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Study: District of Columbia Residents Exit Over Housing

Phil Hall
Jun 10, 2015

The nation’s capital has long been recognized as a beacon for attracting jobseekers, but more recently it has seen an exodus of people that are moving elsewhere due to the local housing market.

A new study of Census Bureau data by District, Measured—the blog from the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis—more than 500,000 moved to the District between 2000-2014, yet the market only experienced a net gain of 90,000 residents during that period. This can be explained by having more than 650,000 residents move out of the District between 2000-2014.

“Why do people move out?” the study wondered. “It is housing. The top two reasons people report moving out the District in the last 15 years have to do with wanting better housing, seeking cheaper housing, or wanting to own a house, for example, and these reasons account for 36 percent of the moves out of the District whereas they account for only 12 percent of the moves into the District. Jobs however, account for 12 percent of the people moving out compared to 32 percent moving in.”

And the District’s loss is the gain of neighboring states. Between 2000-2014, 391,000 District residents moved to Maryland or Virginia, which is 42 percent of the people who left the city. In comparison, only 191,000—30 percent of residents who moved to Washington during that same period came to the District.

“Looking at the reasons why people move to the suburbs, housing still plays a role, but the top reason is to establish a household,” the study added. “It appears from the data that those who share housing in the District with roommates are most likely to move out to the suburbs when they want a place of their own.”

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