It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“The share of Americans who move their homes in a year has reached a record low. … From spring 2010 to spring 2011, just 11.6 percent of the people moved residences, the lowest rate since the government began keeping track of migration in 1948.” (“American Migration Reaches Record Low“ ; New York Times, 11/15/2011)
A natural assumption these days is that it’s getting harder and harder to make friends because people are moving more than ever. We’re a transient society, and with that transience comes the seemingly constant need to make new pals. But research says otherwise. We’re still moving, sure, but the census shows we’re moving less than ever before.
According to The Times, “The difference between [the 2010] rate and the 2009 rate of 12.5 percent was not statistically significant, but it was a far cry from its heights in the mid-20th century. From 1951-52, for example, 20.3 percent of Americans moved.”
And perhaps it’s that fact that’s making new friendships so hard. When I moved to Chicago, I felt like everyone who lived here was from here (according to the census, 59% of Americans live in the state where they were born). They already had social networks from growing up and from their Big Ten school, and didn’t seem anxious to grow those out. (I went to a Big Ten school myself, but for whatever reason my besties all moved to the coasts.) At least I wasn’t moving to Louisiana, where 78.8 percent of residents were born there, or Michigan (76.6 percent), Ohio (75.1 percent) or Pennsylvania (74 percent).
This doesn’t mean there aren’t other transplants in your city, even if you just relocated to New Orleans. Just fewer of them. For me, one of the most successful friend-making methods was tracking down other Chicago newbies. When I first moved here, I thought I wanted to find local friends to fold me into their clique and show me all the best restaurants and boutiques. But as soon as I started “officially” searching, I learned that transplants band together. We all want new friends, and are willing to do the work to maintain those friendships.
And if you’re a Californian moving to Texas, or a New Yorker retiring to sunny Florida, you’re in luck.Check out this list of the most common migrations in that 2010-2011 time frame:
- California to Texas (68,959 movers)
- New York to Florida (55,011)
- Florida to Georgia (49,901)
- California to Arizona (47,164)
- New Jersey to Pennsylvania (42,456)
- New York to New Jersey (41,374)
- California to Washington (39,468)
- Texas to California (36,582)
- Georgia to Florida (35,615)
- California to Nevada (35,472)
Are you surprised to hear that people are moving less, not more? As a transplant, do you find it easier to befriend locals or other new kids? Do you think the decreased moving rates is what makes it harder to make new pals?
Hey Chicago! I’ll be at Open Books in next Thursday, March 22 at 7 PM. It will be a reading from MWF Seeking BFF with an eye toward introducing local readers looking for new friends. Please come! I’d love to see you there.