Extension News

Rural Iowa Movers Say Work Is Most Important Reason for Moving

Community Vitality Center


AMES, Iowa -- Recent movers in rural Iowa said reasons for moving fell into four main categories: work, family, community and housing, according to a study conducted by the Community Vitality Center at Iowa State University.

“The main reason for moving varied by age and type of move,” said Sandra Burke, senior researcher with the Community Vitality Center. “While work-related reasons were the most important factors cited for relocating by those moving into or out of the selected counties and other states, those who moved within the same county said housing was the most important reason for making their recent move,” said Burke, who directed the survey.

“This study allows us to compare people who have moved into Iowa with those who have moved out,” said Burke. The survey was designed to assist community leaders in understanding why people move in rural areas and to identify strategies for attracting and retaining population. 

The study was conducted in 19 selected nonmetropolitan counties in Iowa using a sample of movers identified from a data base of recent movers. There were 737 responses included in the analysis, which represented a 35 percent response rate.

More than a third (37.1 percent) of the respondents who moved into Iowa from other states said work was their most important reason compared to half (50.9 percent) of the respondents who left the state. Work-related factors included job, income, education and retirement.

Respondents coming into Iowa from other states noted “family” as the second most important reason for moving (33.8 percent). Family factors included children, parents, siblings, friends, relationships and health status.

In contrast, those leaving Iowa for other states noted “community reasons” as second (28.9 percent).  Community factors included services, amenities, weather and lifestyle.

“Community factors were important for many respondents, but typically fewer than one-third cited them as their most important reason for moving. However, when respondents gave a second or third reason for moving, community factors were mentioned most frequently,” said Burke.

“Age and life-cycle stage have an impact on why people move,” said Burke.  “Work was cited as the most important factor by half of those younger than age 35 regardless of whether they moved between counties in Iowa or between Iowa and another state. At the same time, nearly half of respondents 70 or older reported family factors as the most important reasons for their recent move,” she said.

Work factors remained the most important type of reason for moving given by respondents up through age 59. Burke noted that, “the transition age group appeared to be the movers age 60-69. Compared with younger groups, work-related motivations for moving declined and family factors increased. For those 60-69, family factors were cited as most important among those who moved into the counties.  For those 60-69 who moved out, work motivations had highest importance.”

“The survey results show that persons moving out of Iowa were predominantly motivated by work factors, with community issues generally being mentioned second most often. For many of these movers, family factors played little role in their reasons for moving with the exception of the youngest and the oldest age groups. In contrast, respondents coming into Iowa had a pattern of moving decisions that was relatively balanced among the three factors of work, family and community,” she said.

Housing was more important for respondents going between counties than for those going between states.  In addition, housing issues played a larger role in the decision of choosing the new location than in the decision to leave the previous place.

For more information contact Sandra Charvat Burke, senior researcher, Community Vitality Center, (515) 294-9307, or visit the Community Vitality Center Web site for the full report and survey: www.cvcia.org .


Contacts :

Sandra Charvat Burke, Community Vitality Center, (515) 294-3000, scburke@iastate.edu

Del Marks, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9807, delmarks@iastate.edu