If there is a theme song for some of today’s outbound migration trends, it could be The Hollies’ “All I Need is the Air That I Breathe” – a new data report by Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN) found that 1.2 million more people moved out of than into metros facing high risk from poor air quality in 2021-2022, more than double the net outflow of the prior two years.
Meanwhile, low risk metros saw 1 million more people move in than out, nearly double the net inflow of the prior two years.
Redfin determined the high-risk metros were concentrated in expensive Western states like California, which has burdened with smoke from massive wildfires in recent years. The median home sale price in high-risk metros was $563,710 as last December, 65% higher than the $341,483 median sale price in low-risk metros.
There are currently about 14 million properties (about 10% of all properties) that are estimated to have at least a week of poor air quality per year due to particle pollution and health (PM2.5) and nearly 6 million of those face at least two weeks. An extreme case is Fresno, California, which is expected to have over two months of poor air quality in a bad year under current environmental conditions.
Furthermore, Redfin cited scientific data noting the number of poor air quality days in the Western part of the country spiked by as much as 477% between 2000 and 2021, in large part due to wildfire smoke.
“Even when homebuyers do consider climate change, poor air quality often isn’t top of mind because it’s not as visibly destructive as hazards like flooding and fires,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “But as the dangers of climate change intensify, we will likely see more people factor air quality and other disaster risks into their decisions about where to settle down.”