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Charleston is No. 1 moving destination in U.S., study says; Columbia, Greenville in top 10

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Charleston is the top moving destination in the U.S., according to a new report. Above is the growing Cane Bay Plantation housing development in Berkeley County, part of the Charleston metro area. File/Staff

A new study shows South Carolina's three major metro areas are among the top 10 moving destinations in the U.S. with Charleston coming in at No. 1.'s "Top Moving Destinations" analysis shows people from Charlotte, Atlanta and New York are flocking to or are interested in moving to the Lowcountry, based on metro areas that received the most out-of-state views on the real estate website during the April through June quarter of 2019.

The study found that people are moving from larger metro areas that cost a lot more to medium-size markets where housing is relatively more affordable, has plenty of jobs and large baby boomer populations are present.

Also on the list, in descending order, are Boise, Ida.; Honolulu; Columbia; Fort Myers, Fla.; Portland, Maine; Sarasota, Fla.; Greenville; Tucson, Ariz.; and Las Vegas.

Seven of the top 10 moving destinations attracted non-local buyers looking at homes with median prices 3 percent to 34 percent less expensive than their home markets.

The destinations are not necessarily cheap. Overall, they are 16 percent higher than the national median of $315,000. But when compared to home prices in their current metro areas, people feel like it's a great bargain. For instance, Boise's median listing price of $372,500 looks more attractive compared to Los Angeles's $766,800 and Salt Lake City's $434,900.

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The promise of high-paying jobs amid lower housing costs is also a draw. The top 10 destinations have an average unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, which is lower than the national average.

The overall tax burden in eight of the top 10 destinations is also lower than the national average of 8.6 percent. Charleston, Columbia and Greenville come in at 7.6 percent, according to the study.

Also, most of the destinations are in sunny locales, providing an escape for snowbirds and retirees. Nearly 20 percent of those moving to the top 10 sites were 65 years old or older. That compares to 16.2 percent nationally. Cities in Florida and Arizona topped the list.

"The fact that the majority of the metros on the list are hot spots for retirees signals a shift in boomer preferences from the expensive cities where they built their careers to the more easy-going feel of vacation communities," said George Ratiu, the website's senior economist. "Some of them may be initiating the purchase of their retirement home as a second home, while others may be purchasing it in their post-career stage of life."

About 8 percent of homes sold in the top 10 destinations are secondary residences, compared to the national average of 2.7 percent.

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Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.

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