221K people relocated to Metro Phoenix from 2012-2017

View of Phoenix from Dobbins Lookout, South Mountain Park. / Visit Phoenix



With the middle-class squeezed by the rising cost of living, particularly housing costs, many average-earners find it an onerous endeavor to create a decent life for themselves and their families. Living in a big metro like New York or Los Angeles may come with a high income and more opportunities, but the cost of housing in these expensive areas can place a middle-class lifestyle too far out of reach.

The data itself tells the story. The average monthly rent in Manhattan is around $4,100, which represents a crushing 59% of the area’s median household income ($83,500), and the median cost of a home in the borough is $1.1M, 13 times the median income. The price to income ratio is a commonly used indicator of how much house one can afford and the recommended ratio is 2.6. Another example is Los Angeles County, where the rent costs on average $2,100 per month or 38% of income, and the median price of a home is around $630,000, almost 10 times the median yearly income of $66,000 in this area.

One solution to this issue is to move, so we decided to take a look at population movements within the U.S., using the most recent U.S. Census county-level population data. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 55% of those who decide to move do so for a housing-related reason, such as to relocate to a new or better home, to find cheaper housing, or to own their home instead of rent.


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