Real State

Where Do People Stay in Their Homes the Longest?

As if it weren’t difficult enough to find a home to buy these days, a new study reveals that more than a third of all American homeowners plan to stay in their current homes forever.

Researchers at This Old House analyzed data from the American Community Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau to find which states and cities had the longest-tenured homeowners. They also surveyed 1,008 homeowners about their future living plans.

Among states, long-term tenure topped out in Hawaii, where 36 percent of homeowners have been under the same roof for 24 years or more. New York was next, with about 35 percent of homeowners staying put during the same period. Do high home prices in both states have something to do with it? It’s possible: If you’ve been in a high-value home for a long time, you’re likelier to have lower housing costs now because you bought at a lower price. You may even have paid off your mortgage — and you probably don’t want to start again at current rates.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, generally less expensive states, had similarly long housing tenures. The metro area with the longest housing tenure was Johnstown, Pa., where about half of homeowners have owned their home for 24 years or more.

Arizona, Nevada and Florida topped the list of short-tenure states, defined as those with the largest share of homeowners who have owned their homes for five years or less. Retirees, known to relocate for their golden years, could be driving this result. All three states are popular retirement havens that don’t tax Social Security payments. On the metro level, Jacksonville, N.C., had the greatest share of short-tenure owners — about half of homeowners have owned for five years or less.

The most significant factor determining housing tenure could simply be age. Older people tend to have lived in their homes longer, and are more likely to plan on staying put, according to the survey portion of the study: 54 percent of baby boomers indicated that they hoped to stay in their current homes forever. From there, the percentages decreased in neat generational order, with 38 percent of Gen-Xers, 33 percent of millennials and 14 percent of Gen-Zers declaring they never wanted to move.

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