This may prove to be the year that 40 million Americans put on a move.
At midyear, as many as 20 million persons may have already relocated, based on estimates that one of every six Americans--or more than 40 million of us--will move into a new or existing home, apartment or condominium before the year is out.
The yen to move has been increasing since 1984, and the surge is headed by the desires and concerns of a college-educated, white-collar "migratory elite."
Rueben M. Stokes, an executive with a San Juan Capistrano-based national move management firm, describes that group as "upscale, high-tech-oriented, modern-day nomads" who are moving on the average of every 6 1/2 years, or about 11 times in a lifetime.
In a telephone interview, he said that 39.8-million persons moved from one home to another within the United States last year.
Stokes puts the anticipated 40-million mark this year into perspective by noting that it is greater than the population of several nations and more than the combined metropolitan populations of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia.
This movement trend should continue--as long as the business climate stays in its conducive mode and providing that the next national administration does nothing to discourage it.
The previous high mark in the history of family movement was in 1966, when 30% of our national population changed addresses. The movement declined in the 1970s and early 1980s, he said, and began to pick up three years ago.
Most, 53%, of this mobility in his new data shows that the majority moves a distance of 10 miles or less, but an increasing percentage--24%--are moving more than 100 miles.
In those cases, Southern and Western states become their new homes, usually Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. Most of these long-distance movers are relocating from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
While the primary reason for moving is the changing employment pattern within the nation--a continuing demand for employees with specialized skills in and near major metropolitan areas.
The recent turnaround in the Boston economy, because of its high-tech and university related needs, is an excellent example of how a dormant area's housing was impacted when the yuppies or the "elite" migrants moved into that area. Practically overnight, the blight in Boston gave way to new construction and a great demand for suitable housing for its newcomers.
Other factors cited by Stokes as influencing this renewed movement of people and families deal with desires for a larger home, 13%; a better location, 11%; buying the first home, 10%, and retirement, 3%.
He also pointed out that the mobility of this country is unmatched. "Of course, we're mobile because we have more automobiles, boats, planes and trains than any other society. . . ."
The business of moving people is changing too, Stokes noted. The "migratory elite" is much less likely to use traditionally accepted moving procedures, and they are much more demanding of specialized services. But "the three basic options still exist: the self move, 55%; the rental truck/equipment move, 24%, and the full-service van line move, 21%."
"Also, the young may not have as much to move," he added. But these changing patterns have brought about formation of new kinds of moving firms, "to provide everything from psychological counseling to help family members cope with the trauma of relocation, to no-cost move management firms that perform like travel agents for moving services."
As an apt case in point, Stokes, in the moving business for eight years, is vice president and general manager of Advanced Traffic Services Inc., a nationwide move management firm headquartered in San Juan Capistrano. Formerly, he was Southern California district sales manager for North American Van Lines.