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Where did Cincinnati-area transplants come from in 2020?

Bill Rinehart

Pandemic lockdown restrictions and health concerns meant some people had to reconsider their housing and lifestyle. Those who once lived in larger, more crowded cities sought refuge in smaller, more sprawling areas, including Cincinnati.

Cincinnati (as a metropolitan statistical area) saw 178,076 change of address requests in 2020. Most - about 160,530 - were from people moving from one place to another within the city. But 17,546 of those requests were from further away.

Commercial Real Estate Services, an investment firm and real estate company, reported that nationally, major urban metros saw 15% more people move out in 2020 than in 2019. It gathered its data from the United States Postal Service, which compiles aggregate data of change of address requests, including temporary requests.

Most were from nearby Ohio cities Dayton and Columbus, with 4,176 and 1,554 address change requests respectively. Aside from in-state cities though, most of the transplants came from the New York area, as well as urban New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Chicago metropolitan area.

According to the data, Cincinnati saw 1,011 New York of those households move to the city, over 607 the year before. Chicago metropolitan area residents accounted for 757 moves, slightly more than 698 the year before.

There were more net move-ins from those major metropolitan areas than from Louisville/Jefferson County and the Lexington-Fayette areas of Kentucky, with more than 700 transplants from each area.

Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim in California lost 630 households to the Cincinnati area, more than the 500 reported the year before.

When it comes to the total number of new out-of-state Cincinnati households, Florida accounts for the most new residents in 2020 with 2,649 change of addresses. That's down from 2019 when 2,893 new households were from the state.

CBRE says the difficulty of urban living during the pandemic and young professionals' ability to work remotely, as well as young adults' childless lifestyles are largely responsible for the shift.

But locals shouldn't be too worried about the Greater Cincinnati area losing its Midwest charm.

The data says there were 17,707 address changes from people moving to Hamilton County from less than 100 miles away. People who moved to the city from more than 500 miles away accounted for only 4,568 address changes.

Winnetka, Illinois, move-in rate was among the highest in the country, doubling to 395 in just one year during the pandemic. Of the 30 largest U.S. metros, Sacramento saw the largest number of net move-ins with many people flooding to the area from San Francisco.

CBRE said in the report it's unclear whether these pandemic moves will be permanent, though lower rent and property values in major metro areas will likely entice at least some people back to major cities.

Where do people from Cincinnati area move to when they leave? Aside from within the Tri-State area, people are headed to more warmer climates in Florida, Texas and California.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.