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Study: Western States Lead High Outbound List as Americans Flock to Southeast and Affordable Metros in 2023

January, 2024

Earlier this month, United Van Lines released its 47th Annual National Movers Study, which tracks the company’s exclusive data for United Van Lines’ customers’ state-to-state migration patterns. This latest study shows that Americans are relocating to more affordable areas, with the Southeast leading the way, and Western states topping the list of high outbound migrations in 2023.

Familiar trends persist in top inbound and outbound states
For the third year in a row, Vermont has received the highest number of new residents, with 65% of moves being inbound. Among those moving to Vermont, 29% did so to be closer to family, while 20% were motivated by a desire for a lifestyle change. However, for the sixth year in a row, New Jersey has seen the highest number of residents moving out, with 65% of moves being outbound. The primary reason cited by those leaving New Jersey was retirement, accounting for 27% of outbound moves./

Southeast takes the lead on inbound rankings; some midwestern states top outbound list
In the southeastern region of the United States, several states, including South Carolina (63%), North Carolina (60%), and Alabama (60%), are becoming increasingly popular with a high percentage of inbound moves. In line with this trend, Arkansas (60%) and West Virginia (58%) have significantly improved their rankings and joined the list of top inbound states in 2023.

In contrast, people are still moving out of the Midwest and West regions of the United States. Illinois (61%), Michigan (58%), and California (58%) were among the states with the highest percentage of outbound moves in 2023. Furthermore, North Dakota (61%) and Kansas (55%) have dropped significantly in ranking and have now joined the top states with outbound moves.

It's worth noting that in 2023, states with less than 55% of moves by United Van Lines, both inbound and outbound, increased as fewer Americans relocated compared to the previous year. Additionally, several states, including Nevada and Utah, saw nearly equal numbers of residents moving in as moving out.

Below is a map that provides a visual illustration of the highest inbound and outbound states for 2023:

Health, wellbeing, and lifestyle influence migration patterns
People are choosing new places to live based on more than just job opportunities or affordable living costs. Health, emotional well-being, and lifestyle factors are now also major considerations. States with a slower pace of life, natural beauty, and tight-knit towns are drawing those who want to escape the stresses of busier areas. A sense of purpose and belonging are powerful motivators in choosing where to call home.

It is always interesting to observe the changes in moving trends from year to year through United Van Lines’ annual migration study. This study helps our team to anticipate the demand for our relocation services and align them with the evolving needs of our customers, by gaining a better understanding of national relocation trends.

For more information on the 2023 study, CLICK HERE

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