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What Homebuyers Need to Know About Relocating to a High-Risk Area

While buying a home can be frustrating, relocating poses much more of a challenge for some Americans, especially in this economy. As more and more areas of the country face increasing climate extremes, a new report from Fors Marsh reveals that those who choose to relocate to high-risk areas differ from the average mover in many ways.

The report brings these "risky movers" to life through six main archetypes based on key demographics, the hazards they are most likely to face, and the prevailing climate change–related opinions in their new community.


The six archetypes are:

  • The Young and Vulnerable: 29% of risky movers. This group, interestingly, is moving to places with the lowest level of concern about climate change impacts. Single, many with young children at home, the people in this group are renting older homes in the middle of the country. They face extreme heat, drought, and floods, and have the fewest resources to cope with the impacts of climate change and the aftermath of natural disasters.
  • Wilting and Worried Out West: 27% of risky movers. This group is moving to the areas with the most concern about climate change and its impacts. The people in this group are all renters who are concentrated in California and face the highest risk of heat waves among all risky movers.
  • The Mortgaged Middle: 25% of risky movers. Housing is a big part of the climate change conversation, and people in this group have financed homes in areas prone to wildfires and other climate-driven events. They are generally middle-aged and married with children who live at home.
  • Fires and Floods on a Fixed Income: 10% of risky movers. This group is moving to areas with lower-than-average concern about climate change and its impacts. The oldest of the risky movers, the people in this group are retirees living alone on a reduced income. They are migrating to socially vulnerable communities that have the highest wildfire risk, second-highest risk of river flooding, and the least resilience to disasters.
  • Affluent and Concerned on the Coast: 5% of risky movers. This group is more concerned than average about the impacts of climate change. Wealthy and middle-aged with children, this group lives in or around major coastal cities and urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles. They are likely to face hurricanes and coastal floods but are highly disaster resilient.
  • Retired and Well-Resourced: 4% of risky movers. These well-off retirees are moving to hurricane-prone coasts and are most likely to experience the largest losses when climate disasters strike.

According to the report, insights into the distinct types of people who choose to move to high-risk areas can be connected to shape public policies, communications, services, and tools that will better protect people who are the most likely to be affected by climate change.

"When it comes to communicating about climate-change risks, there's no one-size-fits-all approach," Fors Marsh's Climate Resilience Director Kristin Murphy said. "These insights can shape public messaging and program designs to account for what these folks care most about, so we can drive risk-informed actions at every level to build a more climate-resilient nation."

To read the full report, including more data, charts, and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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