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Where Have Americans Moved Post-Pandemic?

As revealed in the 47th National Movers Study—published by United Van Lines—found that for the 2023 calendar year, western states topped the outbound migration lists as Americans Fled expensive and high cost-of-living areas to head to the southeast and other, more affordable, metropolitan areas with comparative amenities. 

According to the study—which uses proprietary internal data derived from United Van Line’s customers destinations—for the third consecutive year. More residents moved to Vermont than any other state as 65% of moves were inbound. People moving to Vermont from out of state stated that they want to be closer to family (29%) and choosing a new lifestyle (21%). 

However, for the sixth consecutive year, the study found more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state, as 65% of New Jersey moves were outbound. The top motivation for moving out of the state was driven primarily by those looking to retire (27%). 

Looking at the Southeast region, which was the most popular for inbound migrations as a whole, found that South Carolina (63%), North Carolina (60%), and Alabama (60%) continue to increase in popularity on the destination side of things as they also had relatively high percentages of inbound moves. This is followed by Arkansas (60%) and West Virginia (58%) which grew leaps and bounds in 2023, making the list of the top-five states for inbound moves. 

Looking at outbound migrations, the states with the highest percentage of outbound moves were Illinois (61%); North Dakota (61%); Michigan (58%); California (58%); and Kansas (55%). 

"We are continuing to see the trend that Americans are moving to more affordable, lower-density areas across the country, with many heading to Southern states," United Van Lines VP of Corporate Communications Eily Cummings said. "Movers are also becoming more strategic with their planning, as relocation continues to be driven by factors such as the price of housing, regional climates, urban planning and job growth." 

The top inbound states according to United Van Lines of 2023 were: 

  1. Vermont 
  2. Washington, D.C. 
  3. South Carolina 
  4. Arkansas 
  5. Rhode Island 
  6. North Carolina 
  7. South Dakota 
  8. Alabama 
  9. New Mexico 
  10. West Virginia 

New to the 2023 top inbound list are Arkansas, moving up from #18 in 2022 to #4 in 2023, and West Virginia, moving up from #13 in 2022 to #10 in 2023. 

The top outbound states for 2023 were: 

  1. New Jersey 
  2. Illinois 
  3. North Dakota 
  4. New York 
  5. Michigan 
  6. California 
  7. Massachusetts 
  8. Kansas 

New to the 2023 top outbound list are North Dakota, moving up from #18 in 2022 to #3 in 2023, and Kansas, moving up from #14 in 2022 to #8 in 2023. For the first time in more than a decade, the study's findings list fewer than 10 "outbound" states. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic influenced decisions to move and accelerated existing moving patterns in 2020, mostly driven by the opportunity to work remotely, the desire to be closer to family and better affordability," Michael A. Stoll, Economist and Professor in The Department of Public Policy at The University of California, Los Angeles said. "Some Americans may be faced with economic uncertainty, coupled with an increased cost of living and lack of affordable housing. This can result in adjustments to moving timelines or people making interstate moves, rather than across states." 

Click here to see the study in its entirety, including a complete ranking of inbound/outbound rankings and interactive and historical data maps. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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