Chicagoans Moving Out of Chicago at Increased Rate During COVID-19 Pandemic

Whether it’s COVID-related, a work-from-home lifestyle, or social unrest downtown, Chicago residents are leaving the city.

We closely examined 39,000 moves into and out of Chicago from March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020, and learned the following:

  • Nationally, measures taken by local, state, and national authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 materially reduced the ability of many Americans to relocate in the early months of 2020. Updater’s data indicates that nationwide move volume fell 32% below seasonality-expected levels beginning the week of March 16, 2020, and consistent with the first shelter-in-place orders.
  • For the first time in four years, we calculated more outbound moves from Chicago than inbound moves to Chicago. Moves leaving Chicago increased 19% year-over-year, from 2019 to 2020 during the same time period.
  • From March to September 2020, moves from Chicago to elsewhere in Illinois (other than Chicago) increased by 55% year-over-year. This data supports that people did leave Chicago for the city suburbs at a higher rate than in 2019.
  • Updater’s average move distance is 11 miles. During the pandemic, the top three states people moved to, from Chicago, were all moves significantly greater than 11 miles: to California, Florida, and Texas. Here’s a closer look at where Chicagoans moved.

For a more personal dive into the trends, the Chicago Tribune weaved Updater patterns with personal stories in an article titled, “Why are Chicagoans moving away during the pandemic? As study suggests outbound migration is spiking, we asked them.” Hear from 10 people who moved to or from Chicago during the pandemic in the full article here.