The Great Migration - Moving Amid a Pandemic

The Great Migration -  Moving Amid a Pandemic

My family and I did something a little out of character recently. We decided after 20 years of living in South Florida, to put our house on the market. Unlike most Floridians, I actually am from Florida. North Florida though not South, and there is a big difference. I have long loathed the never-ending summers, large reptiles, and lack of seasons. While I never felt South Florida was home, moving seemed impossible. We were tied there; my husband’s job and the kids loved their school.

Then this year, everything changed for literally everyone. We all of a sudden found ourselves among other things, with newfound flexibility and asking ourselves if we should move?

So, we decided to test the market, put our house up for sale, to just see what would happen? Thirty days later, we are now living in a rental in Asheville, North Carolina, and celebrated a true white Christmas, unwrapping gifts of wool socks and long underwear, forgetting all about our swimsuits and flip flops.

While we fancied ourselves to be pioneers of sorts, it seems we are not alone, and instead in the company of 15.9 million Americans who have moved during the pandemic.

So, did we move for the same reason everyone else did?

It seems people are crisscrossing the country for all sorts of reasons, some out of necessity, and some out of the realization that a move might bring higher quality of life with less financial burden. Like most things with this pandemic, we will see if these changes on a large scale are temporary or a short-term fix to a historical event.


Many in expensive densely populated cities, have moved for financial reasons as well as for safety, as these cities were hit hard early in the pandemic. Outside of cities like New York and San Francisco, many have decided that now was a time that a move was at the very least possible or necessary.

Various studies have been done in 2020 to track the relocation of people amid the pandemic.

LinkedIn compiled data from April 2020 to October 2020 based off zip code. According to their data (article linked below) Austin, Texas gained the most people, while Hartford CT, NYC, and the San Francisco Bay area had the largest exodus. This data signifies people are leaving cities with high taxes and cost of living and relocating to cheaper suburbs where they can spread out during quarantine.

Ten Cities that have gained the newest residents:

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Phoenix, AZ
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Tampa, FL
  5. Jacksonville, FL
  6. Charlotte, NC
  7. Dallas, TX
  8. Denver, CO
  9. Las Vegas, NV
  10. Charleston, SC

According to study, that analyzed 25,000 moves since March 2020, 15% of those moves reported moving because of the pandemic, and 37% moved because they could no longer afford to live due to company closures or downsizing. The age demographic of 18-29-were more likely to relocate, suffering more extreme job loss and factors such as college closures with little idea of what reopening of colleges would look like.

A recent study from The Pew Research Center shows that one in five Americans have moved or know someone who has moved during the pandemic.

I guess for McHenry, the Whyman family is that family. I feel lucky though to have this be a choice, with continued employment and recognize for many Americans that this is not the case.

As we enter 2021, I hope we take time to reflect on this past year, including all the Americans we have lost, due to the pandemic and otherwise. We should also reflect on the historic global response with treatments and vaccines to stop this deadly virus. Reflect on what we have learned and valued. There is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are in a position to help someone in need, please consider doing so. Below is a list of compiled nonprofits by Vanguard.

Happy New Year! May the New Year bring each of you and your family health, happiness and peace.

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