KENNEWICK -- Benton and Franklin counties not only are attracting more people each year than move away, but many are arriving with higher incomes.
The National Association of Realtors recently released 2012 Relocation Report shows 5,292 families moved to Benton County in 2010, while fewer than 4,000 left the area.
That gave Benton County a gain of almost 1,300 new households and an average adjusted gross income per household of $46,796.
Franklin County saw 2,858 new families arrive, which was about 950 more than moved out. And their adjusted annual gross income per household was $38,481.
Two of Benton County's newest arrivals this year are Eric and Melissa Harrison of West Richland, who moved from Vancouver, Wash.
Eric, 36, said a job with BNSF Railway brought him here, but as a former resident he was looking to come back.
He grew up in Pasco in the 1980s, before his family moved to Lebanon, Ore., in the Willamette Valley. Harrison returned to Pasco briefly in his college years, then was back to Oregon before returning with a wife and family six months ago.
"What is most interesting is where people are coming from and going," said Paul Roy, managing broker from Coldwell Banker Tomlinson in Kennewick.
In Benton County, the largest group of residents coming from one place – 20 percent, or 1,047 families – came from Franklin County.
And in Franklin County, almost half of its new residents -- 1,372 households -- came from Benton County, according to the relocation report.
Roy said Franklin County's trends from recent years confirm that affordable housing in Franklin County is attracting first-time home buyers and younger families with modest incomes.
Typically, most new families relocate from within 200 miles, but statistics show Benton County's in-migration is from across the U.S.
And many of those coming from out-of-state are higher wage earners, which has helped raise the county's adjusted gross household incomes.
The report shows that in 2010, about 2,400 households moving into Benton County who were from outside Washington had an adjusted gross household income of $54,600, while movers from within the state had an average gross household income of $40,200.
Roy said it's not surprising that Benton County has been attracting higher-wage families because its communities typically have more higher-priced homes for sale than Franklin County.
The in-migration statistics for Franklin County show out-of-state movers in 2010 had an average gross household income of $34,700, which was less than the in-state movers' average gross household income of $39,900, according to the report.
That, too, is reflected in the housing market, Roy said.
Franklin County draws almost half of its incoming families from Benton County because more of its homes are priced affordably for first-time buyers and families with limited incomes, he said.
Relocations to Benton County in 2010 show 103 households came from Umatilla County, while 104 families came from Las Vegas.
Benton County also gained from across the Evergreen state: King County sent 259 households, Snohomish County provided 100 families, Pierce County 92, Spokane County 183, Walla Walla County 156 and Yakima County 398 households.
Franklin County gained 106 families from Yakima County and 529 households from out of state, primarily from the West.
The national report noted that total domestic internal migration across the U.S. in 2010 involved 6.7 million households, with about 58 percent of movers going from one county to another in the same state.
In 2010, Benton County had 2,542 families move to other counties in Washington and 1,424 families went elsewhere in the U.S..
Franklin County had 1,472 families move to other counties, and 429 families left for other areas in the nation.
The National Association of Realtors based the report on the IRS' 2010 Population Migration Statistics.
The report also shows that while 2008 was a heavy year for out-migration in both counties, the next two years had large rebounds when more people moved back to the area.