It has been a while since I have had to set up a new MacBook Pro so I forgot about all the small things that I had changed over the past few years. I have some interference issues at home that I am still trying to resolve, but in the meanwhile I set up a second slightly older access point that I had lying around. I noticed that my MacBook Pro wasn’t switching when it got closer to the second access point (AP).
After some research, I finally remembered that I previously had to switch the join mode in macOS which, out of the box, is configured to stay connected to the existing AP as long as it could, even when an AP with a stronger signal exists. A quick search brought me to this post by Jonathan Mumm that had exactly what I needed.
Applying the following command changed the join mode and the MacBook Pro connected to the appropriate AP even without having to restart the computer.
sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport prefs joinMode=Strongest
I am not sure why Apple did not go with this as the default. In my experience, the “Strongest” mode seems to work better at home with multiple APs and at other places that have more complex wireless setup.