For decades, Americans have been moving South and West, abandoning the so-called rust-belt states for warmer and sunnier locations like Florida, Texas and, until recently, California.
And, at least until the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates this year, stories of bidding wars and multiple offers for million dollar shacks in popular cities have been commonplace.
A generation of TV viewers was once led to believe that 90210 was the coolest zip code in America. Cities like Las Vegas and Joshua Tree, California have gone through hot moments as many remote professionals moved to them during the pandemic. And, of course, the entire state of Texas has been seeing skyrocketing population growth for years.
So Where Are We Moving?
But the soaring housing prices in many sunbelt states have made for a difficult situation for anybody trying to buy a home for the first time. And the sharp rise in interest rates means much higher payments even for those who have managed to save enough for a downpayment.
Against that backdrop, a list of America's hottest zip codes looks very different from what you might expect.
In its annual Hottest Zip Codes in America round-up, Realtor.com identified a suburb near Rochester, New York as the neighborhood with the most market demand proportionate to its size.
Brighton has a median home listing price of $275,000 (that number is $449,000 nationwide) and demand that has not waned as the state emerged from the pandemic.
The zip code 14618 is, in 2022, officially the hottest in the country.
"What makes this particular neighborhood stand out in 2022 is the combination of livability and affordability," reads the Realtor.com report. "[...] Regionally, the value is high with listing prices in Brighton 27% higher than the larger Rochester area," according to the report.
There are some downsides. Thanks to lake effect snows off of Lake Ontario, Brighton averages just under 7 feet (83 inches) of snow a year.
Next in the list was Nashua (zip code 03062) in New Hampshire. The 90,000-person city 35 miles outside of Boston is more expensive (the average listing price is $536,000) but is still below the million-plus price tags seen in most major cities.
In fact half of the top 10 Zip Codes were within striking distance of Boston.
The Northeast is, according to Realtor.com's findings, a hot place to live despite its infamously freezing winters. Other zips on the list include Windham (zip code 04062) in Maine with a listing price of $505,000 and Derry, New Hampshire (03038) with a listing price of $447,000.
"The area boasts many of the iconic New England attractions: hiking, fishing, boating, historic covered bridges, and antiques shops,” Realtor.com wrote of Derry. "[...] The town of 18,000 people experienced the second-largest increase in median listing price of any area on this year’s hottest ZIP codes list."
Investing Is Very Different From Actually Moving Somewhere
As often happens with these types of lists, these neighborhoods make the most sense to those who are already looking in a given city -- unless it’s a large-scale real estate business, moving specifically to a place reported to be "hot" for an investment is often a fool's errand since both trends and demand shift and developer hopes do not always live up to reality.
But biggest trend can be seen in the fact that not a single neighborhood among the top ten hottest was directly within an urban center. This is, in large part, because their high prices are in and of themselves tempering demand and pushing many to look further away for those starter homes.
The suburbs, in other words, are hotter than ever.
"People aren't giving up on their dream home, but it's moving even farther away from the big cities, past the suburbs, and into small towns where they can find a home that fits in their budget," Realtor's Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement.