The Average Number of Times an American Moves During Their Lifetime

By: Lily Valles Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023

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Discover the economic, social, and environmental impacts of moving in America, and what steps you can take to mitigate the negative effects.

The Average Number of Times an American Moves During Their Lifetime

Moving is a significant event that can have a profound impact on our lives. Whether we’re moving for personal or economic reasons, a move is a major undertaking that requires significant planning and preparation. But how often do Americans move throughout their lifetime, and what impact does frequent moving have on their lives?

In this article, we’ll explore how often and why Americans move. Read on to learn more about the impact of moving, and see how you can make your next move a success.

American Moving: a Brief History

Americans are always on the move. From the earliest settlers to the millions of immigrants that have made the US their home, mobility has been a defining characteristic of the American lifestyle.

In the early years of the United States, people mainly moved for economic reasons. They were searching for new land to farm or better-paying jobs. But, as the country developed, people began to move for other reasons, ranging from social justice and discrimination to better weather and better proximity to friends and family.

The Current State of American Mobility

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves approximately 11.7 times throughout their lifetime. However, this number varies widely depending on factors such as age, income, and marital status.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 move much more frequently than older adults. Folks between 18 and 34 have an average of 3.3 moves under their belts. In contrast, adults aged 65 and over move much less frequently, with an average of 2.4 moves throughout their lifetime.

Times have changed. While Americans used to move for job opportunities, most people nowadays choose to move for personal reasons. Being closer to families and seeking a better quality of life have become major driving forces behind American relocations.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on American mobility. Many people took the chance to re-evaluate their living situations in light of remote work and other changes in the workplace. After all, if you’re going to work from home, why not make your home someplace nice?

The Economic Impact of Moving

Moving isn’t always as cheap as we’d like. In fact, a move can have a huge impact on your finances. Moving for a better-paying job can improve your economic situation, but the costs of a move may set you a little behind the curve.

According to Moving APT, the average cost of a local move (under 100 miles, and within the same state) is approximately $2,300. On the other hand, the average cost of a long-distance move (over 100 miles, or across state lines) is approximately $4,300.

Every move is different. The final price of a move can be even higher for people with larger houses, or folks who are moving across the country.

The price of a move doesn’t just come from hiring movers or renting a moving truck. Chances are, when you’re making a move, you won’t be able to clock in for work. This translates to missed hours at work, and lighter paychecks than usual.

Aside from the basic moving costs and your missed wages, you may also have to pay necessary expenses (such as food and lodging) on your way to your new place.

Moving can be pricey, and it can leave the newly moved in a tight financial situation while they find their feet at their new place. However, finding good deals on movers (and moving for a higher-paying job) can offset these prices.

The Social Impact of Moving

Moving makes an impact on your wallet, but it there’s more to life than money. For many Americans, moving has a huge impact on social well-being. Some Americans move to get closer to family, and other move to get farther away. In either case, it takes a lot of adjustment.

A move is more than just packing your bags and loading up a truck. It involves finding new schools, new work, and new friends. Adjusting to a new community takes a lot of work. Aside from money, building a new social network from scratch is a major hurdle for many Americans who are looking to make a move.

We’re not psychologists, but a move can also have a real impact on your mental health. Studies have shown that moves can increase stress, depression, and anxiety – particularly among children and adolescents. People never realize how much they depend on their daily routine until something major disrupts it.

The Environmental Impact of Moving

In today’s terminally-online, terminally-nervous society, climate change is at the top of many Americans’ news feeds. It seems like every day there’s another story about some new threat to the environment (or old threats to the environment that have been recently rediscovered). Unfortunately, moving can impact the environment as well.

At the end of the day, a move means packing, hauling, unpacking, and cleaning up. The carbon footprint of a move can be significant, and there’s the potential for a lot of waste when you’re dealing with packing supplies.

Fortunately, many movers are aware of the risks. More and more moving companies are switching to fuel-efficient (or electric!) vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint. As for all the packing supplies, many local movers and long-distance movers use recyclable boxes that were made from recycled materials in the first place.

Moving can always be greener. From responsible junk removal services to eco-friendly packaging, moving companies are taking more steps to keep things clean. When you’re shopping for a mover, be sure to ask about their environmental practices. We’re all doing our part, and with some extra effort, we can minimize the impact of our moves on the world around us.

The Ethics of American Mobility

While many Americans these days are looking to move to and from totally new cities and towns, there’s always a few concerns that the locals bring up – and a few concerns voiced by the folks who are moving, too.

Does moving to a new area displace longtime residents? In some cases, yes. But it can also mean becoming part of a new and vibrant community. Does moving impact the environment? Yes, but only if your moving company is irresponsible and doesn’t employ ethical environmental standards.

For many locals, a big concern is whether transplants will just make their hometowns exactly like the places they’re coming from. It’s important to remember that when you move someplace new, that new community is someone’s home – and when you’re in someone’s home, it’s best to be a good guest.

The Future of American Mobility

What does moving look like in the future? Will we have drones to pick up and haul away our heavy stuff? What about automated semi trucks? Like all other industries, the moving field is changing – and so is American mobility.

With housing prices as high as they are, and with remote work becoming more common, many Americans are choosing to move for different reasons than in the past. While our great-grandparents may have moved for jobs and new beginnings, many Americans are fortunate enough to move to save some money or live somewhere scenic.

Younger people may not be buying up houses like they used to a couple of decades ago, but even a simple move to a new apartment can benefit from professional movers. By adjusting environmental practices and leaning into the high-tech side of logistics, best moving companies will be with you every step of the way.

Tips for Making a Move

Planning a move? Here are some tips for moving consciously.

1. Do the Research

Before you even move to a new city or town, read up on the local culture. See whether you’ll be a good fit, and try to look beyond what tourists and travel bloggers are saying.

Do the locals like transplants? Do out-of-towners have a bad reputation? It’s important to know the lay of the land before you commit to moving.

2. Shop Responsibly

When you’re totally sure of where you want to move – and you’re sure that the locals will welcome you with open arms – it’s time to shop for movers. But your responsibilities as a new arrival don’t stop here.

Now’s your chance to reduce the environmental impact of your move. Look into what moving companies have the safest and most ethical practices, and then get in touch to learn more.

3. Get in Good with the Locals

It’s important to make a good impression on your new neighbors, even if being friendly to strangers wasn’t common where you’re coming from. Check out small businesses, and see what the locals like doing.

Remember, you shouldn’t expect your new town to turn into the same place you just left. Respect the local culture, and accept that this is part and parcel of your new home. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your family and friends!

4. Keep an Eye on Your Mental Health

Moving can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to make “day 1 at my new house” as perfect as possible. It’s not gonna happen. Accept that moving day can be a hassle, getting situated in your new home comes with an adjustment period, and that your move isn’t about “day 1”, but all the days that come after it. Remember to breathe, eat, and sleep. We’re all just grown-up babies, anyway.

American Moving FAQs

What is the most common reason Americans move?

Way back in the day, Americans moved for economic reasons. Job opportunities and cost of living adjustments were major factors behind relocations. Nowadays, those economic pressures are just as present, but many more Americans are moving for personal reasons: getting closer to family, friends, the beach, or the breweries.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted American mobility?

COVID-19 changed life for a lot of people. Many Americans got a taste of the good life and decided that working from home was ideal. Remote work and flexible hours increased mobility, and it made more Americans realize that they could move anywhere they wanted while still collecting a decent paycheck.

Is it possible to make a move without negatively impacting the environment?

Fortunately, many moving companies are committed to environmentally-responsible moving. Eco-friendly packing, fuel-efficient trucks, bundling smaller moves together, the list goes on. It’s very possible to make your move without hurting the environment.

How can I move consciously?

Most people don’t think too much about the impact of their move aside from how their move will affect their schedules and their personal lives, so even asking if you can move more consciously is a good start. It’s important to consider whether your new community will welcome you, whether you’ll fit in with the locals, and whether you can improve the community without edging any longtime residents out.

How can frequent moves impact mental health?

Moving is an exciting adventure, but like all things, it’s best in moderation. Frequent moves can impact your mental health by causing feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can also be really difficult (and frustrating) to find your legs in a new place, only to move shortly after. It’s important for humans to have routines, and without some much-needed stability, you could end up stressed, anxious, and even depressed.

Making Your Next Move a Success

Moving can be a challenging process, but it doesn’t have to be a pain. With careful planning, research, and responsible shopping, you can make your relocation a success. Make sure you check out some of our other helpful guides to learn how you can make the most of moving day!