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Moving Report: Understanding How And Why People Move

November 22, 2023 4-minute read

Author: Miranda Crace


Most American adults have likely moved at some point in their life – whether it was for a new job, a different house, to be closer to family or friends or to experience a new neighborhood. People undoubtedly move for a variety of reasons and approach the moving process in numerous ways.

To learn more about the average mover in America, Rocket Mortgage® analyzed the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey (AHS) to find out who’s moving, why people are planning on moving and how people are finding homes.

36% Of People Planning To Move Want To Stay In Their City

Before working on their moving checklist, one of the first questions someone might ask is, “Where do I want to move?” They might decide they love the area they currently live in and simply want a different kind of residence, or maybe they want to relocate to another state entirely and experience a different lifestyle.

Infographic describing different places people plan to move to.

According to the AHS, 36% of people planning to move in the next year want to stay in the city they already live in, while 32% are interested in moving to a different city. This data continues to represent the many changes people go through in their lifetime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Americans move an average of 12 times in their lifetime. With every move comes new opportunities and different life stages to enjoy.

30% Of Renters Who Moved Became Homeowners

Another interesting aspect of moving is how many people relocate to become or stay a homeowner or renter. Both renting and buying a home come with various financial responsibilities, but moving to either rent or buy a residence provides ample opportunities for Americans to find their dream home or more flexibility, gain equity and/or improve their financial situation.

The AHS shows that 30% of renters who moved in the last 2 years became homeowners.

Infographic describing the amount of homeowners vs renters that moved into homes.

Our analysis found that 26% of renters who became homeowners said their housing costs decreased, which is another benefit of moving.

If someone renting an apartment and currently paying $1,900 a month in rent buys a home with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,40, this move could end up saving them money – specifically $500 a month – which adds up to a savings of $6,000 a year. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that homeownership comes with other expenses renting may not. That may include closing costs, insurance, home maintenance and landscaping.

Why Do People Move?

The fact that people move an average of 12 times in their lives shows that many factors could push someone to move in their lifetime. What are people’s reasons for moving? The AHS shows that 39% of people who moved did so to upgrade to a larger or better-quality home, while 35% of movers wanted to be in a more desirable neighborhood.

Infographic showing the percentage of reasons people move homes.

The data also suggests that people are moving to improve their living situation, although improving in that respect seems to be more of a priority for people who currently rent and are looking to buy. When comparing their previous home to their new home, 72% of renters who became homeowners said their new home was better, while 54% of homeowners said the same. Overall, 52% of those who moved said their new home was better.

How Are People Finding Homes?

Once a person decides to move, one of the next steps is seeing what types of homes are available on the real estate market. Potential homebuyers can go about finding homes for sale in various ways, including:

  • Browsing real estate websites
  • Working with a real estate agent
  • Driving around different neighborhoods
  • Word of mouth through co-workers, friends and family

Homeowners Relied On Real Estate Agents To Help Find Their Home, While Renters Found Their Home Online

A first-time home buyer may quickly realize that numerous parties are involved in getting a mortgage. However, if they’re already a homeowner, they might know exactly who to go to when the time comes to move and find a new home.

Infographic showing the different ways people found their new home.

According to the AHS, 51% of homeowners found their home by talking with a real estate agent, while 42% found their home by browsing homes online. With real estate agents acting as a guiding light for current homeowners, these numbers support the idea that an agent’s expertise is a necessity when house shopping begins.

The survey also reveals that 45% of people who are currently renting found their rental online, while 37% of renters found their place through family members, friends or word of mouth. Renting can offer a simpler process where information on rental properties is available through people one may know or, even easier, online.

The Bottom Line

If someone has decided that a move is in their near future, they should take the time to figure out exactly what they want from this move. Preparation includes creating a plan focused on where they want to move, how they’re going to find a home and how this move is going to impact their overall finances. These are all important factors to consider for someone who wants to establish what their move will look like.


We analyzed the latest data from the 2021 American Housing Survey (AHS) to explore Americans’ moving motivations and processes. A recent mover was defined as anyone who moved into their home within 2 years of the survey time, as categorized by the U.S. Census Bureau.

All responses are weighted to be representative of the American population, using the weights provided by the AHS.

Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years. Miranda is dedicated to advancing financial literacy and empowering individuals to achieve their financial and homeownership goals. She graduated from Wayne State University where she studied PR Writing, Film Production, and Film Editing. Her creative talents shine through her contributions to the popular video series "Home Lore" and "The Red Desk," which were nominated for the prestigious Shorty Awards. In her spare time, Miranda enjoys traveling, actively engages in the entrepreneurial community, and savors a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.