More moving vans came and went from Washington this summer than any other city in the country, according to a recent report by a moving company.
United Van Lines, which services most of the Fortune 500 companies and a large segment of the military and government, analyzed its domestic moves across the country from May 1 to Aug. 31. The time period is considered peak season by the industry because that’s when more than 30 percent of all moves of domestic household goods take place.
United’s data showed that Washington was the most popular city to move to, but it was also the most popular to move out of. United Van Lines had 2,134 moves to and 1,774 moves from Washington. In 2011, there were 2,098 inbound moves to and 1,996 outbound moves from Washington.
Washington “was actually one of the top destinations in the United States for the fourth consecutive year,” said Melissa Sullivan, spokesperson for United Van Lines.
Chicago was second on the list of popular cities to move to this summer, followed by Atlanta, Phoenix and Dallas. Los Angeles was ninth, while New York City was 15th.
Washington, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and New York City were the top five cities to leave this summer.
Large metropolitan areas tend to have more people coming and going in general. But the data suggest more people want to live here than anywhere else.
“With the economic downturn in the whole economy and Washington being one of the largest of the 50 [Metropolitan Statistical Areas] with the lowest unemployment rate, it has just been attractive for people to come here,” said Peter Chinloy, a professor in the department of finance and real estate at American University’s Kogod School of Business. “When times get tough, people tend to move to Washington, and then when times get good, they tend to move out of Washington.”
Michael Stoll, an economist and chair of UCLA’s department of public policy, added that it wasn’t just Washington’s stable employment that drew people here. He also cited the city’s educated population and low crime rate as factors.
“It’s a very functional metropolitan area with a very workable public transit system,” he said. “For those reasons, it’s an attractive place.”
The influx has been lead by the migration of 20-somethings. Although they are a group that is inherently transient, they have been even more so during the economic downturn.
“Younger people want to be in the city, especially Washington, which has had a tremendous surge in the number of young people,” Chinloy said. “If I am someone just trying to find my place in the world, one of the places I would like to spend some time in is Washington because it has good job opportunities or internships or post-graduate experience. There’s a whole bunch of experiences that you are getting coming here because your alternatives have really shrunk by the downturn.”
Stoll said all the comings and goings is a net positive for the area.
“It’s good for innovation and spurring economic activity,” he said. “Having people moving in and out, or having people stay just a short period of time, could actually be a good thing. There’s never going to be a stalemate of ideas and energy being infused in Washington, D.C. because of its nature.”