Are Rising Temperatures Causing a Shift in U.S. Migration Patterns?

According to a report by moveBuddha, warmer summer days have not led to decreasing populations in the fastest-warming markets. The report discovered that the top 10 fastest-warming U.S. cities have maintained a positive average move-in-to-out ratio of 1.19 year-to-date. Additionally, U.S. Census data reveals that between 2020 and 2022, populations in these top 10 fastest-warming cities increased by an average of 1.24 percent.

Leading the list as the fastest-warming city is Reno, Nevada, experiencing an 11.1-degree Fahrenheit increase in the average summer temperature since 1970. The rising number of hot days hasn’t had a negative impact on the city’s population, which actually rose by 3.5 percent between 2020 and 2022—the largest increase among the 10 cities surveyed by moveBuddha. But like many of the other cities on this list, Reno’s stark rise in temperature is mostly attributable to urban heat island effect, not climate change.

El Paso, Texas, the fifth fastest-warming city, is the exception among the 10 cities, experiencing a 0.2 percent decline in population between 2020 and 2022. Fresno, California, ranked 6th on the list of fastest-warming cities in the U.S., followed by McAllen and Austin, Texas, in the 7th and 8th positions. Tucson, Arizona, and Houston, Texas, tied for the 9th and 10th positions with an average summer temperature change of 4.2 degrees.

Contrary to expectations, moveBuddha’s research indicates that rising temperatures in the fastest-warming cities have had little to no impact on migration. Multifamily data supports this finding, as occupancy rates remain strong in these cities. In the first five cities on the list, all recorded occupancy levels in the mid-90 percent range in the second quarter of 2023.

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A spokesperson from moveBuddha points out that all of these top 10 cities are located in the Sunbelt, West, and Southwest regions, which generally offer a lower cost of living, lower tax burdens, better business climates, and milder winters. It seems that warming temperatures are not negatively affecting migration, at least for now, unless cost becomes a significant factor. This may become a concern as seen in Florida and California, where some property insurers are raising homeowner insurance premiums due to the growing cost of damages from weather events like wildfires and hurricanes.

Other climate change-induced issues, such as water scarcity prevalent in some of the nation’s hottest cities, could potentially trigger heat-related migration. However, as indicated by the moveBuddha report, for the time being, more people are actually relocating to the fastest-warming cities. Evidently, the positive attributes of these towns outweigh the recent increase in temperatures for many U.S. residents.


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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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