Moving Trends

Now this came as a surprise to me:

Why Some Americans Won’t Move, Even for a Higher Salary

Apart from the Great Wetback Episode Of 1986 (emigration, for those who haven’t been paying attention), I’ve moved around the U.S. on several occasions, mostly for job reasons (better job, more money), and every one of them was wrenching.  And of course none of my moves in the U.S. was from my home town, so I can well imagine that someone who has grown up and spent most of their life in (say) Indianapolis would be reluctant to leave family, friends, business contacts and so on to start all over again in a new location.

Many people, of course, take moving as part of life (I’m excluding Armed Forces folks from this, because moving is part of the deal), and I suppose I’m probably one of them — but that’s because my first move was so comprehensive and so final, the uprooting was total.  Subsequent moves, while somewhat disturbing, were much easier by comparison.

After Connie passed away, I gave serious thought to starting all over again, not just in another town, but even in another country.  During my sabbatical travels, I discovered that the cost of living in the south of France, for example, was about the same as living here in Plano, and for the briefest moment I considered it.  I love France, always have, and with little or no language issue, that part would have been easy.  The cultural change, however, would not  have been easy, and so I didn’t move Over There.  (Interestingly enough, while I love Britain even more than France, that was never an option, because the cultural change would have been even more  pronounced.)

And finally, I realized that the urge to move, to start all over again somewhere else, was more a factor of bereavement than from any desire for change:  so I stopped considering it.

Going back to the chart, however, I am very interested in the downward trend of the phenomenon.  If we assume that when America was still an agrarian, immobile society until the Industrial Revolution caused the mass migration to cities, could it be that the beginning of the study (in the late 1940s) was simply the crest of the wave, and that people were once again preferring to remain settled than to move?

And in recent years, of course, the technology has increasingly been able to support work-from-home or work-from-home-city, so one would expect the incidence of moving to slow even more.  That said, however, if one is able to work from home, then it doesn’t really matter where home is — so people could be expected to move elsewhere to improve their standard of living, say to cheaper housing.  So what do the numbers say about that?

Even the “housing” number has been falling — and I suspect that if one were to take away migration away from high-cost areas like the Northeast and California, the trend would be even more pronounced.  Interesting indeed:  I would have assumed the precise opposite trends, from both  charts, but apparently not.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.


  1. That higher salary generally isn’t, once you factor in the cost of living. I could have moved, Syracuse to CT, for a higher salary but the same house would have cost me more than double what I paid in Syracuse, and I would have gotten a smaller yard, more traffic and a longer commute.

    I did move to a smaller city near Lexington, KY since I can work from home and Mrs D watches the grandson. Shopping isn’t generally as convenient, but with Amazon, I hardly need to shop in person for anything except things I can get at Home Depot or Lowes. The nanny state laws regarding guns, fireworks, etc are nothing like NY. It’s almost like returning to the early sixties.

    Moving was, to be fair, a pain. You need to find new doctors, dentists, etc. You need to learn your way around. Packing and unpacking are unpleasant. Overall, I’d do it again for this move, but I don’t intend to move again.

  2. The missus and I moved from California to North Carolina in 1998. Her parents lived here and they were getting up in years. She was able to transfer with her job and I got work easily (computer programmer working on Y2K remediations). The best thing we ever did. The housing costs were a fraction of L.A.’s and the climate was even better to me (I enjoy 4 seasons). My next move, if it happens, will be to Tennessee. I have two brothers who have retired there, one from California and one from New Jersey (go figure). It is a RED state with no state income tax. The climate is roughly the same as here as is the cost of living.

  3. Like the other MarkD said above, a higher salary (unless it’s also a substantial promotion) is often eaten up by a higher cost-of-living.

    Increased ability to work remotely has changed the dynamic, as long as you have reliable high-speed internet (and you’ve got to be REAL far out in the sticks not to have that) work can be done from just about anywhere. It’s an advantage if you’re in the same time zone a the people you work with, unless you prefer to keep odd hours.

    As noted too, lots of things come into the decision to move, family connections, quality of life, availability of schools/health care/entertainment. I personally could live quite happily if I never set foot in a large city again, but some people like that sort of thing.

    Mark D (with a blank)

  4. WRT the higher cost of living, that was true for me and my family, but even with the higher cost of living, effectively doubling my salary more than made up for it.

    Moved from Michigan to Colorado in 2009 for better jobs with better pay. While wrenching for my bride, I made the move and never looked back. There aren’t many reasons why I’d move back now that my mom has passed. Family just isn’t a sufficient reason for me. My family’s motto might as well be “out of sight, out of mind”. I don’t really see my family that much less living 1100 miles away.
    Friends…yeah, all those friends who cried at our going away parties but in the 10 years since, not so much as a Facebook message? Pass. Job? Move from an area where the unemployment rate in my field is pretty much statistical noise to an area where I’d make a third of what I make here and deal with five times the headaches? Pass. Weather? No one leaves Colorado to live in Michigan for the weather. Cost of living? Other than real estate, the cost of living here isn’t that bad comparatively speaking.

    As for my bride, she says she’d like to move back if we could. However, when I ask her what for, there is little clarity in her answers.

  5. Moved from Mass to Colorado as part of a promotion and transfer. Best deal ever, the firm picked up ALL my costs for a move I would have done on my own dime. Lower cost of housing / better climate — (except for Stock Show Week ) …. 10 years later, they wanted me to move to Kuwait. Despite a promise that I would basicly bank my larger salary for 3 years, I still said no. A big pile of $ is pretty useless if you don’t come back.

  6. Moved from LI, NY to Oregon, one nanny state to another, but at least the gun laws here are reasonable: currently.
    Reason #1 – property taxes multiplied by a factor >10 from the time we moved into our house on LI ’til we decided to leave
    Reason #2 – Demographics were beginning to change rapidly

  7. I moved from Las Vegas to suburban Chicago in the early 1990 because my fiancé (now wife) had a far better job and better prospects for advancement (in fact she’s still with the same company); I had a harder time with my skillsets and the bigger job market here did matter. And IL had not gotten quite so broken back then, other than the use tax, bad union/pension issues, statewide FOID and some inbred towns’ gun laws (Evanston).

    However IL is well on its avalanche to full retard now economically and freedom-wise and we both decided we’re bugging out when we retire, which is hopefully low single digit years from now. With governor ‘toilet boy’ pritzker and supermajority D’s in both houses, the shit is already flooding out.

    Not sure where. Nevada has gotten overrun with nest foulers fleeing their infested states. Not deep south (climate), not AZ (also getting flooded with nest foulers), Colorado has broken bad, and a lot of the free states are getting flooded. We’re working on the possibles list now. But likely demographics over the next 10-20 years is something we’re trying to take into account. Too many fleeing leftists moving in can ruin a state in that period of time…

  8. Right now, there are few places to go where Mr. Fields can make his salary and keep his schedule. He’s a welder, pipe fitter by trade. Lotsa work here in Dirty Jersey.

    He could make more money pipelining, but we’d never see him, and we love him, and he’s quite the family man and likes being around us, and teaching the kids stuff he knows or wishes he knew.

    Eastern Tennessee or somewhere in Wyoming would be our destination if we could/would/had to move.

    Jersey is where my family is, and I live in a very nice rural mountain-ish part of the state and life is good on a day to day basis. The political climate sucks, taxes are too high, and currently the county is in discussion to build the second largest warehouse complex in the entire COUNTRY right along the Delaware River on a stretch of rural highway. It’s sure to bring a clusterf*ck of traffic, ugly housing, redundant business, and cookie-cutter shopping complexes to our quiet little chain of villages and hamlets ringed by the Water Gap and the piedmont parks that characterize our lovely county.

  9. I’d suggest that trend reflect the gradual decline of middle management jobs.

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