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People priced out of Austin and Orlando are moving to these cheaper cities


Orlando experienced a 2.7% bump in population — nearly 8,000 new residents — between 2020 and 2022, census data shows. The Austin metropolitan area similarly grew 2.7% in 2021 and 2022, adding 63,000 people, according to the city of Austin.

But with all those new residents came a surge in home prices.

In Austin, the median sales price jumped from $400,000 in January 2020 to nearly $524,000 today, according to data from real-estate site Redfin. Meanwhile, Orlando saw a jump from $250,000 to $400,000 over the same timeframe, Redfin found.

Some Austin and Orlando residents are realizing they have to leave to find homes they can afford, according to a recent analysis of change-in-address data from John Burns Research and Consulting.

People are leaving Orlandofor Lakeland, Florida, a city about one-third the size and just over an hour away, and Austin for ruralKilleen, Texas. In 2021, 1,607 households moved from Orlando to Lakeland, while 250 households left Austin for Killeen, John Burns said in its analysis, published March 5.

The primary reason is affordability, Austin real-estate agent Lisa Copeland told Business Insider. Buyers exhausted by the pandemic-fueled spike in prices are now searching for quieter cities that didn’t experience the same bump where their dollars go farther.

“We didn’t see the same spiking of prices in the outer areas of the city,” Copeland said. “They’re far enough out that they fall into an affordable range.”

Lakeland, a city of just over 115,000 residents, might not have the same number of bars and restaurants as 300,000-person Orlando, but it boasts an important Central Florida amenity, said local real-estate agent Jordan Prais.

“It’s still only 25 minutes to Disney,” Prais told Business Insider.

The main reason Lakeland attracts movers from Orlando, though, is its relative affordability, he added. The median home sales price in Orlando sits at $400,000, while Lakeland’s is closer to $295,000, according to Redfin.

“It’s purely the price,” Prais said.

For some buyers, it’s also a shift to a quieter lifestyle, away from Orlando’s thriving theme park andnightlife scene. Many movers may be looking to start a family, Prais said. Home to the Florida Children’s Museum as well as kid-friendly hikes and nature walks, Lakeland offers a different pace than Orlando, he added.

“It’s not the best place to be if you’re 24 looking to take on the night,” he explained.”But if you’re 34, looking at raising kids, it’s a little bit better.”

Austinites are similarly trading bustling downtown amenities for a slower-paced scene.

Killeen, Texas, at around 100,000 residents and 1/10th the size of Austin, is still within an hour’s drive for those who need to commute downtown.

Copeland says Killeen, which didn’t experience the same “COVID spikes” in home prices as Austin and some other parts of Texas, has remained an oasis of affordability.

“Killeen is a great landing spot,” Copeland told Business Insider. “It sits on the I-35 corridor and still has great access to Austin.”

Home to Army post Fort Cavazos, formerly Fort Hood, Killeen is also known for its diverse population and family-friendly appeal, according to the quality-of-life ranking site Niche.com.

Copeland said many healthcare workers moved to Killeen after increased prices drove them out of Austin.

“It’s become a spot for people that really, really just want homeownership,” she said.



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