The pandemic has changed everything, including where we choose to live. While many factors go into this choice, affordability remains a driving force, according to George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com.
Vacation and retirement destinations are also popular with those browsing real estate listings from other areas, according to Realtor.com. Some who can work remotely have also been active. “Worries over health, financial pressures, lifestyle, and well-being were channeled into finding a home in a location which offered ample access to the outdoors, better quality of life, and increasingly important, affordable housing,” Ratiu said.
To identify the most popular cities for homebuyers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Realtor.com’s “Here Are the Most Popular Cities for Homebuyers in 2022 – and the Places People Can’t Wait To Leave” report. The report uses search data for 300 of the largest metropolitan areas in the first quarter of 2022 and identifies the percentage of searches that came from outside the metro. Median home listing price for the entire metro area, including smaller towns and suburbs, also came from Realtor.com.
Affordability is attracting homebuyers to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and Decatur, Alabama, where median list prices were $232,500 and $268,000, respectively. (This is the cheapest city to buy a home.)
Punta Gorda, Florida, is an affordable retirement destination for people from the Midwest and Northeast. East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and Claremont, New Hampshire, draw homebuyers for their lakes and ski trails. Sunny weather in Prescott, Arizona, and the vibrant cultural scene in Santa Fe, New Mexico, make those Southwestern locales desirable.
Many of the towns people cannot wait to leave are transitory by nature. These include military towns such as Columbus, Georgia, which is near Fort Benning, and Dover, Delaware, the location of the Dover Air Force Base.
There also tends to be significant turnover in college towns. Among them is Gainesville, Florida, home to the University of Florida, Fort Collins, site of Colorado State University, and South Bend, Indiana, where Notre Dame University is located. An increase in crime has become an issue in Gainesville, and a decline in morale among police is a concern in South Bend.
Cities such as San Jose, California, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., are hurt by their own success and have become too pricey for many. Cities where people flocked to during the pandemic such as Manchester, New Hampshire, and Fargo, North Dakota, have witnessed soaring home prices, becoming unaffordable to many. (These are the 20 most expensive suburbs for home buyers.)
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