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Middle-class movers are heading to these three cities in search of affordability

Jordan Pandy   

Middle-class movers are heading to these three cities in search of affordability
  • Middle-class movers are choosing Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Antonio as top destinations.
  • The Nevada city has an abundance of homes for sale, keeping prices down, and there's no income tax.

Middle-class Americans are increasingly moving out of state to achieve an affordable lifestyle.

They're heading to cities in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Texas, according to a new H&R Block report using 2022 tax data.

The most surprising location on the list: Sin City. It was the second-most popular destination for middle-class movers coming from out of state, the report said.

A realtor on the ground said it's an open secret that Las Vegas is an up-and-coming destination for movers seeking affordable homes and low taxes.

"It's weird to say this out loud, but I feel like Vegas is the new Colorado," real-estate agent Andrew Arevalo, who is licensed in Nevada and Colorado, told Insider. "It has shifted from Denver getting a lot of people from out of town to Vegas. It has now officially taken over."

H&R Block defined middle-class Americans as those with an adjusted median household income between $45,000 and $145,000, based on Pew Research Center guidelines, and used anonymized data from the 4.6 million people who filed taxes with them in that income bracket.

Arevalo said there are currently more than 13,000 homes listed for sale in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, on the MLS.

That abundance of properties is helping to keep home prices low. According to Redfin, the median sales price of a home in Las Vegas in September was $410,000. In Denver, where Arevalo said there's only 4,700 homes for sale in the metro area, it was $568,500.

Denver has been a hot spot for movers attracted by its access to nature, high-quality jobs, safety, and booming cannabis and craft-brewery industries. The city's population increased over 19% between 2010 and 2020, to 715,500. But according to 2022 Census estimates, that's dipped a bit as housing affordability wanes.

Las Vegas' population only grew about 10% between 2010 and 2020, and it's ticked up since, to 656,000, according to Census estimates.

Arevalo said he's now seeing movers, particularly from California, bypass Denver for Las Vegas. Nevada's lack of personal income tax, unlike California and Colorado, is a huge reason people are choosing it.

He added, "At the end of the day, that's all they really care about is their bottom dollar in their pocket."

Arizona and Texas remain popular relocation hot spots

Vegas isn't the only city raking in new residents.

H&R Block found that Phoenix is the No. 1 destination for both in-state and out-of-state middle-class movers in 2022.

"We've got a lot of people moving from California," Phoenix real-estate agent Stephanie K. Dow told Insider.

According to US Census Bureau estimates, 74,000 people moved from California to Arizona between 2021 and 2022. But those fleeing the high cost of living in California have been bringing some of those costs with them to Arizona, Dow said.

The median sales price for a home in Phoenix peaked at $470,000 in May 2022, the same year that middle-class movers chose it as their top destination. During the same month in 2019, that price came in at $261,000.

"Our affordability factor has gone down in the past three to four years," Dow said. "When we had people coming over from California that saw the dollar differently than our Arizona people, they were willing to overpay for places no problem."

Over in Texas, San Antonio ranked as the No. 3 most popular destination for out-of-state relocators, and No. 5 for those in-state, according to H&R Block.

Texas has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic, with California to Texas being the most popular state-to-state relocation route between 2021 and 2022. While cities like Austin saw a surge in home prices, San Antonio has been able to maintain some of its affordability.

"If you were to ask me, I'd still tell you San Antonio's more affordable than most cities in Texas," San Antonio real-estate agent Ricardo "Rico" Riojas, Jr. told Insider.

Riojas detailed a client of his looking to buy a $600,000 house in San Antonio — well above the median of $275,000 — after leaving Austin to get more bang for their buck.

Dow and Riojas agreed that while people are still moving to Phoenix and San Antonio, nothing will top the boom of 2020 and 2021. Arevalo, on the other hand, believes Las Vegas is the next big thing.

"If you're not investing in Vegas, you might regret it," he said. "It's going to be the new LA. I don't even call it Las Vegas anymore. I call it Las Fornia."



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