With the coronavirus pandemic likely to stretch into next year, many people are spending more time than ever before in their homes—but some are ready to find a new place altogether. Cue the U-Haul trucks.
Nearly half of Americans, 46%, are considering moving within the next year, according to a recent LendingTree survey. The online financial services marketplace based the report on a survey of more than 2,000 participants in September. But certain groups of people are much more likely to consider relocating than others—and they have some pretty compelling reasons for doing so.
"A lot of the reasons people are thinking about moving are related to the pandemic and the recession," says LendingTree Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze. "A lot of people are concerned about their living expenses. We have a lot of people who are behind on their rent and behind on their mortgage.
"A lot of people are looking for ways to reduce their housing payments, which for a lot of people is their largest expense," says Kapfidze. "They're thinking of moving somewhere where it costs less to live."
Many of those hoping for a change of scenery want to move to cut costs. That was the top reason for about 44% of survey respondents. Other reasons included needing more space, 27%; wanting a home with different features, 27%; wanting to live in a different part of town, 12%; and renters who weren't fans of their landlords, 11%.
Those looking for new homes are overwhelmingly looking for amenities and features they might not have prioritized before the emergence of COVID-19. They're seeking out bigger yards, larger kitchens, and a dedicated office space to work remotely or where the kids can do their online schooling.
"People are working from home more, so you need different things to be comfortable," says Kapfidze. "Perhaps you need extra space, perhaps you need a separate room dedicated for working. People are valuing some outside space a lot more than they used to because you're stuck at home."
Who's the most likely to want to move?
Remote workers were much more likely to contemplate picking up and leaving than those who need to report to their jobs in person. That's because it's a lot easier for these lucky folks to move just about anywhere with a good internet connection. Heck, why not go to a beach in Bali or a house by the lake?
Almost two-thirds of those able to work from home, about 64%, were thinking of moving compared with nearly a third, 31%, of commuters.
"If you're now working remotely, you may not need to be in an expensive city, or maybe you're somewhere that's really far away from your family," says Kapfidze. "[You] can move because there's more flexibility with work arrangements."
Meanwhile, renters were likelier to dream of moving than homeowners, at about 56% compared with 39% of homeowners. That's probably because they're a lot more mobile, as they're only tied to a property for as long as their lease. Homeowners, meanwhile, have to get their abodes into tiptop shape to put them on the market and secure a buyer before they can pick up and go.
Of those considering a move, more than a quarter, 27%, don't plan to go far. They would like to stay in the same area.
With the economy still struggling to rebound and millions out of work, many are hoping to save money by moving in with family and friends, 14%, or having those family and friends move in with them, 10%. This enables folks to cut down on rent, utilities, and other living expenses.
"There are still a lot of people who are out of work and receiving some sort of government support," says Kapfidze. "If you're sharing fixed living expenses with other people that [means] your proportion is smaller and that can save you some money."