Americans are leaving the nation’s big cities in search of cheaper homes and open spaces farther out. Nearly every large metropolitan area had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004, with a few exceptions in the South and Southwest, according to a report released by the Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau measured domestic migration — people moving within the United States — from 1990 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2004. The report provides the number of people moving into and out of each state and the 25 largest metropolitan areas.
The states that attracted the most new residents: Florida, Arizona and Nevada. The states that lost the most: New York, California and Illinois.
According to the IRS, more than 42,000 non Floridians moved to the First Coast in 2003 and 2004. Buyers from Northeast, West Coast and other areas see bargains in the Jacksonville area as a cheap alternative to the exceedingly pricey fare in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
More than 10,000 new, single-family homes were sold in the Jacksonville area last year, according to the Real Estate Strategy Center. That number is expected to rise between 5 percent and 10 percent this year.
According to tax return data collected by the IRS, more residents moved to the Jacksonville area from San Diego than any other out-of-state county in the United States between the 2003 and 2004 tax seasons. Virginia Beach, Va., and three Georgia counties — Camden, Cobb and Fulton — round out the top five; other notable origins include Cook County, Ill., which is home to Chicago, and Suffolk, N.Y.
Within the metropolitan statistical area, the biggest moves were from Duval to Clay and St. Johns. Nearly 6,500 people moved from Duval to Clay from 2003 to 2004 and more than 5,200 moved to St. Johns. That’s compared to about 4,100 moving to Duval from Clay and 2,300 moving from St. Johns.
Jacksonville’s military presence can account for much of that influx — at least six of the top 10 counties are Navy towns. Rebecca Kruck, a spokeswoman for Jacksonville Naval Air Station, said the Navy does not collect information on which bases its transfers come from, but Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville NAS have about 22,000 active-duty employees.
Still, some homebuilders say the California connection isn’t limited to the tide of sailors.
KB Home North Florida President Vince DePorre said that he has seen the rise of California’s impact on the market during the past two years.
“They come here and there’s a complete disbelief in the affordability of Jacksonville,” he said. “They can still live a few miles from the ocean and make a lot of money on selling their California home.”
Californians make up nearly 6 percent of KB Home’s buyers in Jacksonville, followed by New Yorkers (1.9 percent), New Jersey residents (1.3 percent), and Virginians and Georgians (1.2 percent each).
Five percent of Pulte Home’s buyers come from Jacksonville, said senior analyst Jeremy Stafford of Pulte’s Jacksonville division. Ten percent of its buyers come from the Northeast, but the strongest new trend that Stafford has seen has been South Floridians moving north. More than 3,000 people moved to the area from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
“It’s the same situation as out West,” he said. “They have a lot of equity in their homes down there and can get a bargain in Jacksonville.”
In the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area — which includes Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Baker counties — the median price of single-family homes resold in February stood at $196,200, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. In California, the median — at which half of homes were sold for more and half for less — was $535,470. In New York, it was $300,000.
That trend might continue, especially with the notice Jacksonville is getting these days.
“The Super Bowl gave us an intangible boost that made Jacksonville, from a business perspective, more attractive,” he said. “We’re getting a higher class of business moving in than we did before that event, and that’s going to also change our migration patterns.”
Florida counties in the top 25 for number of inbound residents
Rank — County — Average number of new residents per year
7. West Palm Beach: 18,106
8. Pasco: 15,934
9. Lee: 15,654
13. Hillsborough: 12,978
17. Lake: 12,124
22. Brevard: 10,283
24. Volusia: 8,953
Florida counties in the top 25 for growth rate, comparing number of new inbound residents to the number of existing residents
Rank — County — Average annual rate of growth
1. Flagler: 79.1
9. Lake: 51.2
12. St. Johns: 48.4
19. Pasco: 42.2
21. Walton: 40.9
24. Hernando: 39.8
Source: The Florida Times-Union