Data Illustrates More Moved to be Closer to Family in 2021

From education to employment and entertainment, the pandemic caused us to rethink virtually every aspect of daily life. Priorities shifted. Consumer expectations got rejiggered. How time was spent — and with whom — evolved.  

So, it’s no wonder United Van Lines 2021 Annual National Movers Study — as well as its companion survey about motivational drivers — revealed some interesting trends. For one thing, there was a notable decline in those who moved for a new job or job transfer (32.5%, down from 41.7% in 2020, 49.2% in 2019, 51.4% in 2018 and 60.1% in 2015). That is down more than 25 points from 2015. 

On the flipside, the overall number of people who moved to be closer to family — 31.8% — took the number two slot among the reasons all people, regardless of demographic, moved. That’s been on the rise for quite some time: 27.5% in 2020 compared to 25.2% in 2019, 23.2% in 2019, 23.2% in 2018 and just 18.9% in 2015. 

Reasons For Moving Over Time Average All States

Reasons for Moving20212020201920182015
Retirement18.3%17.9%17.7%17.6%13.4%
Health5.8%6.2%5.2%5.2%4.4%
Job / Transfer32.5%41.7%51.4%51.4%60.1%
Closer to Family31.8%27.5%23.2%23.2%18.9%
Lifestyle14.4%13%12.1%12.1%9.5%
Cost of Living6.7%3%N/AN/AN/A

And while 17.5% cited COVID-19 as a contributor to decision-making in August 2020, just 11% of 1,412 respondents in October 2021 and 9.1% in November 2021. Where exactly did they move for familial reasons?  

Let’s dig deeper. 

Reasons for Moving to All States by Demographic in 2021

Reasons for Moving18-3435-4445-5455-6465+
Retirement0.2%1.1%7.2%34.4%37.2%
Health2.1%4%5.7%5.8%9.7%
Job / Transfer77.9%65.1%50.2%21.5%2.5%
Closer to Family16.1%18.6%23.2%31.2%49.3%
Lifestyle10.2%17.1%20.2%19.4%17.3%
Cost of Living4.4%7.9%7.7%9.3%6.4%

When broken down by age, job transfers and new jobs still outweigh all other reasons for relocating among the three youngest demographics. Meanwhile, moving to be closer to loved ones snagged the second place slot among ages 18-34, 35-44 and 45-54. Yet, among those 55-64 (31.5%) and 65-plus (49.3%), it became the primary reason.  

Naturally, job relocations tend to be led by external forces — better pay, a chance to climb the proverbial ladder or an organization moving its headquarters, for example. By contrast, being closer to family and friends is more internal — more emotionally triggered — and it sees a steady incline as people age, whether it’s due to needing help, the birth of a grandchild, or a desire to live in warmer climes with chill vibes. 

So, how much has that changed, depending on age, over time? 

The percentage of customers who moved to be closer to family and friends in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, were as follows: 11.5% (18-34,) 17.5% (35-44), 18.5% (45-54), 28.7% (55-64) and 46.5% (65-plus). That was a notable increase among every demographic in 2021 and a significantly higher number than back in 2015, when 8.3% (18-34), 9.8% (35-44), 13.6% (45-54), 23.9% (55-64) and 42.5% (65-plus) moved closer to those near and dear.  

So, yes, we increasingly value time with family as we age — and never more than in the last two years. However, sibling rivalry may have kicked in, reducing the numbers from when that pandemic first hit.  

Want to learn more about what motivates people to move? Dive into our 2021 Annual National Movers Study and check out our other blogs for a wealth of information to help you learn more moving trends.  

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