Which Americans are most likely to change residences? The young and the restless. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's update on geographical mobility, Americans aged 20 to 29 were the top movers between 1998 and 1999 (www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/migrate.html). Some 32.4 percent in that age group headed for greener pastures during the year - more than double the national average of 15.9 percent. Apparently, the older you get the less restless you feel, as household mobility decreases steadily with age: 22.8 percent for the 30 to 34 set; 14.1 percent for those 35 to 44; 9.5 percent for 45- to 54-year-olds; 6.7 percent for those 55 to 64; and just 4.5 percent for the 65 and older group.
Most movers don't go very far, though. Only 17.6 percent of movers relocated to another state, 19.8 percent moved to another county in the same state. The majority - 59.3 percent - stayed within the same county. As might be expected, renters move more frequently than homeowners: 33.2 percent versus 8.3 percent. Geographically speaking, the Northeast showed the lowest moving rate, at 11.7 percent, followed by the Midwest (15.1 percent), the South (17.1 percent), and the West (18.5 percent).
According to Mayflower Transit's 1999 survey, "America on the Move," (www.mayflower.com), half of the country's moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which accounts for a lot of September middle school essays entitled "How Miserably I Spent My Summer Vacation." The survey indicates that 43.5 percent of interstate moves are personal, 42.2 percent are corporate relocations, and 14.3 percent are military-related.
Job-specific relocation is a pursuit for the young as well. Atlas Van Lines' annual Corporate Relocation survey, released this past summer, polled representatives from 300 U.S. companies (www.atlasvanlines.com). The study found that 93 percent of all transferees were between the ages of 25 and 45 (just 4 percent were over 45). Atlas also learned that 20 percent of transferees in 1999 were women, a substantial increase over the 11 percent figure for 1985. (It's statistically unclear whether moving from First Lady of the United States, to New York Senator, constitutes a relocation, transfer, or just plain carpetbagging.)
As their employees hit the highway, more employers are tracking them using the superhighway. According to the Atlas survey, 71 percent of corporate participants said they used the Internet to research and organize employee relocations. Just three years prior, that figure was a mere 6 percent. Movers, in general, use less bandwidth: In a movecentral.com survey conducted by Atlantic Marketing Research, 12 percent of all respondents with Internet access researched moving companies on the Web; 8 percent researched real estate sites.
That survey polled 22,000 relocating Americans about related expenditures. The 42.6 million Americans who relocated between 1998 and 1999 spent $102 billion on move-related goods. That ain't Styrofoam peanuts. Homeowners laid out an average of $9,400; renters $3,700, on such purchases.
What did they buy (besides maps)? Fifty-seven percent of owners and 37 percent of renters bought furniture within 12 weeks of moving, with owners spending an average of $3,500 and renters shelling out $1,220. Thirty-five percent of homeowners and 40 percent of renters bought bedding, 72 percent within three weeks after their move. Owners spent an average of $420, renters $240. No doubt the new bedding is for their new master suite: A 1998 survey of Cendant Mobility Broker Network members found that the number one feature in new homes sought by relocating employees was a master suite on the first floor (www.cendantmobility.com). An in-home office was the runner-up.
Fifty-five percent of homeowners purchase at least one appliance when they move, suggesting one of two things: that they either break at least one appliance when they pack, or that their new home is just begging for a bread maker. Some 15 percent of homeowners and 12 percent of renters stated that they bought a computer within the eight weeks surrounding their move; homeowners spent an average of $2,160, and renters spent $1,340. Computers are good investments for those about to move, since an online auction of all the junk you don't feel like taking with you is a lot less work than an actual garage sale. And speaking of garages, 12 percent of all moving homeowners bought a car; 66 percent of these car buyers made the purchase within four weeks after moving into their new abode.
Then there are those whose relocation needs are unending. Last year, the FBI celebrated the 50th anniversary of its list of top 10 fugitives (www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/tenlist.htm). Since 1950, of the 458 fugitives who have made the list, 429 have been captured and relocated to jailhouses - not necessarily the type of housing they would prefer.