Housing Costs May Prompt Population Shift

April 26, 2016

More residents of some of the nation’s priciest areas are heading to new cities where housing costs are lower. High-priced areas like San Diego, Silicon Valley, and some parts of Washington, D.C., are seeing fewer new residents.

On the other hand, lower cost cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and parts of Florida are seeing population gains, according to new U.S. Census data.

“Available and affordable housing may be the new piece in the continued gains in the Sun Belt counties,” says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “The housing market is motivating some of the growth in Nevada, as well as Florida, and maybe for Arizona too.”

Arizona’s Maricopa County – which includes Phoenix – saw its largest population gain in a decade in 2015. The county added 78,000 residents, Census data shows. Also, in Clark County, Nev. – which includes Las Vegas – the population grew by 46,000 last year, the county’s largest uptick since 2007. Utah County, Utah – which includes Provo – saw a 14,000 jump, its largest gain since 2009.

On the other hand, cities that have traditionally been the leaders in population gains, such as Los Angeles; San Diego; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Silicon Valley; and suburban areas of Washington, D.C., are seeing smaller population growth. Santa Clara County – the location of Silicon Valley – saw 22,000 new residents in 2015, down from 25,000 in 2014 and the lowest number since 2006. In Silicon Valley, the median home price is also $950,000, the highest in the nation.

Source: “High Housing Costs Driving Population Shifts?” RISMedia (April 24, 2016)