The Villages in Sumter County, Fla.; Sugar Land, Texas; Statesboro, Ga.; and Hays County and Austin, Texas have a number of things in common-especially their position atop the latest list of places homebuyers would love to live.
A recent ERA Real Estate / HGTV.com survey found that one in three Americans would consider moving to another state in the next one to two years. Members of ERA’s U.S. broker network identified four top “under the radar” housing markets that are benefitting from home buyers relocating from out of state identified by supported by consumer sentiment for self-directed relocations to major move for financial as well as lifestyle considerations, including growing economies, increasing populations and sufficient housing stock
The Villages in Sumter County, Fla., was ranked the fastest growing small town in 2012 by Forbes magazine.
“We are seeing a healthy uptick in people relocating to The Villages,” said broker owner Gus Grizzard of ERA Tom Grizzard, Inc. in Leesburg, Fla. “Internet inquiries are up nearly 30 percent versus last year likely due to an attractive cost of living; the year-to-date average sale price of a single-family home is attractive at $206,000; and, there is great weather and activities to suit a variety of interests.”
Known locally as Florida’s friendliest hometown, The Villages is primarily home to active retirees from around the world attracted to sunshine, premier golf facilities, a leisurely lifestyle and a sense of community. The sociable atmosphere provides comfort and support to residents as they age. But a growing segment of working-age residents who have relocated to take jobs in support of the community is creating a diverse local community.
“The Villages can be equated to Disneyworld for retirees,” said Grizzard. “You are not just buying a house, you are buying a lifestyle enhanced by three town squares where residents can socialize, enjoy restaurants, see a movie – the list goes on.”
“I often say that if you can’t make a living here, you can’t make a living anywhere,” said broker owner Joe Benes of ERA Benes Realty in Sugar Land, Texas. “We are seeing a surge in people relocating to our area driven by the city’s strong focus on economic development and job opportunities in nearby Houston. We even experienced growth in housing sales during the economic downturn – proof of a promising economy here.”
A city in Fort Bend County and the Houston metropolitan area, Sugar Land experienced a 7.2 percent population increase from 2010 to 2012, according to the U.S. Census. Additionally Benes reported that residents enjoy a low cost of living enhanced by many choices when looking for leisure.
“The average sale price of a home in Sugar Land year-to-date is $315,000,” said Benes. “Improved infrastructure, thanks to the Texas Department of Transportation, creates attractive mobility to work and recreation. It only takes 25 minutes to get from Sugar Land to downtown Houston, where you can enjoy cultural offerings and professional sports teams. Also, we are 50 miles from the Gulf Coast where people can visit the beaches. There is plenty to offer in ways of both employment opportunity and personal fulfillment.”
“More and more people are moving to Statesboro for many reasons,” said broker owner Pat Hirsch of ERA Landmark Realty in Statesboro, Ga. “First and foremost, our taxes are really low. And, we are home to Georgia Southern University, which creates jobs and offers sporting, cultural and performing arts events.”
Bulloch County’s population grew 3.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, according to the U.S. Census. “We have a very progressive hospital providing job opportunities and luring the medical community to Statesboro,” said Hirsch. “A great scope of public schools, strong university system and ongoing industry relocation to the region – are further complemented by affordable housing. In fact, the average sale price of a home is $151,330,and in some cases, you can purchase a 3,000-square-foot home for around $240,000.”
When a weekend break from work and schools calls, residents can travel just 50 miles to famed Savannah or drive two hours to Jacksonville, Fla., to stroll the beaches. In essence, people can enjoy those coastal regions with less worry regarding storms, hurricanes, etc. And when sticking close to home, a downtown arts center provides entertainment.
Music lovers and job seekers rejoice! Hays County has it all in terms of employment opportunities – close commutes and nearby Austin – the state capital that also bills itself as the music capital of the world.
“Hays County and the Austin area are headed toward expansion mode with large tech companies moving in and consumer confidence on the rise due to steady growth, rather than rapid growth,” said Brenda Wall, relocation director at ERA Colonial Real Estate in Harker Heights, Texas. “Many people move here from out of state because of the great weather and even greater job opportunities.”
Rest assured, Hays County is not all work and no play. Its close proximity to Austin, home to Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest, means residents can enjoy the best of both worlds. In addition, the area offers scenic parks and many lakes for recreation. According to Wall, there is plenty of open green-space for people and families to enjoy.
“With so much to offer, you may think Hays would be an expensive place to live,” said Wall. “But it’s quite the contrary. You can still get a great deal of property for a decent price. The average single-family home sale price is $283,179.”