Why Do Americans Move So Much?

Americans are movers and shakers, and according to relocation statistics, the emphasis should be on “movers.”

In fact, we move to new homes, apartments, and condos much more frequently than our cohorts in other parts of the world.


Multiple surveys have found that Americans tend to move in order to improve family and personal situations, build wealth, and save money.

Of course, they’re just a few of the many reasons we’re so willing to relocate.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a number of other factors, some interesting statistics, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased domestic migration.

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Global relocation statistics

Unless you’re a statistics geek and a moving and storage guru (there aren’t many of us), you probably didn’t know that internationally, about 8% of adults move every year.

According to a 2013 Gallop study, this equates to nearly 400 million people 18 and older, not to mention the children that move with them.

This is an average based on data from countries all over the world, but the per capita domestic relocation rate in the United States is about three times higher or just under 25%.

And unfortunately, this rise in relocation traffic has coincided with a sharp increase in moving scams, which is why working with the best moving companies is imperative.

In any given year, residents of North America, Australia, and New Zealand tend to move way more than their counterparts in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.

Here’s how annual relocation numbers look by region –

  • North America – 24%
  • Australia/New Zealand – 18%
  • European Union – 9%
  • Most of developing Asia, Africa, and South America – between 5 and 15%

In addition, data from the US Census Bureau shows that the average American moves nearly a dozen times in his or her life.

By comparison, most French men and women will only move four times in their lives according to Statista.

Americans – on the move for a variety of reasons

Additional US Census data shows that about 30 million Americans moved last year.

Out of approximately 330 million people, that’s roughly 9.5% of the population.

Of these, about 85% stayed in-state, while most others moved to different states.

There are several core reasons why Americans – especially young professionals – move with such regularity.

They include –

  • Wanting newer, bigger, or all-around “better” homes – about 15%
  • Getting a new job or being transferred by an existing employer – about 12%
  • Establishing their own households (graduating from college or moving out of mom and dad’s house) – about 11%
  • Buying homes for the first time to avoid paying rent – 8%
  • Changing relationship status due to marriages, breakups, and divorces – about 7%

Respondents in multiple polls also cited these reasons –

  • Looking for a slower pace of life (more equitable work-life balance)
  • Seeking a better climate
  • Wanting better schools for their children
  • Retiring
  • Wanderlust (yeah, it’s a real thing)
  • A foreclosure or eviction
  • Being forced to relocate after a natural disaster

How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected moving

Before early 2020 most of us hadn’t even heard of COVID-19.

However, when it burst onto the scene, uncertainty and widespread fear gripped the nation.

Lockdowns and quarantines became the norm, and private businesses and public institutions began shutting down with alarming frequency.

Not surprisingly, job losses and financial hardships followed, and many folks who were hit the hardest had to relocate.

A Pew Research poll found that –

  • About 20% of American adults temporarily or permanently moved out of their homes or apartments due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 were statistically more likely to move because of the pandemic
  • Minorities and those from low-income families moved more than their more well-off coworkers, neighbors, and relatives

Across the board, most respondents (17%) cited job loss as the main reason for moving, while others (about 15%) attributed their moves to more general “financial problems.”

That said, when moves go south, run-of-the-mill financial problems can turn into epic nightmares in a heartbeat.

Thankfully, most moving disasters can be averted by –

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