Newly published data by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates La Plata County’s largest pool of migrants continues to come from other parts of Colorado and nearby states.
The American Community Survey for 2010 through 2014 reflects the number and origin of people who moved to or from La Plata County on average over the five-year period.
The census found that most people who moved to La Plata County, in order from most to least, came from other Colorado counties, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington state and Illinois. Out-of-state newcomers averaged 3,050 per year.
An average of 1,608 moved to La Plata County from other Colorado counties, including Mesa, Jefferson, El Paso and Denver counties, while 6,314 relocated from within La Plata County.
An average 4,788 moved in from in state, out of state and abroad.
Conversely, an average 4,064 left La Plata County, the highest numbers heading to other counties in Colorado, including Arapahoe, Denver, Mesa and Montezuma, as well as Oregon, New Mexico and, unusually, to Virginia.
The census bureau also published national, regional and state-level data on American movers collected from 2015. Statewide, 33,487 moved to Colorado from abroad last year, 29,029 from California, 25,268 from Texas, 11,398 from Illinois and 10,254 from Arizona. In the previous two years, people moved from California and Texas in almost equal numbers.
Also in 2015, 21,157 left Colorado for California, and 22,587 migrated to Texas.
The inflow statistics aren’t surprising to La Plata County’s housing professionals.
“All of these states have historically been active areas for relocation to Durango,” broker Don Ricedorff said. “The out-of-state buyers from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California have historically been our ‘gateways’ to Durango, and of course, it is our desirable lifestyle. The National Association of Realtors has named the second home market and the baby boom early retirement market as “the amenity-driven market,’ with buyers looking for lifestyle.”
Durango Mountain Realty’s clientele in the Purgatory resort have traditionally been almost exclusively buyers looking for second homes.
“Our geographic buyer base is made up mainly from those with discretionary income who can get here within a day’s drive – either for a ski vacation or to get out of the heat of the summer,” managing broker Heather Erb said. “Texas, Arizona and New Mexico over the years are our strongest markets, but the regions change from time to time depending on which economies are doing better, resulting in the discretionary income a second-home purchase requires. Austin, for example, was a strong buyer market for us two years back, and Albuquerque has been more recently.”
Data sets from previous years show similar trends in migration, and inflow and outflow from the greater Southwest is attributed to changes in the oil and gas industry and the economic downturn.
“I would be willing to bet that a big number of people moving from Arizona and California did so in 2010 and 2011, as we saw less and less people from those states moving here as we got deeper into the recession, as those were some of the hardest-hit markets in the country and people had a tough time selling their homes in those areas, so they were mostly staying put unless they had to relocate due to jobs or for family reasons,” real estate agent Todd Sieger said.
“However, the recession had very little effect on the Texas economy since oil and gas boomed during those years. I would say that Texans almost single-handedly kept our second-home market going during the recession, as most of our second-home buyers prior to the recession were from Arizona and California. And with those markets being down as they were, very few people from those states were buying second homes here or anywhere else.
“We saw more motivated sellers in our area, especially in the higher end market, so buyers from Texas were able to come here and buy properties at a significant discount from what they were selling for at the peak of our market, pre-recession,” Sieger said.
On a national scale, the data reflects the percentage of Americans moving in a one-year period fell to a record low of 11.2 percent this year.
Of those who moved, 42.2 percent surveyed said the move was for housing-related reasons, such as wanting to upgrade their house or apartment. Family-related reasons prompted 27.4 percent of moves, employment reasons prompted 20.2 percent and other reasons were reported as the cause of 10.2 percent of the moves.