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Top 10 States for Inbound Migration

American homeowners' documented decisions to move westbound and southbound has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 44th annual migration study by United Van Lines [1] published in early January.

"United Van Lines’ data-driven insights uniquely point to national trends and, this year particularly, the resounding impact of COVID-19 on moving choices and the moving industry,” said Eily Cummings, Director of Corporate Communications at United Van Lines. “For example, as more people experience job and lifestyle changes amid the pandemic like remote working, we’re seeing they have more flexibility in where they can live—many choosing to move from urban to more rural areas.”

Idaho was the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration (70%) among states experiencing more than 250 moves with United Van Lines for the second consecutive year, according to the study, which tracks the moving company’s proprietary data for customers’ 2020 state-to-state migration patterns.

What states are families fleeing in the greatest numbers? New Jersey, which, with 70% outbound in 2020, has held the top spot for exits for the past three years.

According to the Van Lines information, top states for inbound migration included South Carolina (64%), Oregon (63%), South Dakota (62%) and Arizona (62%), while New York (67%), Illinois (67%), Connecticut (63%) and California (59%) were among the states experiencing the "largest exoduses."

In addition to numbers, United Van Lines collects information about customers' reasons for leaving.

"This year’s survey results indicated 40% of Americans who moved did so for a new job or job transfer (down from prior years), and more than one in four (27%) moved to be closer to family (which is significantly up over prior years)."

For customers who cited COVID-19 as an influence on their move, March to October 2020, the top reasons were concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing (60%); desires to be closer to family (59%); 57% moved due to changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely); and 53% desired a lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life.

“United Van Lines’ data makes it clear that migration to western and southern states, a prevalent pattern for the past several years, persisted in 2020,” Michael A. Stoll, Economist and Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles said. “However, we’re seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt accelerated broader moving trends, including retirement driving top inbound regions as the Baby Boomer generation continues to reach that next phase of life.”

New to the 2020 top-10 inbound list are Tennessee at No. 7 and Alabama at No. 8, both with inbound percentages of 60, and Arkansas at No. 10 with 59% inbound, Van Lines reported.

Here's the top ten states for inbound moves: