they all lack a Social Security tax and offer generally warm year-round climates,” researchers note.

The following metro areas had the largest percentage of homeowners who lived in their homes for just five years or less, according to the study:

  • Jacksonville, N.C.: 49%
  • Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala.: 44%
  • Panama City, Fla.: 43.5%

Overall, 68% of homeowners surveyed say they have no plans to move, citing affordability, community connections and family as reasons to stay put. But more than a quarter of respondents say they’re feeling an itch to move, and an additional 6% say they plan to make a move soon.

Homeowners weighing a move expect to profit generously from their current homes. It may even be the reason they want to sell. These owners have lofty real estate expectations: They project a 53% return on their investment when they sell, the survey shows. (A 2023 study from the National Association of REALTORS® shows a breakdown of wealth gains by income group over the last five, seven, 10 and 15 years.)

In places with the highest homeowner tenure in the nation, 40% or more of residents have stayed in their homes for 24 years or more, the study shows. Those places include:

  • Johnstown, Pa.
  • Weirton-Steubenville, W. Va.-Ohio
  • Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
  • Wheeling, W.V.
  • Pittsfield, Mass.

Still, circumstances can make even the most reluctant homeowners want to move. Survey respondents who say they have no plans to move concede that they would reconsider for the following reasons:

  • Finances: 43%
  • High cost of living: 34%
  • Lifestyle change: 29%
  • Job relocation: 29%
  • Upsizing or downsizing: 26%

Broken down by age group, millennial homeowners are the most likely to think about relocating due to job opportunities (38%). Gen Z cites a high cost of living as the top reason for making them want to move in the future (50%). Baby boomers are primarily motivated to move for retirement reasons or to be closer to family (36%). Gen Xers appear more politically driven to move: 17% say they’re dissatisfied with local governance and 13% dislike their area’s political climate. As for homeowners who say they already plan to move or are considering it, they cite the following as the top reasons:

  • Lifestyle change: 37%
  • High cost of living: 27%
  • Upsizing or downsizing: 26%
  • Climate: 24%
  • Finances: 23%