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Abortion, marijuana laws play a role in relocation decisions

Still, affordability and good schools are paramount, Redfin study finds

Over the past few years, politics has become an increasing polarizing subject, so it should come as no surprise that it is influencing recent homebuyers’ decisions of where they want to live.

The passage of the so-called “heartbeat bill” in Texas and similar laws in other states, access to legal and safe abortions has become a major concern for some recent movers. About one-in-seven people who recently moved said they would not live in a place where abortion is fully legal, according to a Redfin report released this week. However, roughly one-in-eight people surveyed would only live somewhere abortion was fully legal, illustrating just how divided people are on this issue.

The Redfin survey was conducted in August 2021 and collected data from 1,023 people who had relocated to a new metropolitan area since March 2020.

In total, the survey found that 40% of respondents said they would prefer to live in a place where abortion was fully legal, while 32% said they would prefer not to.

Due to the increase in work flexibility stemming from the pandemic, interest in relocating has risen drastically over the past 18 months, as Americans are able to prioritize affordability and proximity to family. Pre-pandemic, 26% of Redfin users were looking to move to a different metro area, this percentage rose to an all-time high of 31.5% in early 2021, and while it dropped off to 30.1% in July and August, it is still a considerable increase.

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“People take the politics of a place into consideration when deciding where to move, but the truth of the matter is that other factors including housing affordability and access to jobs and schools take priority,” Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist, said in a statement. “Oftentimes this means someone will move from a blue state to a red state (or vice versa), but choose a home in a neighborhood where most people hold the same political views as they do. Austin—a liberal Texas enclave that’s attracting scores of left-leaning folks from pricier coastal cities—is just one example.”

Abortion is hardly the only issue recent homebuyers took into consideration when relocating. Nearly half (49%) of respondents expressed a desire to live somewhere with anti-discrimination laws related to gender and sexual orientation, while 23% said they would prefer not to.

Over the past few months this has become an increasingly hot issue. In the first quarter of 2021 roughly half of all U.S. states introduced more anti-trans bills than the total number introduced in all of 2020. These bills include laws that would ban trans athletes from school sports and make it a criminal offense to seek gender affirming care for trans children.

Other issues driving recent movers’ choice in metro area, according to Redfin, were voter protection laws and legal marijuana. The majority of respondents (55%) had a positive view on living in a place with strong voting rights protection and/or easy vote-by-mail. This is far greater than the 16% of respondents who had a negative view on the issue. On the issue of marijuana legality, 46% of recent movers said they wanted to live somewhere with legal recreational marijuana use and 22% said they did not want to live in a metro area recreational marijuana is legal.

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