Inflows and outflows of US cities using a U-Haul barometer



Expanding on the U-Haul metric idea in the article "Fleeing Silicon Valley", I gathered costs of moving a household via U-Haul throughout a matrix of cities in the US. The thesis is that moving truck rentals will fairly accurately reflect the supply/demand equation, likely on a near real-time basis, giving us a current indicator of where the inflows and outflows are. This is interesting for a whole host of investment (and personal) themes, such as which direction commercial and residential real estate values will trend in various areas.

I picked 10 cities, which represent top startup locations in the US (a personal bias). To net out differences in travel distance, and to normalize values so that one can quickly compare and see trends, I gathered data for one-way moves in both directions between every one of 10 cities, and then divided the price of source-to-destination by the price of destination-to-source. What remains are ratios which show which way people are likely moving. The results are very enlightening.

The winners (highest in-flows 1st): Austin, Raleigh, Boulder, DC, Seattle.

The losers (highest out-flows 1st): LA, Silicon Valley, NY, San Diego.

Worth noting, Boston was nearly net-neutral, but it's interesting where it's picking up people from in droves (Silicon Valley, LA and San Diego). Most cities are poaching from California. This can't be a good thing for California's urban real estate markets, municipal bond ratings, nor for its state income tax receipts -- right at a time when revenues are falling short of projections.

Disclosure: no positions