Thursday, April 11, 2024

Philadelphia’s Urban-to-Suburban Migration Hits a Three-Year Streak

By Brenda Nguyen Costar

The latest U.S. Census Bureau data reveals demographic shifts within the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area. While the overall region added more than 3,400 new residents between July 2022 and July 2023, closer analysis uncovers an urban-to-suburban migration trend.

Despite overall regional growth, the City of Philadelphia experienced another year of a shrinking population. The city's population declined by 1% in 2023, translating to roughly 16,300 residents for the third consecutive year, returning its population of 1.55 million to 2012 levels. This trend mirrors national population trends, reflecting a pandemic-induced migration from major urban centers such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

While not exclusive to Philadelphia, a significant portion of former Pennsylvanians have relocated to other states such as Florida, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and California.

Regionally, this urban out-migration has been offset by robust growth in the surrounding suburbs. The South New Jersey suburbs saw the most significant in-migration totals. Collectively they saw a 0.5% population growth in 2023, followed by Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs at 0.3% growth. This suggests a growing preference for suburban living, driven by factors such as the cost of living, increased space, public safety, and the evolving work-from-home landscape.

Specific suburban counties showed particularly strong growth. Montgomery County in Pennsylvania led the region in adding nearly 3,700 new residents, reflecting a 0.4% increase. New Castle County in Delaware followed closely behind, welcoming over 3,330 new residents—a solid 0.6% year-over-year growth.

As a growing number of residents are opting for suburban life over urban living, the suburbs will continue to appeal to businesses, developers, and investors. This trend has already played out, as the suburbs have already seen stronger rent performance across all property types except offices in recent years.

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