PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — By now many Portlanders have heard that Oregon is the top moving destination in the country, according to the annual survey compiled by United Van Lines.
Approximately 70 percent of those who move to Oregon settle in the Portland metro area, which is why outsiders are widely blamed for driving up housing costs here. Portland has the 12th highest rents in the country and the average home price topped $400,000 for the first time in May.
But the owner of a local moving company says far more people are moving within the region every day. They are competing with each other for available apartments and houses — driving up prices even without competition from recent immigrants.
“It’s not earth-shattering to say the housing market is heating up. A lot of the time, it’s renters moving up to better rentals, or renters buying their first homes, or homeowners moving up to bigger homes because they’re having kids,” says Ben Hoskins, who owns You Move Me Portland, the local franchise of a national company that specializes in relatively short moves.
Hoskins owns another franchise closely tied to residential moves, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, which hauls away unwanted household items. According to Hoskins, business at both companies has increased substantially in recent years as the economy has recovered.
“Our business has tripled since 2009,” he says, noting that his company moved more than 900 households during the first three months of the year alone.
One customer was Dave Riveness, who recently moved from a house within walking distance of downtown to an even closer location. Riveness says he and his girlfriend both owned their own small houses. But with home prices climbing, they decided the time had come to sell them and live together in a larger house.
“We looked around for quite a bit before we found one we wanted near Providence Park, and we bought it. Then we put our homes on the market. They’re both in escrow now and everything should be final in a month or so,” Riveness says.
Although Riveness moved within the city core, Hoskins says a large share of his company’s moves are taking place away from downtown and close-in neighborhoods. He says North Portland and the east side are especially hot these days because housing costs are more affordable. The same is true for cities outside Portland, like Beaverton and Vancouver.
“There’s definitely a cohort that wants to live in the city and take advantage of public transit and walkable neighborhoods. But a larger number are looking for good school districts, back yards, and making their dollars go farther. People are even moving from Vancouver to Longview these days,” Hoskins says.
Moving on up
Federal statistics confirm Hoskins’ observations. U.S. Census figures also show that well over half of the people who moved to Multnomah County between 2009 and 2013 came from within the region or the rest of the state.
According to the Census, the population of the county grew from 726,855 to 766,135 people during those five years — an increase of 39,280 residents. The vast majority, 26,249 people, moved from within the state, and most didn’t travel very far.
Between 2009 and 2013, a total of 18,266 people moved to the county from one of the other six counties in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro region, as defined by the federal government. The largest number, 7,561 people, moved from Washington County. The second-largest number, 7,281 people, moved from Clackamas County. Clark County contributed 2,506 people. And 918 people moved from Columbia, Yamhill and Skamania counties.
During that same time, 8,272 people moved to the county from the rest of the state. The largest number, 1,769 people, came from Lane County. The second-largest number, 1,396 people, came from Marion County. The rest of the state contributed 5,107 people.
Census figures also show that more than 10 percent of Multnomah County’s residents move to another location within the county every year. The 82,500 who moved within the county in 2014 was far more than the 51,135 people who moved to the entire state that year.
Although some of those moves are people who are being displaced by rent increases, You Move Me Portland co-owner Robert Christensen says most of their customers are moving up.
“Right now, people are moving into larger apartments or their dream homes,” says Christensen, whose nearly 30 employees are currently doing up to five moves a day, and sometimes more.
More coming than going
Oregon was the top moving destination in the country for the third year in a row in 2015, according to United Van Lines’ annual study of its interstate moves.
The moving company’s study found that almost 70 percent of its moves involving Oregon were people moving to the state, compared to just 30 percent moving out.
The next-highest state in 2015 was North Carolina, where a little more than 62 percent of the moves were into the state and just under 38 percent were out of it. The percents were similar for Vermont, the No. 3 destination.
The company says the number of people moving to Oregon has increased by 10 percent in the past six years.
“We are seeing people drawn for lifestyle issues: more green space and looking for a lower cost of living,” says Melissa Sullivan, director of marketing communications at UniGroup, which operates United Van Lines.
Oregon was the No. 1 state in 2015 by percentage of moves, not number of moves. Of the 123,000 moves in the study, 4,173 were to Oregon. But some larger states drew a lot more people. The biggest gainer was California, with 26,715 moves, followed by Texas, with 20,694 moves, and North Carolina, with 18,056 moves.
The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner.