Moving to a new city is an intimidating process. As an out-of-towner considering a change, it’s even more difficult to pinpoint the exact location you prefer without having spent significant time in the area. Most newcomers default to the famed neighborhoods close the urban core. But, as it turns out, locals who know the city best tend to gravitate toward the suburbs–at least according to their online home search patterns.
According to Trulia’s Local by Locals study, 70 percent of those who reside in the nation’s hottest housing markets search in ZIP codes that are less populated than the average density of the overall metro. The overwhelming interest in less-crowded locales, i.e. the suburbs, indicates how often current residents seek solstice away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Consider the following five U.S. metros and where current residents in those areas want to live next.
Buying a home in Boston proper isn’t cheap, which is perhaps why locals are inspired to relocate outside of downtown. Not only can they find a better deal, but the suburbs offer a sense of tranquility that the city seriously lacks. Nearly three-quarters of searches in Hanson, Mass., a suburb in Plymouth County, are from locals. Hanson is only 30 miles south of the city, yet 86.9 percent less dense than the typical Boston metro community. With a median home value of $369,474, Hanson’s average listing is also well below the metro-wide median home price of $428,953.
Although the city offers better housing affordability than most, Chicagoans seem to prefer house hunting away from intercity neighborhoods like Bucktown and Logan Square. In New Lenox, Ill., a suburb 40 miles southwest of the Second City, 90 percent of searches come from Cook County locals. Home prices there are slightly higher–the median home value is $266,126 compared to $217,500 for the overall metro–so crowding could be the main motivator behind the move.
As the fastest growing market in the nation, it’s no surprise that just half of all Austin area home searches come from current residents. But when they do search, Austin locals prefer the outskirts over the urban core. Taylor, Texas, a suburb located 34 miles outside of city proper, ranks second on inhabitants’ lists. Over half of home searches in Taylor are native–likely because of a more affordable median home value of $169,566 compared to the metro’s median home value of $283,814. Plus, with Austin’s 12.2 percent population growth, some probably favor tamer communities that aren’t overrun with new residents. Taylor is 90.1 percent less dense than the metro median of 1,291 people per square mile.
Downtown L.A. isn’t nearly as popular as the city’s surrounding communities, especially among people who already call the SoCal city home. Sunland is slightly more expensive than the greater metro and 84.2 percent of all searches there come from Los Angeles metro residents. At a median home price of $565,853, Sunland house hunters pay a slight premium for a less crowded atmosphere.
Miami is the only housing market surveyed where the suburbs prove less popular among current residents. In Hialeah, a neighborhood west of Miami Beach, locals initiate 71.1 percent of all home searches. Despite a highly dense population (98.8 percent higher than the metro median), Hialeah’s more affordable home prices help offset the crowding.
With the exception of Miami, searching from homes like a local often means venturing out to the suburbs. While current residents know the city best, however, nothing compares to personal experience. When moving to a new city, homebuyers should spend a few weeks familiarizing themselves with neighborhoods before buying.
Written by Jennifer Riner on behalf of Trulia.