Every year, about 36 million Americans pack their worldly possessions into the back of a car or a u-haul and make their trek to a new home. What many people studying the migration paths of Americans notice, though, is that moving is hardly a state of equilibrium. More people are moving to certain areas than others — and collectively, these moving paths can have a big influence on the fate of city economies.Right now, there is an overall shift taking place from coastal cities to inland cities.
As difficulties with securing mortgages and high property costs persist in states like California and New York — among others — more people are moving inward, toward urban centers that promise an easier and more affordable lifestyle.
Oklahoma City is an example of a city that is benefiting from this shift into the inland cities. Not only has it outpaced most other cities for growth since about 2011, but in 2013, it was the 12th-fastest growing city. As The New York Times points out, it’s also done something many cities are trying to do: gained the coveted 25 to 34 demographic, experiencing a net gain of millennials who will be making large purchases with homes and cars.
“Our housing market in the Oklahoma City metro has remained very strong through-out the last 7 years. Our clients love the fact that they can afford a custom-built-home here for much less than most-average-homes elsewhere”, says Michelle Dohrwardt of Dodson Custom Homes.
For many, the trade off was easy. Hector Lopez, who works as a caricature artist, used to live above a garage in LA — for a lower price, he can now afford to live in a loft apartment in Oklahoma City. The change represents a difference in how movement occurred before the housing market crash. Between 2000 and 2006, more people were moving to high-cost housing areas, instead of those with affordable housing. After the recession and housing bust, though, the trend reversed itself, with low-cost cities growing 2.5% more quickly than high-cost cities.
Is there an end in sight to the migration to Oklahoma City? Many see the change as part of a larger movement — people are thinking about whether the traffic and high-costs of big cities like New York and LA are worth it, when cities like Oklahoma City offer a more reasonable pace for living and work.
“Everything is here; everything is coming here,” notes Aasim Saleh, who is new to the city and who, by moving to Oklahoma City, can now afford the home he could never afford to own in Seattle.