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Why do people move – and what do they want?

LONDON – Nov. 11, 2015 – Why do people choose to live where they do, and how do their priorities and housing trade-offs shift over time? Using data from a recent study by the Centre for Cities, a research and policy institute based out of London, CityLab highlighted some key insights into the motivations behind where people choose to live.
The top reasons overall for choosing where to live aren’t surprising: The cost of housing (at 28 percent), proximity to family and friends (28 percent), the size and type of housing (22 percent), and proximity to work (21 percent).
However, Richard Florida, co-founder and editor of CityLab, says that specific housing decisions vary significantly depending on age. He says people generally make three big moves in their lifetime, and their priorities and trade-offs are different at each stage.
Florida says that real estate agents should keep the age demographics in mind when highlighting the value of each listing to make sure descriptions match their priorities.
Three main types of moves:
1. The post-college, career-minded 20-something moveYounger adults 25-34 years of age tend to make housing and moving decisions based on their career – 31 percent said that being close to their job or their partner’s job was a priority. The cost of housing also counts, with 30 percent saying it’s a big factor.
While much has been written about younger buyers’ desire to be close to restaurants, bars and cultural amenities, however, only 9 percent considered those factors important to a home purchase decision. And compared to other groups, access to green space and environmental factors weren’t as important.
2. Starting a family/mid-30s movePeople in the 35-54 age group – many times focused on raising a family – were also very concerned with the cost of housing. Unlike their younger counterparts, though, they placed high value on the size and style of housing (21 percent), the safety and security of the neighborhood (17 percent) and access to good schools (13 percent).
Twenty-five percent said it’s important to live near family and friends. Few in this demographic ranked access to restaurants and cultural facilities as important, however.
3. Empty-nester and retirement moveThirty percent of the 55-and-over demographic listed access to green space and nature as their top priority. The size and type of housing was also important (29 percent), and nearly 20 percent said they wanted to be close to their jobs. Living in a neighborhood near family was also important (27 percent), as well as living in a safe area (at 17 percent).
“While some of us are inherent urbanites or suburbanites, our preferences change over the course of our lifetimes,” says Florida. “Many young people may prefer big cities, with their vibrant job and dating markets, and abundant amenities and things to do. Those with families prioritize bigger homes with better schools and more parks and green space. Ultimately, we look for the cities and neighborhoods that fit us best at the time.”
Source: “Why People Live Where They Do,” CityLab (Nov. 9, 2015)
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