Majority of Chicago Area Movers Choose to Live Here First, Find a Job Second

Jenny Zhang
May 25, 2018
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When it comes to choosing a place to live, you could say there are two types of people in the world. One type that will look for a job first, and relocate for that position. The other type will choose a location first, and do whatever they can to find a job in that city.

For a majority of apartment renters relocating to Chicago, as they say in real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.”

57.5 percent of apartment renters moving to Chicago identified as “location-first movers” according to a study by Apartment List. That means they chose to live in Chicago before applying for jobs here. The other percentage of movers, 42.5 percent, were “job-first movers.” Job-first movers applied for jobs in multiple cities, but ended up accepting a job and moving to Chicago. The study was limited to “non-student renters who are currently living in a metro other than where they grew up.”

The “location-first” majority is a common trend among other Sunbelt metro areas including Phoenix, San Antonio and Charlotte. Las Vegas had the largest share of location first movers, with 82 percent settling on Sin City before starting their job search. Chicago is clearly an exception to this trend, perhaps earning its location-first status for being the Midwest’s biggest city.

On the other side of the coin, tech and business hubs like Denver, Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C. and San Jose tended to attract more “job-first movers”.

One more important thing to note about location-first movers is that they tend to stick around. According to the survey, 42.8 percent of location-first movers plan to settle down in their new city long term, compared to 27.3 percent of job-first movers who plan to stick around.

The survey concluded that the majority of college-educated renters are job-first movers, while the majority of those without a college degree are location-first movers. This is because renters without a college degree are typically unable to justify the high cost of living (including housing costs) in more expensive metro areas. College-educated workers who are able to afford pursuing better jobs in these expensive metro areas don’t plan to settle down long-term either.

Perhaps this is why Chicago ranks lower than the national trend for location-first movers, with 36 percent of them planning to settle down for the long haul. Chicago also ranked lower at 29.1 percent compared to the national average of 35.6 percent for overall share planning to settle. Other cities that ranked lower include Baltimore, MD at 27.5 percent, Boston, MA at 15.6 percent, and Columbus, OH at 30.3 percent.


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