The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

1 in 7 residents of the D.C. area moved during the pandemic, poll finds

A larger share of area residents say they have seriously considered moving to a new community since the pandemic began.

The U.S. Capitol from Columbia Heights. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
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While millions of Americans stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic, many others moved — some motivated by the ability to work remotely.

One in 7 D.C.-area residents (15 percent) say they temporarily or permanently moved in the past year, according to data from a Washington Post-Schar School poll released this month, although most say their move was not related to the pandemic.

Among all residents, 5 percent say they moved because of covid. Among those who moved, 37 percent say they moved for reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A larger share of area residents (23 percent) say they have seriously considered moving to a new community since the pandemic began. The July poll included current Washington-area residents, representing those who moved to the area or within the region but not those who left the region entirely.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a migration out of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas and into smaller regions during the pandemic. Researchers have found many reasons for the trend.

The pandemic, they say, has led many people to reevaluate their lifestyles. At the onset of the pandemic, some people escaped to vacation homes in the country or at the beach, while others fled areas where they feared becoming infected or headed home from closed-down college campuses.

Pew Research Center data indicates that many Americans who moved wanted to live closer to family or to avoid coronavirus risks. But while the crisis afforded some with remote work capabilities the opportunity to relocate, others moved for financial reasons because of jobs lost during the crisis.

Commuting patterns, workplaces may look different in a post-pandemic Washington, Post-Schar School poll finds

In the Washington area, the Post-Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University poll finds that nearly 1 in 4 residents (23 percent) have seriously considered moving to a new community since the pandemic began, including 29 percent of D.C. residents, 25 percent in the Maryland suburbs and 21 percent in the Virginia suburbs.

Younger adults are most likely to say they have considered moving to a new community, with 29 percent of those ages 18 to 39 saying they have considered such a move, compared with 23 percent of people 40 to 64 and 12 percent of seniors.

People who worked from home are slightly more likely to say they have considered moving than those who are employed but did not work from their homes (26 percent vs. 18 percent, respectively).

Nationwide, 28 percent of U.S. adults say they have seriously considered moving since the pandemic began, the Post-Schar poll finds, and 17 percent say they have already moved.

Although city residents (21 percent) nationally are more likely to say they moved than suburban or rural residents (14 percent each), that pattern was not seen in the D.C. regional data. Almost an equal share of residents in each jurisdiction say they moved: 15 percent in D.C., 14 percent in the Maryland suburbs and 16 percent in the Virginia suburbs.

Adults under age 30 in the D.C. area are most likely to say they moved at least temporarily in the past year (27 percent), compared with fewer than 2 in 10 across other age groups.

Factoring into their decision to move, low crime ranks at the top of the list of priorities among D.C.-area residents overall, with 78 percent saying it’s extremely or very important. High-quality public schools are next at 57 percent.

A majority of workers, 56 percent, say having a short commute is a priority.

The same Post-Schar School poll finds some workers in the Washington region are hesitant about returning to their pre-pandemic work and commuting lives when the pandemic eventually ends. About one-quarter of workers prefer teleworking most or all of the time once the pandemic ends, and another quarter want an even split between teleworking and leaving home for work. Roughly half of workers say they would prefer to mostly or always leave home for work.

Virus caution among residents could slow D.C. area’s comeback, Post-Schar School poll finds

The poll finds 50 percent of residents say being near extended family is extremely or very important, while the same share say this about living in a place where they can afford more space.

Less important to them is easy access to the outdoors for things like hiking, fishing and camping (39 percent say this is extremely or very important), living in a racially diverse area (37 percent) and living in a place where most people share your political views (19 percent).

The Post-Schar School poll surveyed a random sample of 1,000 adults living in the Washington area and was conducted by telephone from July 6 to July 21. Overall results have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points; the error margin is larger among subgroups.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.