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Are Americans Really Fleeing Big Cities? Study Says No

December 17, 2020

Home buying is certainly heating up in the suburbs, but that doesn’t mean major cities are being abandoned.

Homeowners are not actually leaving cities in significant numbers, concludes a new study from LendingTree, in which researchers analyzed migration patterns of the nation’s 50 largest cities and compared them with levels from 2019.

A slightly larger percentage of homeowners have indeed moved from big cities to smaller towns in 2020 than in 2019, but the share of those relocating has remained largely the same over the past two years, the study notes.

A closer look at the data: In 2019, an average of 1.91% of homeowners who lived in one of the nation’s 50 largest cities moved to a smaller town. In 2020, that share grew to 2.18%, LendingTree’s study notes.

The majority of homeowners moved to a different home in the same city or moved to an entirely different city. Broken out, an average of 84% of homeowners stayed in the same city when they moved compared to nearly 16% who left for another city.

Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Nashville, Tenn., are the cities with the most migration to smaller towns in 2020, but still only at 4.85%, 4.28%, and 3.64%, respectively.

On the other hand, Philadelphia, Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla., have seen the least migration to small towns this year. Each had less than 1% of movers head to towns.