Americans Head South for Winter

Warm weather and strong retirement structures attract the older generations

Jan 13, 2015 – It’s no secret that birds fly south for the winter, but according to the 2014 United Van Lines National Movers Study, humans are starting to follow their lead – and stay through spring, summer and fall. Migration trends show people are leaving the Northeast in record numbers, and Dr. Michael Stoll, Professor of Public Policy at UCLA, is not surprised.

Snowbirds Fleeing for Warmer Weather

The trend of snowbirds fleeing for warmer weather has been decades in the making. According to Dr. Stoll, U.S. residents have been relocating from the Frost Belt states, including New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, to the Sunbelt states, including Florida, Arizona and Texas, for the past three decades. Dr. Stoll believes the United Van Lines National Movers Study continues to show that this trend is not an anomaly within U.S. migration patterns. United Van Lines’ 2014 study found that the Northeast experienced, on average per state, the largest percentages of outbound moves compared to any other geographical region. Six out of 10 moves conducted by United Van lines in the past 12 months that involved the Northeast were outbound moves, with residents relocating to other regions within the country.

Baby Boomers Retiring South

Dr. Stoll says much of the reason for these moves is the demographic structure in the United States. The Northeast has an older population, and as baby boomers continue to retire, more people are moving from the Northeast into the southern and western states as a result. Dr. Stoll called out Florida in particular as a state with a strong retirement structure in place to attract the older generation into communities and areas with recreation centers, craft studios, team sports and more. The study agrees – nearly 40% of all moves to Florida were a direct result of retirement relocation.

Shift in Manufacturing

In addition to retirees, there has been a shift of manufacturing from the Northeast into the South and a technology boom out West. Even with pockets of technological incubators like Boston and New York, momentum continues to shift away from the industrialized Northeast. Employment growth continues in western and southern states, driving an influx of jobs. As the baby boom generation continues to age and move out of the Northeast, and the south and west continue to create jobs, Dr. Stoll expects snowbirds’ seasonal shift southward to be permanent.

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Michael Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles share his thoughts on migration patterns and moving trends.


United Van Lines 2014 National Movers Study Press Release, Map and Data – Download Now