Where Are People Moving To? 2021 Trends

Thirty-one million people move every year, but where are they moving and why? Let’s take a look at some of the top moving trends from 2021 and discuss what it means for the larger moving industry.

Where Are People Moving?

  • Into suburbs
  • Warmer climates
  • Closer to family

People are constantly moving to different locations both inside and outside the country. However, in 2021, people largely moved into the suburbs, to warmer climates, and closer to family.

Into Suburbs

It’s not hard to understand the appeal of the suburbs with the good school districts, low crime rates, and ample green spaces.

The suburbs are especially appealing for younger adults looking to start a family. Suburbs offer a more simple and peaceful lifestyle than the big cities' hustle and bustle.

The suburbs provide these families with more space — indoors and out — than they would otherwise get in a big city.

Warmer Climates

It’s also not hard to understand why people are moving to warmer climates. In some places, temperatures hover around freezing for nearly half the year!

This means that people are largely stuck inside during this extended period and can’t enjoy outdoor activities. This also means that people are constantly shoveling snow, scraping their windshields, and salting their sidewalks. Finally, long and harsh winters leave people susceptible to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to a lack of sunlight.

Alternatively, warmer and more tropical locations rarely experience freezing temperatures. In these locations, you’re able to spend more time outside and enjoy fun activities year-round like beach trips, dips in the pool, boat rides, and more.

Closer to Family

People also move to be closer to family. For example, adult children may move back home to be closer to their parents and care for them as they age. Alternatively, young adults with children may move closer to family to get help with childcare.

Being closer to family is also easier for holidays like birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas since it eliminates the need and expenses of traveling.

What States Are People Moving To?

  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina

In 2021, people moved out of states like California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and into states like South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Idaho, Arizona, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

1. South Carolina

South Carolina saw the highest rate of inbound moves in 2021, with 66% of moves being inbound compared to just 34% of moves being outbound. From 2020 to 2021, South Carolina saw a 1.4% increase in population, with nearly 500,000 people moving to the Palmetto State.

But why are people moving to South Carolina? For starters, the cost of living in South Carolina is cheaper than the U.S. average at 88.5%. The average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in South Carolina is $852, and the median home price is $223,400.

Additionally, South Carolina is a coastal state with many beaches for residents to enjoy, so it should come as no surprise that a large chunk of people who moved to the state did so for retirement.

2. Texas

Texas also saw more inbound moves than outbound moves in 2021, with rates at 54% and 46%, respectively. And while these inbound and outbound rates may seem small compared to South Carolina, Texas saw the highest overall population growth in 2021, with an increase of over 300,000 residents.

People are moving to Texas for a variety of different reasons. There’s plenty of space in Texas, which means that housing prices tend to be more affordable — even in larger cities like Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Buyers have found that they can get the best of both worlds in Texas — enjoying easy access to large cities without the high costs that tend to come with them.

Texas is also one of many states that don’t charge income tax. Finally, the weather in Texas tends to be quite mild.

3. Florida

In Florida, 59% of moves were inbound compared to 41% of outbound moves. Between 2020 and 2021, Florida gained 211,000 new residents, while some statistics indicate that 1,000 people move to Florida every day.

The number one reason why people move to Florida is the weather. Florida doesn’t experience seasons and has no real winter to speak of. This means that new Florida residents can enjoy the beach and the pool year-round.

Another reason people are moving to Florida is that, like Texas, Florida does not charge state income tax, resulting in a tax burden that’s substantially lower compared to high tax states like New Jersey.

4. Idaho

You may not hear much about Idaho, but you can expect to start hearing more about the Gem state, with 65% of people moving into Idaho compared to just 35% moving out. This high inbound rate resulted in more than 53,000 new residents and a growth rate of 2.9%.

Idaho may look different from some of the other states on this list, but the reasons why people are moving are largely the same — including lower cost of living and lower taxes. However, Idaho is also seen as desirable thanks to a booming tech sector that’s been called “The Next Silicon Valley.” Idaho also offers stunning landscapes and recreational opportunities with mountains, lakes, and valleys.

5. Arizona

The Grand Canyon state has also experienced a large population increase over the past year or so at 1.4% thanks to nearly 100,000 new residents. Many of these new residents are coming from West Coast states like California, looking for a cheaper cost of living.

However, many of Arizona’s new residents come from colder states looking for warmer weather. Arizona also provides access to tons of stunning National Parks, including the legendary Grand Canyon. Finally, Arizona’s job market is booming and provides plenty of opportunities for new residents.

6. Tennessee

Tennessee saw an increase of over 55,000 residents from 2020 to 2021 — contributing to a 1% population increase, with 65% of moves being inbound rather than outbound. The Tennessee job market has supported such a large migration, with 121,000 new jobs during this period. As a result, Nashville has been named the second hottest job market.

Couple a great job market with a relatively low cost of living, and it’s no wonder why people are moving to Tennessee. Tennessee’s overall cost of living is below the U.S. average at 87.6. Furthermore, Tennessee also has a relatively low tax rate.

7. North Carolina

Finally, we have Tennessee’s neighbor — North Carolina — a state that added 112,000 people between 2020 and 2021 for many of the same reasons. The cost of living is lower in North Carolina, and it also offers a mild climate.

North Carolina is also known for its schools and universities, including the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke.

Why Are People Moving Out of Cities?

  • High cost of living
  • Lack of space
  • Flexible work

Nearly five million people moved out of cities and into the suburbs or more rural areas in 2021. This largely occurs due to high costs of living, a lack of space, and more flexible work arrangements


High Cost of Living

Most cities come with higher costs of living. For example, some cities with the highest cost of living in the country include

  • New York City (142.5% above U.S. average)
  • San Francisco (101.7% above U.S. average)
  • Washington, DC (63.4% above U.S. average)
  • Seattle (56.1% above U.S. average)
  • Boston (51.2% above U.S. average)

Lack of Space

Due to high living costs, people can often only afford a small studio or one-bedroom apartment in many of these more expensive cities.

For example, the average monthly rent in New York City is over $5,000, while in San Francisco, it’s $4,323. And while some people don’t mind living in such a small space, it can get old quickly.

As a result, many people move out of the city into the suburbs to get more bang (and space) for their buck.

Flexible Work

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented exodus of people from the cities to the suburbs since people could work from home and didn’t necessarily have to live close to their offices anymore.

Offices are typically located in big cities, and people tend to live close to their offices to avoid lengthy commutes. But with more flexibility in terms of remote work, people were able to leave the city in favor of the suburbs.

What Are Typical Moving Patterns Like?

People are constantly moving, and experts track these patterns. Typically, people choose to move out of the high cost of living states to lower cost of living states where their money goes further. That way, they can afford to live in larger spaces in better areas with better schools.

Did 2021 Follow These Trends?

2021 did follow these trends — and at a higher rate than in the past. In 2021, 20% more Americans moved compared to 2020. Expect to see this rate continue to increase as people make the switch to remote work or get pushed out of the high cost of living cities due to rising rents and safety concerns.

What Drives Moving Trends?

  • Affordability
  • Amount of space
  • Family ties
  • Remote work
  • Weather

People may choose to move for any combination of reasons. However, here are some specific factors that tend to drive moving trends and are expected to continue doing so in 2022 and beyond:

1. Affordability

Inflation is on the rise, and it’s undoubtedly taken a toll on every American. As a result, many people are looking for ways to lower their expenses since their paycheck doesn’t seem to go as far.

Since rents and mortgages usually make up a large chunk of a paycheck, it makes sense to look for more affordable housing solutions.

2. Amount of Space

Quarantine in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that people were spending more time in their homes than ever before. Instead of leaving the house for school and work, entire families had to spend their days stuck in the house.

With limited space, this can get very old very fast. For this reason, many families started looking for more space, including more outdoor space.

3. Family Ties

Going through the COVID-19 pandemic also reinforced family value, as many families were separated for extended periods due to quarantine.

So it should really come as no surprise that people are shifting their priorities toward family as we finally start to exit the pandemic.

4. Remote Work

It was estimated that 25% of Americans were working remotely in 2021 — some permanently and some temporarily. In any case, the shift toward remote work brought on by the pandemic has given workers more flexibility and control over where they live.

They no longer have to choose where to live simply based on their employer. Instead, they have the freedom to choose where they want to live based on their own priorities.

5. Weather

Those who live in cold climates tend to dread the winters that seem to drag on longer every year. Instead of dealing with freezing and unpleasant weather for half the year, many people move to places with better weather to enjoy a better quality of life.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that people are moving to areas with lower costs of living, lower tax burdens, and warmer weather. If you’re looking to join in on these trends by moving to a new state this year, contact the moving experts at Carvaygo to make it happen.

Study: Top 10 States People Are Moving to — and Leaving | News Nation Now
Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the US | Investopedia
Why America Is Moving: Money, Space, Family, Lifestyle | NPR

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