Based on United Van Lines Data, Here’s Where People are Headed
Every year since 1977, United Van Lines has been tracking state-by-state migration patterns state-by-state. The 2023 Annual National Movers Study is based on household moves within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. States are ranked based on the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state.
United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55 percent or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55 percent or more moves were coming out of a state and “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.
Among the more notable trends captured in the latest study was a significant drop in the percentage of those moving for retirement reasons — from 20.39% in 2022 to just 13.5% in 2023 — perhaps due to less attractive mortgage rates, a downturn in real estate activity overall and that a significant number of Baby Boomers have already retired. Also, the percentage of those relocating to lower their cost of living went down significantly – from 8.15% in 2022 to just 2.7% last year. This is very probably due to the stabilizing inflation rate we’ve seen in the past year.
So where did people move to most in 2023? According to our data, these are the top ten states.*
Top States People Moved To*:
- Washington, D.C.
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
[*The 2023 study is based on household moves handled by the UniGroup network (parent company of United Van Lines) within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks states based off the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state. United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55 percent or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55 percent or more moves were coming out of a state or “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.]
Let’s take a closer look.
Vermont topped our list with more than 65% of moves inbound. Why is Vermont so popular? A full 26.5% of those responding to our survey said being near family and friends was the biggest factor for relocating, followed by 20.6% moving there for a new job or job transfer as well as 20.6% seeking a change in lifestyle, the highest percentage among the top five.
Vermont appeals to people because of its relatively low cost of living. Plus, these are amazing outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and natural beauty to enjoy. The state’s employers also seem to care about social and environmental issues, which makes it a good place to work. If you want to start a family, Vermont has laws requiring most businesses to offer bonding leave for both parents. It’s also very safe there with a crime rate almost 50% lower than the national average.
With an inbound move rate of 62.25%, Washington D.C.’s popularity is definitely on the rise, going from seventh place in 2022 to the runner-up spot last year. With approximately 40% of the workforce in Washington, D.C. employed by the government, it’s not surprising that 32.8% came here because of a new job or a transfer. Outside of government jobs, the top employment sectors include technology, construction, international business, and hospitality (primarily tourism). Moves in and out of D.C. typically cycle with presidential elections. We expect this trend to continue into 2024.
The epicenter of all things political, Washington, D.C. is the place to be if you like mingling with a diverse crowd and being surrounded by a heady mix of nightlife, politics and culture. With a full 51.85% of movers under the age of 45, it’s a place that attracts up and comers and notably just one out of 10 respondents come here to retire. With nearly 67% of respondents reporting an annual household income in excess of $150K, it’s the most affluent group in our survey overall.
South Carolina saw a 60.15% inbound rate, with 26.1% of respondents moving there to retire. It’s easy to see why: The beaches and golf courses are world famous and popular move destinations like Myrtle Beach manage to combine both, in an affordable alternative to other parts of the country, particularly the Northeast.
A full 22.4% of people said they moved to be closer to family and friends, and with a comparatively strong economy 29.17% moved there for a new job or transfer. Not surprisingly nearly 19% of those surveyed pointed to lifestyle as another key motivator. The state has old moss-covered trees, rolling mountains and amazing barrier islands perfect for vacations. And while the cost of living remains comfortably below the national average, just 6.2% of those surveyed said it was a draw for them.
With a 60.16% inbound move rate, you could say The Diamond State had been an overlooked gem for years, but that’s definitely not the case today. Nearly 20% of respondents moved there in 2023 to be closer to family and loved ones and 16.5% headed there to retire. That’s no surprise, since a new study by U.S. News and World Report revealed Arkansas is now the third most affordable state to live.
With six Fortune 500 companies located in Arkansas, including the world’s number-one corporation by revenue, Walmart, the Arkansas economy continues to be relatively strong and stable and nearly 32% of respondents moved there due to a new job or transfer. The ability to work remotely was also a significant factor in 2023, with 8.8% of those responding citing a change in their work situation as a motivator.
Arkansas also boasts over 52 state parks featuring an abundance of rivers, lakes, mountains and trails perfect for outdoorsy types. And let’s not overlook the fact it has a moderate climate and doesn’t typically experience very harsh winters or extensive periods of rain.
Rounding out our top five, this smallest state really packs a punch with an inbound rate of 60.12%. Nearly 30% moved to “Little Rhody” be closer to their family and friends. The biggest reason though was work, with 43.2% moving for a job.
With so much history, culture and architecture — plus over 400 miles of pristine coastline — it’s not surprising 13.1% said they moved to Rhode Island for a more attractive lifestyle. Housing costs are a bit lower than other New England states too. That said, just 5.4% of respondents moved there to retire in 2023. Retirement income and Social Security are taxed if you earn over a certain amount; however, the state does offer attractive deductions on taxes. One downside, Rhode Island also has an estate tax, which not many other states have.
VIP Transport can help make any of these — or other — U.S. states your new home. As a full-service moving company, we have agents located across the country. For long-distance, cross-country moves, our movers can also help with not just transporting your items, but also packing and storage. Our agents can also help you move locally, backed by the quality and resources of America’s #1 Mover®.