Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

Former Los Angeles residents who fled the city last year didn’t go very far, according to a CBRE analysis of address changes filed with the US Postal Service.

LA ranked fifth nationwide in terms of outbound moves, recording a loss of 8.3 per 1,000 residents. By comparison, the city recorded 6.2 move-outs per 1,000 residents in 2019. While this equates to a 29 percent year-over-year increase, it’s still just a small fraction of Los Angeles County’s total population.

Remote work, changing lifestyle needs and low mortgage rates prompted Los Angeles residents to search for housing beyond county lines. CBRE estimates that LA resident moves to the nearby Inland Empire rose by 14 percent in 2020.

Incorporating cities in western Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County, the Inland Empire logged the fifth-highest number of net move-ins last year. The region gained 1.2 per 1,000 residents, a significant improvement over 2019 when 1.0 per 1,000 residents were lost to outbound moves.

Home prices in the Inland Empire surged 12 percent last year, according to CoreLogic, making it one of the hottest housing markets in the country. By LA standards, however, single-family homes in the area are still considered relatively affordable.

Data from the California Association of Realtors indicates that at the end of 2020, the median sold price of a home in the Inland Empire amounted to $450,000, compared to $625,250 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Across the state, Sacramento saw the largest surge in net movers, adding 0.3 per 1,000 residents in 2020 in contrast with a loss of 3.2 in 2019. CBRE noted that moves from San Franciso County to Sacramento County jumped 70 percent last year, largely attributable to tech workers with the ability to work from home permanently.

“Overall, data shows that moves in 2020 tended to be short-distance, or at least within a few hours drive of one’s previous residence,” reads the report. Nationwide, address change volume ticked up 2.8 annually, but address changes to counties within a 100-mile and 100-to-500-mile radius increased by 6.5 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

The urban exodus is likely to subside in 2021 as vaccination rates improve, offices reopen and lower rents encourage moves to cities. The report suggests that COVID-19 may have merely accelerated a migration shift that was already underway.

“The pandemic came just as the bulk of the large and increasingly affluent millennial cohort had reached prime family formation age. Consequently, millennials had been trending toward more suburban residences even before COVID-19 came on the scene.

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