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Natural Disasters Shifting Where Americans Want to Live

Wildfires have wreaked havoc across the U.S. this year, causing massive damage in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. The country has also weathered 27 named storms in 2020, including the most recent Hurricane Zeta in Louisiana.

New surveys conducted by Redfin, with more than 3,000 American adults over the age of 18 surveyed between October 7, 2020, and October 15, 2020, indicate that these recent catastrophes may impact how some U.S. residents feel about where they live.

Out of all Americans who responded to the survey question, “Have recent natural disasters (e.g. fires, floods, storms) changed your opinion of where you want to live?” 50% said that these disasters did not impact their feelings about where they wanted to live. However, over a quarter of Americans (27%) want to live somewhere else because of the recent natural disasters. The remaining 23% said they want to live where they currently reside even more.

The surveys also found that the area of the United States with the most people wanting to move elsewhere due to natural disasters is the Northeast. About one-third of survey respondents from the Northeast U.S. (33%) said that recent natural disasters have “made them want to move away from where they live or changed where they want to move to.”

In comparison, 28% of Southerners said natural disasters have made them want to leave their homes. 23% of Midwesterners and 27% of Americans residing in the West said they also were considering moving due to recent events like wildfires, storms, and floods. 

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said that natural disasters could have a significant impact on the homebuying process in the future.

“As more folks come face to face with wildfires, hurricanes and floods, we’ll see an increase in the number of Americans who consider moving due to natural disasters,”  Fairweather said. “Climate change could also become a bigger factor in the homebuying process if insurance companies stop offering coverage in catastrophe-prone areas.”

A Redfin analysis published in October found that homes located in zip codes at high risk of wildfires sold “for an average of 3.9% less than those in low-risk zip codes in 2020.”

There is no telling to what degree natural disasters will impact the housing market or how many more Americans may consider moving out of disaster-prone areas in the long-run.

About Author: Cristin Espinosa

Cristin Espinosa is a reporter for DS News and MReport. She graduated from Southern Methodist University where she worked as an editor and later as a digital media producer for The Daily Campus. She has a broadcast background as well, serving as a producer for SMU-TV. She wrote for the food section during her fellowship at The Dallas Morning News and has also contributed to Advocate Magazine and The Dallas Observer.

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