Homes, neighborhoods draw more people to Chicagoland than jobs

by Lydia Bhattacharya

Overall mobility rates in the U.S. have substantially slowed since the 1950’s, but that may not be the only change related to cross-country moves. Using data from the U.S. Census to analyze domestic migration patterns, STORAGECafé, a blog run by commercial real estate research and data platform Yardi Matrix, profiled the incoming populations of the ten major metropolitan areas across the country. Additionally, they compiled data on the general movement of people between states.

One interesting takeaway at the national level is generational: Though you might expect the youngest adults in the country to be the most mobile, it’s actually Gen Xers who are relocating the most. That generation, in their 40s and 50s, made up 40 percent of those moving to large urban centers, with millennials coming in at 32 percent.

As we’ve noted recently, Chicagoland hasn’t been one of the standouts in terms of attracting newcomers lately. Still, although domestic mobility is on the decline overall, America remains a hot spot for international buyers, and this is evident in the fact that the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area’s primary source of new residents come from Asian countries. According to STORAGECafé, they made up around 27,000 of all people moving to Chicagoland in 2017, almost four times more than the amount of people who moved from the New York metropolitan area to Chicago.

The primary reasons people moved to Chicago were looking for a larger or better-quality home (16.4 percent) or a better neighborhood (15 percent). Only 6 percent of respondents came here for work. Meanwhile, 13.3 percent of respondents cited the desire to form their own household as their main reason for moving to Chicagoland, and 9.7 percent made the move to be closer to family. Such data may be reflected in rankings such as Niche.com naming Naperville as the best city in the nation to raise a family in 2018.

Compared to other metropolitan areas, a large portion (10 percent) of the domestic newcomers to Chicago are represented by Gen Z movers, age 25 and under. Chicago also attracts one of the highest numbers of people from the baby boomer generation, making up around 6 percent of total migration.


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