Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › Winter Cold Prompts Apartment Interest in Warmer Climates

At ForRent.com, we love crunching numbers. And after shovelling out from the most recent snow storm, we started wondering how the cold weather affects people’s rental choices.

With the 2017-2018 winter being so severe, we were curious to research how many cold-weather residents were considering relocating to warmer climates. We expected the cold weather to have some impact on relocation, and as the temperatures got colder into December and January, the number of renters who were seeking to move south increased. But we were surprised by how big of an impact the cold temperatures had on relocation interest.

How Cold Did It Get This Winter?

For many northern cities, this was a particularly harsh winter.

New York City had one of the top five stretches of cold with the most number of days in a row that were 32 degrees or lower.

Boston tied it’s all-time temperature record with seven consecutive days where temperatures were at or below 20 degrees.

Chicago had the coldest New Year’s Day on record with a high of 1 degree.
In Detroit, a December low of -4 degrees tied the record that was set in 1925.

The lowest temperature during this time period was recorded in Minnesota, 3 ½ hours north of the Twin Cities, where it got all the way down to -45 degrees on New Year’s Eve.

How Much Warmer Is It in the Destination Cities?

With record-breaking colds and frostbite warnings aplenty, residents living in these colder climates may have started visualizing a winter in which snow boots are replaced with sandals.

To get a sense of how different the two climates were, we looked at temperature data recorded at the cold locations of Chicago O’Hare Airport, NYC’s Central Park, and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Our warm-location temperature data came from the locations of Phoenix Airport, downtown Los Angeles, and Florida International University in Miami.

Across the months of November, December and January, the average temperature in the cold-weather locations was 37 degrees, and the warm-weather locations had an average temperature of 66 degrees. So that’s a 28 degree difference between the climates.

In addition to the personal desire for living in a warmer climate, there are practical reasons too. Renters in cold climates who don’t have a utilities-included apartment would also see the temperature difference as a significant utility cost savings. In fact, depending on the utility costs of their current apartment, the amount of savings on heating expenses could be just about the same as moving costs, making relocation to a warm climate no more expensive than staying put in the cold one. (Not that I’m rationalizing or anything.)

Relocation Interest in November

In the relocation data that we pulled for November, we see a strong interest in moving from colder climates to warmer climates. In particular, the strongest trend nationwide was for New Yorkers moving to Florida. The top destination city was for Miami, followed by Orlando, and then Tampa.

In the map below we see the visual patterns of where people are relocating from and to. This shows is that renters are considering cross-country moves as well as moves to warm weather. New Yorkers are also seeking apartments in California, and renters in Seattle are looking to escape the gray skies and head to sunny Florida.

Record-Setting Cold Prompts Apartment Interest in Warmer Climates
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Map shows most popular moves from individual cold cities to warm cities

Slight Increase in Warm-Weather Living in December

As we edge into the colder month of December, there is a 10% increase in overall interest of renters who want to move from colder climates to warmer ones.

In looking at the city-by-city changes between November and December, there’s an increased interest in relocating to Los Angeles. There were increases in both the New York to Los Angeles trajectory and the Chicago to Los Angeles trajectory.

The map below visualizes this increased interest in southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego.

Record-Setting Cold Prompts Apartment Interest in Warmer Climates
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Map shows most popular moves from individual cold cities to warm cities

January Had a Significant Increase in Relocating to Warmer Climates

Following the 10% increase between November and December of residents in cold locations looking to relocate to warmer ones, there was an even bigger increase between December and January.

In January, there was a 25% increase in the number of renters wanting to relocate from a cold city to warmer one. That’s a significant growth. And with temperatures at record lows, the interest in warmer climates is understandable.

Record-Setting Cold Prompts Apartment Interest in Warmer Climates
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Map shows most popular moves from individual cold cities to warm cities

So the total rate of change between November and January was 38%.

Comparatively, relocation interest of moving from one cold-weather city to another cold-weather city during the same timeframe either had a slower rate of growth or even some declines.

For example, New York residents that were interested in Boston apartments only increased by 12% between November and January. It could be speculated that the growth could stem from extra time at the holidays, plans for the new year, or college acceptance letters arriving.

In another case, residents from Chicago had a declining interest in relocating to New York between November and January. There was an 11% drop in interest in New York apartment rentals by Chicago residents.

Trends in Population Migration Within The U.S.

Between November and January, the data showed that as average temperatures dropped, the interest in moving to warmer climates increased.

Pew reports that there is a broader trend where the U.S population is migrating to locations in the south and west of the country.

In addition to the relocation drivers of jobs and affordable housing, economics has had a major impact on relocation patterns. During the recession, only one in five people who wanted to move somewhere else did so.

“The Snow Belt-to-Sun Belt migration is coming back after a huge lull in response to the recession and post-recession period,” said William Frey of the Brookings Institution. “Up until now, regional migration was not picking up at the same time that other economic indicators — jobs and housing — seemed to be on the upswing.”

The Methodology of Our Analysis

To see if renters are more likely to move to warmer climates during a severe winter, we started by looking at our database of apartment rental search records during the months of November, December and January.

Then we filtered the search data to limit our results from people living in cities with cold winters who are searching for rentals in cities with milder winters.

The cold-weather cities of origin that we included were:

New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Washington, DC
Minneapolis, MN
Boston, MA
Milwaukee, WI
Chicago, IL
Wichita, KS
Seattle, WA
Pittsburgh, PA
Detroit, MI

The warm-weather destination cities that we included were:

Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Riverside, CA
Anaheim, CA
Fresno, CA
Orlando, FL
Miami, FL
Tampa, FL

About :

Amber is the Director of Content Marketing for ForRent.com and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber strategizes, executes and optimizes a content and social media plans across multiple channels and platforms. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of the ForRent.com brands. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.

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