- Studies conducted by two moving companies broke down the percentage of inbound and outbound moves for each state in 2015.
- Americans are relocating to the Southern and Northwestern regions of the country, with Oregon ranked as the most popular state of choice last year.
- Customers cited a new job, retirement and proximity to family as top reasons for hitting the Sun Belt, with outdoor opportunities and a booming creative sphere serving as big attractors in the Pacific Northwest.
As the economy has recovered and more Americans can afford be choosy about where they live, it appears that many are trading their snow shovels for sunglasses while others are ditching their high heels for hiking boots.
According to two long-distance moving companies’ recent analyses of their customers’ migration patterns in the last year, 2015 trends show that people are packing their bags, leaving the Northeast and Midwest and relocating to two regions: the Sun Belt for warmth and new jobs, and the Pacific Northwest for its great outdoors and booming tech industry.
The studies are supported by recent U.S. Census Bureau data, which show that migration is on the uptick and showing clear signs of returning to pre-recession levels.
United Van Lines: Movers flock to the Pacific Northwest
United Van Lines, which is based in St. Louis and operates 400 affiliated agencies across the country, concluded in its 39th Annual National Movers Study that Oregon holds the No. 1 spot as the top moving destination for the third year in a row.
With inbound migration increasing by 10 percent over the past six years, 69 percent of moves to and from the Beaver State in 2015 were inbound.
Oregon’s northern neighbor — the state of Washington — made the top 10 list for inbound movers for the first time, coming in 10th with 56 percent of moves being inbound, United added.
“Cities such as Portland and Seattle are seeing the combination of a boom in the technology and creative marketing industry, as well as a growing ‘want’ for outdoor activity and green space,” said Michael Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the department of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a press release. “The aging boomer population is driving relocation from the Northeast and Midwest to the West and South, as more and more people retire to warmer regions.”
Southern states also fared well on United’s list, with 53 percent of total moves being inbound. United said its customers cited company transfer/new job, retirement and proximity to family as their top reasons for hitting the Sun Belt.
United’s top 10 list of inbound states were, in order:
2. South Carolina
5. North Carolina
8. Washington, D.C.
At the same time, United noted large moving deficits in the Northeast. New Jersey and New York topped the company’s list of top outbound states, losing 67 percent and 65 percent of movers, respectively.
Illinois, which lost 63 percent of movers, held steady at the No. 3 spot, having ranked in the top five outbound states for the last seven years.
New additions to United’s outbound list this year were Connecticut (63 percent); Massachusetts (57 percent); and Mississippi (56 percent).
According to United, a handful of states broke even, gaining the same number of residents as those that left: Alabama, North Dakota, Delaware and Louisiana.
Atlas Van Lines: Movers say goodbye New York, a hui hou Hawaii
Atlas Van Lines, which is headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, and has 500 moving agents across the country, reported similar results in its 23rd annual Migration Patterns study.
Oregon came in as the Atlas study’s top destination for the first time since 1995, with inbound moves making up 64 percent of the total.
Atlas’ list of top inbound states was rounded out by Idaho (63 percent); North Carolina (61 percent); Alaska (60 percent); and North Dakota (59 percent).
The states with the highest percentage of outbound moves on this list included Hawaii (62 percent); New York (61.8 percent); Illinois (61.7 percent); South Dakota (60 percent); and Wyoming (59.5 percent).
In contrast to United’s findings, Atlas’ analysis classified Washington, D.C., as “balanced,” with roughly the same number of inbound and outbound movers — the first time that Atlas did not classify the nation’s capital as inbound.
U.S. Census Bureau: Movers seek sun and warmth
The companies’ findings are largely in line with recent Census data, which shows a noticeable expansion of Sun Belt migration gains in the last year.
Although migration shifts from the Snow Belt of the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West regions in the early 2000s tapered off noticeably during the housing crisis and recession years, the Census noted that the Sun Belt states gained more than 500,000 migrants from 2014 to 2015, coming close to the Sun Belt’s migration peak of 600,000 in 2004 and 2005.
Leading the way for inbound movers was Florida, followed by Texas, Colorado, Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina, Oregon and Georgia, each of which took in more migrants last year than the year before, the Census said.
States losing movers, according to the Census, are New York, which has lost more than 150,000 residents in the last two years, followed by Illinois, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut, all of which showed greater migration losses last year than the previous year.