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People magnet: DFW area attracted more out-of-state transplants than any other metro area in 2021

Cars line a Dallas highway at rush hour.
LM Otero
The Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to attract new residents from other parts of the United States.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has long attracted newcomers to Texas. In 2021 — even in the midst of a pandemic — that trend continued.

Folks from other states flocked to the region in 2021. In fact, it was the most popular destination, according to a new report.

“Dallas stood out as the metro area with the most net, inbound, interstate moves of any area in the country,” said Jeff Tucker, a housing economist for the real estate company Zillow.

The real estate company partnered with Allied Van Lines, a moving company, to identify trends in state-to-state relocations across the country.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has long been a people magnet. More than one million people moved here over the last decade, making it the fastest growing large metropolitan area in the U.S.

“It’s a major migration destination. It attracts a lot of people moving in,” Tucker said.

Charlotte; Sarasota, Florida; Nashville and Tampa rounded out the top five destinations for interstate moves. Last year, Austin and Phoenix were in the top five, but the two cities became significantly less affordable over 2020 and they fell down the list this year.

One theme that was consistent in the data: People are moving out of expensive housing markets into places that are more affordable.

DFW was the top destination for people moving out of Los Angeles and San Diego. Chicago was the Number Two origin for people moving to North Texas.

Dallas-Fort Worth’s real estate is becoming increasingly less affordable. Since the beginning of 2021, home prices in the area have risen by a jaw-dropping 24%.

But Californians relocating to Texas is just one of several factors driving up home prices. Around 80% of people buying new homes in Dallas-Fort Worth are moving from elsewhere within the state, according to Luis Torres, a housing economist at the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center.

It’s just that there are more people overall looking to buy houses each year as the population increases, and homebuilding hasn’t kept pace.

“I think the lack of supply has been major issue, and we saw that before the pandemic,” Torres said.

The pandemic pushed it into overdrive, Torres said. Many North Texans saw their finances improve, noticed low mortgage rates and wanted more space at home for a home office or two.

Got a tip? Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Email Christopher at .You can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.

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Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.