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Seattle skyline
The Seattle skyline. (Via Andy777 / Bigstock)

Where you live and where you’d prefer to live can often be opposing entities, especially if where you live isn’t an attractive location for job growth, for instance.

A new study by Zillow sheds light on some of the most popular housing markets in the United States — including tech epicenters like Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and Austin — and whether search trends demonstrate outsiders’ desire to get into those cities as well as whether those who currently live there are looking to get out.

When it comes to the Pacific Northwest, the boom is well documented and its effects on Seattle are certainly felt by those who have searched for a place to buy or rent or tried to drive across town at rush hour. Competition is fierce for new recruits among the biggest of the tech giants — such as Amazon and Microsoft — and the smallest of startups. And with an influx of Silicon Valley companies firmly positioning themselves in the mix, it’s only getting more crowded, be it at an open house or in a restaurant or on a roadway.

Portland
What’s up, Portland? (Photo via Radworld)

But has the quality of life in Seattle suffered enough to drive more people to look for housing away from the Emerald City? According to Zillow’s analysis, the answer is no. When it comes to a category defined as “many incoming views, few outgoing views,” Portland and Seattle lead the way as places where residents seem to want to do their real estate browsing without ditching town altogether.

Homes in Portland get more page views from outside the area than 94 percent of other markets, while just 29 percent of views originating in Portland are of homes outside of the area, Zillow says.

Jacksonville, Fla., Fresno, Calif., and Denver are the other three cities in the top five of that category. (To run its analysis, Zillow looked at page views of for-sale and unlisted homes to determine places where people are shopping for real estate across the county, and where they are searching from.)

The maps below show where your Seattle neighbor is looking to go and who might be looking at your neighbor’s house.

Those looking to move are most likely trying to stay in Seattle. If not, they’re checking out Portland three hours to the south, or being blinded by the sunshine of far-flung places like Los Angeles and Phoenix.

(Via Zillow)
(Via Zillow)

Fellow Seattleites are the biggest percentage of searchers checking out your neighbor’s home. Residents from other Washington cities such as Spokane and Yakima are looking to come to the rainy side of the Cascades, too. Other search leaders come from Portland, Bend, Ore., Missoula, Mont., and San Francisco.

(Via Zillow)
(Via Zillow)

In three other categories examined by Zillow, the results are just as interesting, and, at least in the case of San Francisco, paint a familiar picture for Northwesterners who tend to watch and worry about an influx of Californians. It’s a story GeekWire told last year, when Seattle real estate brokerage Redfin conducted an analysis of its own, which found that Bay Area residents were increasingly looking for homes in Seattle and Portland.

Knowing what we know now about Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Apple and Google and more, and their expanding commitment to Seattle outposts, the news of Seattle being an attractive place for sticker-shocked Bay Area residents is no longer surprising. Just take a look at GeekWire’s list of the dozens of companies from outside the area that have set up engineering centers around Seattle.

But while San Francisco, with its median home value of just over $800,000, fits the presumptive mold of a place where people may be feeling priced out and searching for a way to flee, it is also the leader in searches for where outsiders want to be.

According to Zillow, on average, a home in the San Francisco area gets more page views from afar than 92 percent of other markets. However, 50 percent of San Francisco-based views are of homes outside the area. It’s the attraction of a hot tech-fueled job market vs. the woes of long-term affordability.

Zillow move search
(Via Zillow)

“We look at home searches to get a read on people’s housing aspirations and how they feel about housing and quality of life in their city, as well as their actual intentions to move into or out of a given area,” Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell said in a news release about the report. “If someone lives in an expensive area, they may look for another place to live that is less expensive but offers a similar quality of life. Home shoppers in less expensive markets, may weigh sacrificing space or cost in favor of a better job in a more expensive locale. Home search trends, in time, translate into actual moves and migration, which will have a lasting impact on the economy and landscape.”

There are two other categories that Zillow took a look at. Washington, D.C., led the top five cities in “few incoming views, many outgoing views.” Apparently no wants to move to New Orleans, Miami, Detroit or Houston, either.

And among “few incoming views, few outgoing views,” New York outpaced Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and St. Louis in the top five. Seems that if you’re making it work in New York you’ve conquered a number of elements and you might as well stay put.

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