United Van Lines 47th Annual National Movers Study Reveals Where and Why Americans Moved in 2023
Western States Top the High Outbound List as Americans Flock to the Southeast and Less Expensive Metros
Interactive Map: To understand inbound and outbound percentages for each state, use the legend. To view reasons for moving and demographic data, select the year and state that you would like to view using the dropdown menus. (If you are using a desktop computer, you can use your mouse to click and select a state.) Please note that percentages pertaining to demographic data may not always total 100% due to respondents having the ability to opt out of answering survey questions and/or to select more than one survey response per question.
ST. LOUIS – Jan. 2, 2024 – United Van Lines released the company’s 47th Annual National Movers Study today, which indicates Americans are moving eastbound and southbound – and relocating to less expensive areas with comparable amenities to larger metropolitans.
According to the results of the study, which tracks the company’s exclusive data for customers’ state-to-state migration patterns, for the third consecutive year, more residents moved to Vermont than any other state with 65% of moves being inbound. Of moves to Vermont, moving to be closer to family (29%) led the reason for relocating to the state, followed by a lifestyle change (20%). 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 moves out of the state was driven primarily from those looking to retire (27%).
In the Southeast region of the United States, several states – including South Carolina (63%), North Carolina (60%) and Alabama (60%) – continue to increase in popularity with a high percentage of inbound moves. In alignment with this trend, Arkansas (60%) and West Virginia (58%) significantly increased in ranking and joined the list of top inbound states in 2023.
Conversely, in the Midwest and West region of the U.S., an outbound moving trend continues. Illinois (61%), Michigan (58%) and California (58%) were all included among the top states with a high percentage of outbound moves in 2023. Additionally, North Dakota (61%) and Kansas (55%) significantly decreased in ranking and joined the top outbound states last year.
“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 Vice President 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* of 2023 were:
- Washington, D.C.
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- 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:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- New York
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.
According to the results of the study, states with less than 55% of moves by United Van Lines, rather inbound or outbound, increased in 2023 as fewer Americans relocated compared to the previous year. Several states also saw nearly the same number of residents moving inbound as outbound. Nevada and Utah were among these “balanced 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.”
Metro Area Trends
Metro areas with more outbound moves than inbound moves tended to experience less growth in their working-age population in the same year. The study and its accompanying survey, which examines the motivations and influences for Americans’ interstate moves, revealed the leading motivation behind these migration patterns and across all regions is a career change – with 29% of movers relocating for a new job or company transfer.
Additionally, the survey shows the top motivations for moves – such as wanting to be closer to family (27%) and retirement (14%) – have declined compared to 2022 as movers consider other important factors related to location preferences, the cost of living and affordable housing.
Zillow Senior Economist Orphe Divounguy examined the relationship between the United Van Lines move data and the current housing market, which revealed affordability is the most significant consideration for home buyers and sellers planning to relocate.
The study shows movers tend to relocate to less expensive metro areas that are likely to see less competition in the housing market. Charlotte, North Carolina and Indianapolis, Indiana were among the top markets for net inbound moves by United Van Lines, of the 50 largest metro areas by population. A deeper analysis from Zillow on how these migration patterns impact home value and regional population growth is available here.
Insights on Migration Trends
Check out our blogs to learn more about migration trends from the latest United Movers Study.
* Since 1977, United Van Lines annually tracks migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. 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.
To access the study details and creative assets, use the link to the press kit at the top or bottom of the page.
For more information on United or if you are a member of the press and have questions/comments, please email our Vice President of Corporate Communications: Eily_Cummings@unigroup.com
The United Van Lines 2023 National Movers Study press kit contains additional data, including a map, the complete inbound/outbound rankings for states and metropolitan statistical areas and six-year trends. Download Now.