The 10 U.S. Cities Everybody Wants To Move to Right Now
By Evan Wyloge
Aug 8, 2023
Picking up and moving across the country—or even a state away—is a daunting proposition requiring planning, packing, moving trucks, and a whole lot of determination.
Nonetheless, people do it every day. In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 7.9 million people moved from one state to another.
But the destinations people are eyeing aren’t spread out uniformly. Some cities are drawing an especially high level of out-of-state interest—and Realtor.com® has the data to prove it. We’re revealing the metropolitan areas with an outsized appeal for home shoppers from other parts of the country.
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And it turns out, looking for a home outside the metro where we live is a growing trend.
“More shoppers are looking for homes in areas other than where they live,” Realtor.com economist Jiayi Yu wrote in her report on where people are looking for homes. “Americans are on the move.”
Today’s buyers are grappling with high home prices, rising mortgage rates, and inflation—so they are eager for a deal. More than anywhere else, out-of-state home shoppers are scouring listings in the more affordable metros in the South and Midwest. In fact, 6 of the 10 metros we’re highlighting have a median home list price at or below the national price tag of $440,000 in July, according to the most recent Realtor.com data. Seven have a price per square foot below the current national median of $224.
None of the big cities on the East or West coasts made the list—likely because of the higher-than-average home prices and today’s elevated mortgage rates.
To figure out which places are receiving the most out-of-state interest, we figured out the viewing patterns of people perusing home listings on Realtor.com. This data told us where people were shopping for homes in the second quarter of this year and where they were located when they were looking. From there, we pulled together a list of destination metros with the most interest from out-of-state home shoppers. More than 900 metros were included in the analysis.
We selected just one metro per state, to ensure geographical diversity. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)
A Flourish map
Here are the metros luring the most out-of-town home shoppers.
1. Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ(Getty Images)
Median list price: $539,900
The idea of moving to Phoenix now—as the midsummer temperatures have broken records for the number of consecutive days above 110 degrees—makes any sane person start to sweat.
But that’s not stopping a whole lot of would-be desert dwellers from perusing these toasty properties. The reach of the out-of-state demand for Phoenix stretches from Alaska to Texas and Minnesota to Hawaii.
Phoenix not only tops our list of demand from out of state, it also has the highest home prices of any place on the list. Homes are more than 20% above the national median list price of $440,000. However, Phoenix prices are down from their peak last year and rents have come down in recent months, making housing more affordable than in recent years.
For a little more than the metro’s median home price, home shoppers can find a three-bedroom condo downtown, in the city’s historic Roosevelt Row arts district. It’s a sure bet for anyone moving from out-of-state and looking to be steeped in Phoenix’s city life.
For those looking for more space, but at the same average price range for Phoenix, home shoppers can get a corner-lot, four-bedroom home in north Phoenix with a three-car garage.
2. Chicago, IL
Median list price: $389,000
Out-of-state buyers are a familiar sight in Chicago, says Nick Libert, a Realtor with Exit Strategy Realty in Chicago.
“A lot of these folks looking from Grand Rapids or Sheboygan, they’re looking for what we call an ‘in-town’ property,” Libert says.
They might have a big house with a lawn and a two-car garage, Libert says, but they also want to be able to take a handful of trips into the big city every year. So they might find a condo near the center of Chicago and have it set up as a short-term rental most of the year, or even have a timeshare arrangement with their friends.
“They can come in for all the big-city attractions. They can see Major League baseball, basketball, concerts, festivals, you name it.”
These are the same people, Libert says, who might also be interested in buying a home if their kids are going to college in Chicago, known for its many colleges and universities.
“Parents might look at the cost of student housing, and they’re saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is expensive,’ so they look at it as a chance to invest while the kid is in school,” he says.
3. Atlanta, GA
Atlanta, GA(Getty Images)
Median list price: $435,000
Moving to the South, we see Atlanta earning home shopper eyeballs from several nearby areas, highlighting this growing market’s regional appeal. Almost all of Atlanta’s top out-of-state housing demand is coming from neighboring Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Although the median list price in Atlanta is only about 2% below the national median of $440,000, the list price per square foot in Atlanta is still about 12% less than the national figure. That means home shoppers are getting more square footage for every dollar in Atlanta, compared with the national market.
Atlanta is another place where rents have been dropping, which could make it easier for folks from out of state to rent before buying in the city. A two-bedroom condo downtown just across the street from Centennial Olympic Park can be found for around $450,000.
4. Dallas, TX
Median list price: $469,999
Dallas became the stage for a 1980s cultural obsession, captured on magazine covers, coffee mugs, and T-shirts that all posed the question, “Who shot J.R.?”
But now, this relatively affordable metropolitan population hub of the Lone Star State is the obsession of would-be Texans from around the country. That’s at least partly due to the jobs that have been created locally. Companies such as Toyota, Charles Schwab, and Amazon have been expanding in and relocating to the area in recent years. Workers moving into the area need places to live.
In 42 out-of-state metro areas, home shoppers are looking the most at Dallas. And unlike some of the other metros on this list, where the appeal is mostly regional, out-of-state interest in Dallas has a wide reach, spanning from Oregon to New York.
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5. Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach, SC(Getty Images)
Median list price: $359,900
Myrtle Beach is one of these cities that just keep popping up on our lists of strong housing markets. From our deep dive earlier this year into the places where new construction is booming—Myrtle Beach was at the top of that list—to our recent look at the best markets for affordable houses in close proximity to golf courses, Myrtle Beach has a ton going for it.
Home prices in this coastal metro dipped in late 2022 about 10% from their peak in the middle of the year, but they’ve been on the rise since March. They are back to about 7% below last year’s high-water mark.
For $350,000, buyers can find a three-bedroom home within walking distance of the Myrtle Beach boardwalk and beach. For a little more, home buyers can get a custom-built, three-bedroom home on a quarter acre with a two-car garage.
6. Minneapolis, MN
Median list price: $461,000
Minneapolis is another big Midwestern housing market that shows strength as big coastal metros sputter along.
We noted earlier this year that Minneapolis is one of the strongest markets right now for sellers—where homes are still selling relatively fast and prices are still up year over year. That’s still true for the Twin Cities, which includes the nearby city of St. Paul.
And per square foot, Minneapolis is still priced about 5% below the national average. But the overall price for homes here, which generally have above-average square footage, has passed the national average of $440,000.
Those prices, in a bustling metropolitan area that’s home to national retailers such as Target and Best Buy, are drawing the most attention from the neighboring Dakotas and Iowa, confirming Minneapolis’ status as a strong regional destination for home shoppers.
7. St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO(Getty Images)
Median list price: $288,900
St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, is one of the most affordable metros on our list. Its median home list price is about 34% below the national average. We even featured St. Louis as one of the cities where people can still find plenty of homes for under $200,000.
It’s also straddling a state line, with portions of the metro area in Illinois. This means even viewers from inside Missouri and Illinois are counted as out-of-state viewers.
Nonetheless, the data shows St. Louis is another regional destination, with lots of home shoppers from Arkansas and Indiana.
For as little as $130,000, a home shopper can score a two-bedroom condo just across the street from St. Louis’ famous Forest Park, zoo, and art museum.
8. Tampa, FL
Median list price: $449,000
Florida became a hot spot during the COVID-19 pandemic as folks from all over the country moved in. The state’s largest metro on the Gulf Coast has been drawing out-of-state home shoppers from the northern tip of Michigan and upstate New York to Ohio and Tennessee, and as far west as Texas.
Tampa is one of our pricier metros, with a price per square foot of $260, 15% above the national figure of $224. But the homes here are a bit smaller than average, so the median price tag of $449,000 is closer to the national average.
“We’ve always been a relocation market,” says Callen Jones, a local real estate agent with Dalton Wade Real Estate Group. “We used to see really high numbers from New York or other East Coast states, where people would be looking to retire here.”
But the rise of remote work has meant more midcareer professionals coming to Tampa, Jones says, and more frequently from small and midsized Midwestern cities.
“If I can work anywhere, why would I live somewhere where I don’t see the sun for six months out of the year?” Jones asks. “And I can say that, because I was one of those people from a small town in Ohio, before I moved here nine years ago.”
9. Memphis, TN
Memphis, TN(Getty Images)
Median list price: $325,000
Buyers looking for affordable real estate are heading to Memphis. The Midwestern metro is the most affordable, by size, of any place on our list, at $160 per square foot for the median listing. That’s 29% below the national average of $224. This is another city where we recently found many options for buyers looking for a house priced below $200,000.
Memphis is the most affordable of Tennessee’s metro markets, and home prices have been fairly stable here since about the middle of 2022. Nashville, in contrast, saw prices spike faster in 2020 and 2021, then drop more precipitously last year before beginning to climb again.
For the median home price of $325,000, a buyer can get a sprawling four-bedroom home on a large lot, with a neighborhood country club and golf course nearby.
10. Charlotte, NC
Median list price: $439,990
Rounding out our list of metros attracting lots of out-of-state attention is Charlotte, where home prices are still a bit below the national average.
But it’s not just the prices attracting people, says Amy Smith, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Charlotte.
“Our lower tax situation here has been a big draw for people who have been coming from Chicago, New Jersey, New York,” she says, “But now I’m seeing a lot more people coming from California, too.”
The diversifying local economy in Charlotte also has a lot to do with it as does its relatively low cost of living, Smith says.
“It’s a lot of banking, finance, hospitality, tech. I hear people saying all the time: ‘our company headquarters is moving to Charlotte,'” says Smith.