As the weather cools down, so does the U.S. housing market. The housing market typically goes through seasonal fluctuations, and when the holiday season arrives, fewer people sell their homes and move.
According to a new moveBuddha analysis, in any given year, about 24.6% of movers in the nation’s largest metros choose the holiday season (January, February, November, and December) for moving. Compare that to the peak season’s annual move average of 42% (May, June, July, and August).
Most major U.S. cities see a slowdown in home sales and moving activity during the holidays and winter. So, this had us curious: Which major cities buck this trend and move the most during the holidays?
The answers weren’t much of a surprise.
New moveBuddha data shows warmer-weather cities in the West and Sunbelt, like Las Vegas, Miami, San Diego, and Orlando, tend to have the most moving activity when Santa comes to town and temperatures drop.
- Viva Las Vegas (and the holidays). Las Vegas is America’s #1 busiest MSA for movers during the holiday season. While many cities are quiet for movers during the holidays, it’s mostly business as usual in Vegas.
- Warm weather movin’. Nine of the top 10 cities that are busiest for movers during the holidays are in warm climates. The only cold-weather city to make the list was #3 New York City.
- Holiday moves in California & Florida. Six of the top 10 cities busiest for movers during the holidays are in California or Florida, including #2 Miami, #4 Orlando, #5 San Diego, and #8 Riverside.
- Milwaukee holiday slowdown. Milwaukee is the least busy city for moving among the 53 MSAs we studied. Other cities at the bottom of the rankings include Minneapolis, MN, Boston, MA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Rochester, NY.
Table of Contents:
The Top 10 Busiest U.S. Cities for Movers During the Holiday Season
When the holiday season hits, most people are too busy with Christmas caroling or spinning dreidels to sell their homes and move. But in the following 10 U.S. cities, home sales and moving activity are more robust than most are in the wintertime.
#10 Tampa, FL - Mild winters & lots of moving
3.62% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Unlike snowy cities in the north, Tampa’s mild winter weather makes it a perfect city to enjoy the holiday season without the cold. This holiday season offers many festive events, including the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park.
Tampa’s mild weather during the winter and holiday season could also be why there’s more moving activity in the MSA compared to the average U.S. city. About 25.5% of all moving activity in Tampa happens during the holiday season/winter months, which is 3.62% above the national average.
Tampa was one of the most popular cities to move to in Florida in 2022, according to a recent moveBuddha report, boasting a 2.42 in-to-out ratio. That means for every 100 people who searched for moves out of Tampa in 2022, 242 were searching for moves in. The only Florida cities more popular than Tampa in 2022 were St. Augustine, Sarasota, and Ocala.
MoveBuddha’s new data shows that many of those moves to Tampa in recent years have happened during the offseason when the weather’s mild and the city celebrates the holidays.
#9 Los Angeles, CA - Winter wonderland for movers
5.88% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Los Angeles sees more rainfall during the winter, but it’s still frequently sunny and pleasant with mild-to-warm temperatures. That makes L.A. a great place to move to and from during the winter, as you won’t have to worry about hazardous road conditions caused by snowstorms in a city like Chicago.
While moving activity and home sales slow down in most U.S. cities during winter, it’s still busy in Los Angeles.
About 26.1% of all moves in Los Angeles happen during the holiday season, which is 5.88% higher than the national average. The Los Angeles metro has struggled to retain residents in recent years, so much of this moving activity could be people moving out. Either way, the holidays are a relatively busy time for moving in L.A.
#8 Riverside, CA - Sleighbells & moving trucks
6.01% more moves during the holidays than the average city
About one hour and 45 minutes east of L.A., Riverside is another California city with lots of moving activity during the winter. Riverside’s climate is a bit harsher than Los Angeles’, and the area can see snowstorms and more cold weather, but it doesn’t stop moves into and out of the city.
Most U.S. housing markets cool down during the holidays, but the market in Riverside is much more active. About 26.1% of all moves in Riverside happen during winter, 6.01% higher than the national average.
Much of that offseason moving activity is likely people moving into Riverside. The city’s population grew by 2.3% between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2022, making it one of the rare California cities to see a population gain.
#7 Tucson, AZ - Festive Arizona holiday moves
6.53% more moves during the holidays than the average city
The average daily high temperature during the winter in Tucson is 68 degrees, making it a prime location for “snowbirds” and tourists looking to avoid cold weather. There’s also no shortage of festive activities in Tucson during the holidays, including light displays, concerts, and ballet performances.
Moving activity is also busy in Tucson during the holiday season. About 26.3% of all moves in Tucson happen during winter, 6.53% higher than the national average.
How much of the moving activity is folks moving into Tucson? Not all that much, according to recent data. According to census data, the city’s population grew at a slow rate of 0.7% between 2000 and 2002.
#6 Phoenix, AZ - Snowbirds come calling
6.58% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Like many cities on this list, Phoenix is where “snowbirds” visit in droves during winter. Some of these seniors from up north also purchase second homes. Redfin reports that Phoenix is among the top cities with second homeowners in the U.S., and the number keeps growing.
Mortgage applications for second homes in Phoenix increased by 23% from 2018 to 2021, according to Redfin data. This is a sore spot for locals because it drives up rental and housing prices in a metro area that is already getting too pricey.
Many of these second homebuyers are likely scooping up properties during the winter and holiday seasons. About 26.3% of all moves in Phoenix happen during the holiday season, nearly 6.6% higher than the national average. That’s also much higher than cities at the bottom of our rankings, like Cleveland (-4.46%).
#5 San Diego, CA - California Christmas moves
6.85% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Holiday lights, festivals, and even a surfing Santa await tourists and locals alike during the holiday season in San Diego. And like other California cities, the mild winter weather makes San Diego a city where moving activity and home sales don’t slow down as much during winter.
About 26.3% of all moves in San Diego happen during the holiday season, nearly 6.9% higher than the national average. Unfortunately, many of these moves are likely people leaving the San Deigo MSA. According to census data, San Diego’s population decreased by 0.4% between 2020 and 2022.
moveBuddha data from 2022 also shows San Deigo’s in-to-out ratio was 0.79, meaning that for every 79 people searching for moves into the city, 100 were searching for moves out.
#4 Orlando, FL - Sunny FLA holiday moves
7.15% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Orlando is another excellent Florida destination on this list for snowbirds and tourists. The temperatures range from about 70 to 84 degrees in Orlando during the winter; most years, you can wear shorts on Christmas day.
Some people traveling to Orlando during the holiday season are there to see Mickey Mouse in Disney World. But other folks in Orlando are too busy moving into or out of the metropolitan area.
About 26.4% of all moves in Orlando happen during the holiday season, nearly 7.2% higher than the national average. Most of this moving activity was likely people settling in new Orlando homes, too. According to census data, Orlando’s population grew by 2.7% between 2020 and 2022.
#3 New York, NY - Big Apple holiday moves
7.27% more moves during the holidays than the average city
New York City is the only Northeastern city to make the list, based on the strength of a robust housing market during the winter. NYC is a terrific place to visit during the holiday season, but it may be an even better place to sell a single-family home during the holiday cheer.
About 26.4% of all moving activity in NYC happens during the holiday season, nearly 7.3% higher than the national average. Many of these moves in this period might have been people fleeing New York City, as the MSA lost 2.6% of its population between 2020 and 2022.
New York City also has a high percentage of second homeowners, which could partly explain the busy home selling and moving activity during winter. An analysis by Advisor Smith revealed that NYC had the largest amount of second homeowners among all large U.S. cities. With so many second homes being sold, moving activity rarely slows down at any time of the year in NYC.
#2 Miami, FL - Holidays on South Beach
8.74% more moves during the holidays than the average city
Winter is one of the best times to visit Miami because there are typically fewer crowds and traffic, and there’s fantastic weather. The average high temperature in Miami in winter is usually in the upper 70s, and the low rarely reaches below 50 degrees. But while there may be fewer tourists, Miami still has much moving activity during the winter and holiday season.
About 26.8% of all moves in Miami happen during the winter and holiday seasons, which is 8.74% higher than the national average. Many of these moves were likely inbound. According to census data, Miami’s population grew by 1.6% between 2020 and 2022.
#1 Las Vegas, NV - Sin City holiday moves
10.86% more moves during the holidays than the average city
The Entertainment Capitol of the World throws a heck of a party on New Year’s Eve. Every NYE, the Las Vegas Strip turns into a giant block party where, from around 6 p.m. until midnight, more than 300,000 people welcome in the New Year. Some people who revel on the Strip around New Year’s Eve may also be new city residents.
Las Vegas is by far the #1 busiest American city for moves and single-family home sales during the holiday season and winter months. Vegas is already a top city to move to in the U.S. in recent years, according to recent moveBuddha data, and the moving activity doesn’t slow in the winter.
About 27.3% of all Las Vegas moves happen during the holiday season and winter months, which is nearly 10.9% above the national average. This makes Las Vegas by far the busiest American city for movers during the offseason.
Cities with the least holiday moving activity
Warm-weather cities dominated the top 10 busiest American cities for movers during the holidays. The inverse was true at the bottom of the rankings.
The least busy cities for movers were northern locales known for cold weather, snowstorms, and their fair share of White Christmases.
|% fewer holiday moves than the national average||% difference in peak season moves compared to the national average|
St. Louis, MO
|Milwaukee, WI||-10.90%|| |
All the cities in the bottom 10 are in the Northeast or the Midwest, except for Birmingham, Alabama.
Interestingly, many of these cities that see less moving activity during the winter months are busier than the national average during the peak moving season between May and August.
For example, while moving activity slows down in Boston around the holidays, 47% of all moves in Boston happen during the peak season months. That’s 11% higher than the national average.
The inverse holds true for the cities busiest during the winter months.
Las Vegas is busier than all U.S. cities for movers during the holidays, but activity isn’t nearly as busy between May and August. Only 38% of all Las Vegas moves happen during the peak season, which is 10% below the national average and much lower than Boston.
The weather could be a factor here, too. While Boston movers enjoy a relatively mild spring and summer, the summer heat can be oppressive in cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix and affect the peak moving season.
There’s a reason why the peak moving season in the U.S. is during the summer. Most people have greater flexibility in the summer, which makes moving, selling, and buying homes easier. But the warmer weather plays a role, too.
Snow and bad weather conditions challenge even the most experienced movers and moving companies. Nobody wants to move in the middle of a snowstorm or freezing weather.
That’s why it makes sense that cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Miami, and San Diego see the most moving activity and home sales during the winter and holiday seasons.
|Holiday/Winter Moves Share||% Higher than U.S. Avg. Holiday Moves|
Las Vegas, NV
New York, NY
San Diego, CA
Los Angeles, CA
|Tampa, FL||25.53%|| |
Many cold-weather cities like Pittsburgh, Boston, and Chicago see their housing markets and moving activity cool off as temperatures drop. But there are more moving trucks and home sales in cities where the sun keeps shining, and people wear shorts on Christmas Day.
Another key factor is the amount of people buying second homes in places like Orlando, Miami, San Diego, and Phoenix. Many of the cities in our top 10 rankings are the top second-home markets in the nation.
Moving during the holidays can be challenging because you may miss some favorite family traditions. But there’s a plus side. If you move during the week after Christmas, you’ll likely face less competition as people take off work and spend time with family and friends.
Just a word of caution: If you move to one of the cities on this top 10 list, the competition may be stiffer, and you may find that demand for moving companies is busier than in most places.
Methodology: How Did We Determine the Rankings?
- Defining holiday and peak season move months: We analyzed mover search volume collected by moveBuddha from 2021 through 2023 to determine the months with the least amount of planned moves and the months with the most moves. We found the following moves seasons were:
- Holiday move season: November, December, January, and February
- Peak move season: May, June, July, and August
- Calculating the average annual percentage of holiday and peak season moves by metro: For a more thorough analysis, we use a combination of both historical data and recent data. This includes:
- Zillow’s Sales Count Nowcast from 2009 through 2022 for U.S. metropolitan areas
- moveBuddha proprietary mover search data from 2021 through 2023 for U.S. metropolitan areas
Using Zillow data, we calculated the average percentage of holiday sales and peak season sales for each year between 2009 through 2022 by metropolitan area. Using an average across that time period for each metro, we calculated:
- the annual average percentage of holiday season sales and
- the annual average percentage of peak season sales.
Using moveBuddha’s move data, we calculated the average percentage of planned holiday moves and peak season moves for 2021, 2022, and 2023 by metropolitan area. Using an average across those years, for each metro, we calculated:
- the annual average percentage of planned holiday season moves
- the annual average percentage of planned peak season moves.
We limited the number of metropolitan areas analyzed to those with a minimum of 50 search queries for a total of 53 metropolitan areas analyzed.
Finally, we averaged the Zillow data with moveBuddha data to find the average annual percentages across all 53 metros as well as the national averages.
3. Calculating the percent difference of seasonal moves by metro:
- We found the mean of the annual average percentages across the 53 metropolitan areas for both the holiday season and the peak season.
- We then compared each MSA’s annual average percentage to the national average by finding the difference between the two for both seasons analyzed.
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