What percentage of Americans currently live in the town or city where they grew up?
The U.S. Census Bureau reported
that the percentage of Americans moving over a one-year period fell to a new low in 2016; only 11.2% of the population had moved compared to the previous year. Despite the fact that many Americans move multiple times over the course of their lifetimes, a large percentage elect to stay close to home. In fact, nearly 72% of Americans live in or close to the city where they grew up.
Why They Stay
Of the survey respondents who indicated that they've stayed close to home, nearly half said that their decision was made so that they could stay close to family. Being near family and loved ones is consistently found to be a motivator for those who either relocate or stay. Another 24% of survey respondents indicated that they've stayed close to home for familiarity and comfort, while 13% said the low cost of living kept them close to home.
Similar results were found when the Pew Research Center
conducted two studies in 2017 exploring what makes life most meaningful to Americans. The first survey asked for open answers phrased in the respondents' own words. The second was a closed-ended survey that provided a set of answers for respondents to choose from.
In both studies, family ranked high among what individuals value. In the open-ended survey, 69% of respondents mentioned family when writing about what gives them a sense of meaning. The next-highest factor was career, showing up in 34% of answers, followed by money, which appeared in 23% of answers. In the closed-ended survey, family dramatically outranked the other options, counting as the most important source of meaning for 40% of respondents. The family factor was followed by religious faith, which carried the most meaning among 20% of respondents.
Who Stays Near Home
Women are more likely to stay near home than men. Of the survey respondents, 75% of women lived in or close to the city where they grew up compared to 68% of men. Of the women who stayed, 51% wanted to stay close to family, and a quarter stated they did so for familiarity and comfort. Among the men who stayed close to home, 48% did it for family and 22% for familiarity. Fifteen percent of men stayed near home for a job compared to 12% of women.
Of those who didn't stay close to home, however, women were more likely to leave their state of residence. While 69% of men moved out of state, this decision applied to 72% of women. Family again played a role. Twenty-four percent of women moved out of state to be close to family compared to 19% of men. Meanwhile, 15% of men left their state of residence for the climate while only 9% of women moved for this reason.
How Long Americans Have Stayed Near Home
More than 30% of Americans have lived in or near their hometown for at least 10 years. Another 18% have lived near home for 11 to 20 years, and 20% lived close by for 21 to 30 years.
Tenure falls as Americans age. Thirteen percent of those ages 31 to 40 live near the city where they grew up, as do 13% of people ages 41 to 50. Six percent of Americans have lived in or close to the place they were born for 50 years or more.
Why Americans Move
Among the survey respondents who indicated that they no longer lived in or near the city where they grew up, 30% had still stayed within the same state. Their reasoning was similar to that of respondents who stayed in their hometown, with 43% indicating that they wanted to stay close to family and 22% saying that they liked the familiarity and comfort of staying in the state that they knew. A low cost of living was the primary reason to stay for 13% of respondents.
Among the 70% of respondents who had moved out of state, their job was a primary factor. Forty-two percent of respondents who left the state where they grew up did so for work. Meanwhile, family factored into out-of-state moves as well. Twenty-two percent of respondents who left the state where they grew up did so to be closer to family, while 12% moved to pursue a lower cost of living and another 12% moved for a change of climate or environment.
When Moves Take Place
The most common time for individuals to move out of the state where they grew up was between the ages of 18 and 30. In this period, 38% of those who left their state of residence made their move. Only 32% moved after the age of 30. This finding coincides with the period when
Americans typically start having families
. The average age of first-time mothers in the United States is 26, and the average age of a first-time father is 31.
Although a direct correlation wasn't reported, it seems that as families grow, the rate of individuals moving out of state falls somewhat. Stability and familiarity are established, and the logistics of moving become more difficult as families grow and children enter school.
The Bottom Line
The above data expounds only upon individuals who have left their hometown. This data doesn't provide insights into the large number of people who move but stay within or near the place where they grew up. A number of respondents mentioned above who did not leave the area may have moved several times while staying around the same city. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 42% of people who moved did so for a new or better home or apartment.
Moving is a big decision
with many consequences, but it's worth the effort for many individuals. As the numbers show, staying close to family consistently ranks high among the reasons to choose a home. If family members leave an area, it's likely that others will follow, particularly if they don't have any other family nearby. The right home is often a matter of finding the right job, an affordable cost of living, and proximity to those who matter most.
We surveyed 2,000 Americans with an age of at least 25 years old asking them if they have moved in relation to their hometown.