4 Reasons Small Move Sizes Are Predicted to Grow in 2024

4 reasons Small move sizes by renters are predicted to grow in 2024 mostly because the ratio of rental moves and homeowner moves changed.

Small move sizes by renters are predicted to grow in 2024 mostly because the ratio of rental moves and homeowner moves changed.

By Jessica Share

A full 50% of moves in 2024 will be renters with small move sizes, predicts one report based on moving-company request trends.

Looking ahead to the warm-weather moving season’s busiest months, the report notes that “people who own homes aren’t moving. Only renters are moving. And renters have a lot less stuff.

So, in 2023, we saw the average move size drop by about 30%. Mostly because the ratio of rental moves and homeowner moves changed. So, we’ll continue to see rental moves make up a big portion of 2024 moves.”

The report‘s predictions are based on user behavior — when movers submit requests, interest in those destinations and sizes of moves are logged. If the trend continues, rentals will reign, and small-size movers will take a larger and larger percentage of overall moves this year.

Why? And what does that mean? We’ll dig into some factors we think are behind the trend.

What are the Reasons Behind the Small-Move Rental Boom?

1. It’s Easier to Move a Rental Household

Typically, renters have fewer items to move than owners. That makes them more likely to relocate than owners, who might have decades’ worth of possessions tucked into garages, basements, and attics. It makes renters more mobile than owners.

Owners have social and psychological reasons to stay put, too. They may be ensconced in their communities, from schools to places of worship and city councils.

In fact, one study showed renters were three times more likely than owners to have moved recently.

But that doesn’t explain why this year’s renters are taking an even larger share of the pie. Or does it?

2.  The Current Job Market Favors Relocators

When it’s easier to move without having to find a new job, more and more renters who are thinking about relocation are likely to jump in.

Long-distance moves continued to accelerate through 2023 as job-seekers looked outside their own cities in search of affordable housing and better quality of life. The remote-work renaissance during pandemic shut-downs made that possible, and it shows no signs of slowing years after lockdowns.

Some even say that return-to-office “died” in 2023, so workers may be feeling bolder that their jobs will accommodate new moves.

Because renters can pick up and move more easily with smaller move sizes, more small-move relocators get in on the trend.

3.  Interest Rates Are High

At the same time, large move sizes (belonging to more homeowner moves) are stagnating.

While current interest rates can’t compete with their high 1990s counterparts, they’re still high compared to anything prospective homeowners have seen in the last two decades. That’s put a damper on home buying and it has encouraged owners who are moving to consider renting in their new location until rates come down.

With some speculation that this could happen by the end of the year, homeowners are more likely to put off moving for one more year, while renters face no such obstacles. They can move now, and many are.

4. Pricing Pressures

Recent inflation on everything from food to consumer goods, coupled with an ongoing housing shortage that’s been driving prices upward, has put pressure on renters to move. According to one survey, 56% of renters said they felt pressure to move in order to seek relief from increasing rents.

And, as prices rise, renters who have a mobility advantage can look outside their home cities for a discount. With remote jobs, they’re even more likely to do so.

The result? Renters are less likely than ever before to ask themselves if lower-rent regions are “worth it.” Of course they are! They can increasingly keep their jobs anywhere in the country while saving more — and maybe even increasing the likelihood that they become homeowners in the future.

In a world where renters can work just as much, but save more and live larger in a potentially safer, cleaner location closer to nature, why wouldn’t they?

What Does the Rental Move Boom Mean for Renters?

More moves, more renters, and smaller move sizes?

Is that positive or negative? As housing transactions fall, demand for rental units necessarily rises, benefitting landlords. That small-size rental moves are grabbing a bigger share of the moving pie also predicts strong demand for rental properties, rising rates and competition for units.

However, there are benefits for renters that come with the trend toward smaller move sizes:

  • Focus on tenant satisfaction: As landlords try to keep down the high turnover that comes from more moves, they’re more likely to seek out stable tenants who they feel will stay long-term. That means more focus on tenant satisfaction and retention, with more responsive property management, on-point maintenance, and timely communication.
  • Greater flexibility: More small moves and higher mobility may pressure unit owners to offer more flexible lease terms, as renters increasingly value the freedom to move. Landlords can attract a broader pool of tenants when they offer more flexibility in housing terms.
  • Amenities rule: Tenants will be increasingly able to seek out properties near transportation or with lifestyle amenities from fishing ponds to crystal lagoons, car-free thoroughfares, and more. After all, they’re often moving to increase their quality of life. Appealing to these renters may mean the market increasingly bends toward differentiating their properties and making them lifestyle destinations.
  • Moving becomes more about location, location, location: Renters may find it more difficult to move to neighborhoods in high demand for their high quality-of-life amenities, access to culture, and accessible transportation. These hot spots should see increasing applications for new moves.

Small Moves Will Reign in 2024

While some landlords fear a rental market crash in 2024, the reality is far more nuanced. In fact, demand for rental housing stands to rise, with prices predicted to increase 1.5% in 2024. New supply is actually putting the brakes on the rental market, not a lack of movers.

Landlords can take heart from moveBuddha’s data that shows an increase in the market share of small-size moves, as they predict high move intent from renters throughout the 2024 moving season. But renters have plenty to celebrate, too.

The biggest takeaway?

The era of moving to “Zoom towns” is not over, as more and more renters recognize that it’s not the time to buy, and that they won’t lose their existing jobs if they opt for new rental digs. Renters who can harness the demand for these moves stand to gain in 2024.

About the author:

Dr. Jessica Share is a former academic with a Ph.D. in philosophy who loves researching issues in economics, education, and relocation. Her writing specializes in data-driven storytelling that explores new insights.

photo credit Franck-Boston via istockphoto

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