The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more Americans out of urban areas, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. New data shows that Americans are choosing to move out of metro areas, as far as 60 miles away, particularly to areas defined as exurb or outer margins of cities.

“With many more people of working ages now able to work from home at least some of the time, it’s likely that some people are more willing to live further away from their place of employment than they would have in the past,” said Luke Rogers, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau’s population division.

A wide range of factors are driving the exodus from cities, according to the Census Bureau, including rising housing costs following the pandemic, and more opportunities to work from home, removing the need for commuting to the office.

“While the Census Bureau doesn’t define exurbs, we tend to think of them as far outer suburbs of metro areas, and they often have a mix of urban and rural character,” Rogers said.

New population analysis shows the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were not in metro areas—the highest collective gains in population happened in regions 20 miles outside of urban areas.

The Phoenix-Masa-Chandler region in Arizona experienced one of the biggest surges, taking the number 10 spot for largest metro areas in the U.S. with a population of 5 million residents.

Growth in Phoenix fell from 1.6 percent to 0.4 percent, however, areas on the outside of the city saw significant increases including in Maricopa which grew by just over 7 percent in 2023, compared to 4.2 percent from 2018-2019.

Experts at the Census Bureau are unsure if this is a temporary phenomenon or a sign of future migration patterns.

“Exurbs have sometimes been among the most rapidly growing communities, but this appears to be even more true now than before the pandemic,” said Rogers.