Originally created 06/02/01

Study reveals increase in transient Americans



Patrick Boss spent most of Thursday packing up tools and loading an unwieldy water bed into a moving truck bound for Clarksville, Tenn.

The Fort Gordon soldier, who is relocating to Fort Campbell, said he probably moves once every four years.

"It's part of the job," he said, "We're used to it."

Like many of his neighbors in his Evans subdivision, Mr. Boss rented his house without signing a lease - something he said helps the large number of people in the area who work on base or in one of the area hospitals for a short time before leaving.

"This neighborhood here is kind of a transient neighborhood," Mr. Boss said.

There are millions of transient Americans packing up and moving to new places, according to a study released this week.

Two reports from the Census Bureau showed that 43 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, moved between March 1999 and March 2000. This is was slightly higher than the 15.9 percent who moved the year before.

The reports are not based on data taken from the Census 2000 survey - those migration results will be released sometime next year.

More than half of the people, the study showed, moved because of housing decisions such as wanting to own their own home, pay for a less expensive home or live in a better neighborhood. Another 26 percent of people moved because of family reasons.

Although the smallest segment of the survey moved for work - 16 percent - housing and moving observers in the area said that factor plays a large influence on local residents.

Fort Gordon, numerous hospitals and the Savannah River Site brings soldiers and workers into and out of the Augusta area on a regular basis, said Richard Holmes, the owner of a Ryder moving-trucks station on the corner of 15th and Broad streets.

Working out of the office for the past 33 years, Mr. Holmes said, he has seen thousands of people pack up to relocate. Most of the time, he said, they order trucks for one-way service out of the area.

"This is what we call an outbound market," Mr. Holmes said.

But he added that many people come in who are moving across town to nicer apartments or bigger houses.

According to the Census Bureau study, 56 percent of the people nationwide who settled somewhere new moved within their own county.

"They want to upgrade their livelihood," Mr. Holmes said.

Tim Bird, the executive vice president for the First Bank of Georgia, calls it the "free bedroom affect." Because of current low interest rates, people find they can afford new mortgages for bigger houses and move from a three-bedroom to a four-bedroom house.

"It's a move-up effect," he said, "Rates have definitely, I feel, helped."

Interest rates, which currently hover around 7 percent, were as high as 17.5 percent in the early 1980s, said Larry Miller, the owner and broker of several area Century 21 real estate offices.

During that time, he said, there was less flexibility for people to move around the area. Now, many people renting houses are choosing to buy houses where they can build their own equity.

"For the last 10 years, we've had a good, stable market," he said. "The American dream is to own a home of your own."

Relocation data

Between March 1999 and March 2000, 43.4 million Americans - or 16 percent of the population - moved to a new address.

The South attracted more new residents than any other part of the country. During the one-year period, the region gained 227,000 people.

Older people are less likely to move: One-third of people in their 20s moved, but only 4 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 84 relocated, the study showed.

People with less money are more likely to move: Only 12 percent of households with incomes of more than $100,000 moved during the year, while 21 percent of households making less than $25,000 moved.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227.