Migration: Where are people moving? Where will they go in the future?

by Chicago Agent

Chicago is one of the world’s great cities. People are drawn here from all over the world.

But what about our state and region, the Midwest? I’ve been thinking a lot about migration patterns lately. Recently, I saw a story on “CBS Sunday Morning” that got me thinking about them even more.

Here in Illinois, we’re all concerned about taxes, pension debt and the delicate balance between cost of living and quality of life. I put faith in our state association, Illinois Realtors, working to contribute to long-term solutions in public policy that address these complex issues.

In Chicagoland, we do enjoy a high quality of life. The global pandemic notwithstanding, we have wonderful outdoor activities, major sports, arts, culture and great restaurants and bars. And a diversity of housing choices, whether that’s a high-rise condo or suburban ranch.

On top of that, we have an ideal location for commerce and travel. It’s said that you can get on a plane in Chicago — either O’Hare or Midway — and get just about anywhere in the country in two-and-a-half hours or less. I know we all yearn for the time when we can safely do this again.

Conventional wisdom says that most people have the good sense to move from the cold North to the warm South. I’m an exception to that rule, having grown up in Louisiana, lived in Texas for a long time and moved just a few years ago to the Midwest — first St. Louis, and then Chicagoland.

People still move here every day. I audited a recent new-member orientation class we held via Zoom. At Mainstreet, we call it JumpStart. And we had more than 200 new Realtors in the class. Not all had moved to Chicagoland from out of state or even out of town. But I was surprised by the number of students in the chat who said they’d just moved here from places like Texas.

However, migration patterns show the reverse is happening.

Allied Van Lines does a study every year — its annual Magnet States Report — tracking where people are moving to and from. In 2020, Illinois was the top outbound state, meaning more people using Allied Van Lines as their mover left Illinois versus any other state. In that study, the No. 1 beneficiary was Arizona — the top destination state.

U-Haul does a similar annual study of do-it-yourself movers. U-Haul’s 2020 Migration Trends study had Tennessee as the biggest winner. And fortunately, Illinois was not the biggest loser. That unwelcome title now belongs to California. More U-Haul customers left California last year than any other state. That’s perhaps because of the double whammy of high taxes and natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and mudslides.

Which brings me back around to the CBS story that caught my attention. Correspondent and New York Times bestselling author David Pogue has written a book, “How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos.”

A key finding of Pogue’s book is that the Midwest is poised for long-term migration gains. That’s because over the coming decades, people will increasingly move away from the coasts and to the center of the country, where they are safer from extreme weather events like hurricanes and, eventually, rising seas. The Great Lakes region is mentioned specifically as a coming beneficiary of these changing migration patterns.

Although folks are already leaving the West Coast of our country for these reasons, the overall trend will take a while to play out. In the meantime, we’re already here. Let’s continue to work with Illinois Realtors on favorable public policies that benefit homeowners and enhance affordability and fairness in housing.

Let’s continue to embrace all that Chicagoland has to offer real estate consumers. It’s quite a lot.

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