Driven by career changes, retirement, and a desire to be closer to family, Americans continued to move to lower-density areas in 2022, according to United Van Lines’ 46th annual National Movers Study. For the second year in a row, state-to-state migration patterns reveal that Vermont saw the highest percentage of inbound migration at 77%.
At 67%, Oregon came in as the second top inbound state for 2022. The state was followed by Rhode Island at 66%; South Carolina at 61%; Delaware at 61%; North Carolina at 61%; Washington, D.C., at 59%; South Dakota at 59%; New Mexico at 58%; and Alabama at 58%.
“For the last several years, Idaho was a top destination, as Americans migrated from Northern California, Washington, and even Oregon due to a similar lifestyle in the state. With an influx of new residents, housing prices, and other living costs start to increase over time, and these popular destinations become hot spots for inflation,” says United Van Lines vice president of corporate communications Eily Cummings. “As a result, the study underscored that Americans are moving from expensive cities to lower-density, more affordable regions.”
Four of the top 10 inbound states are some of the least densely populated states in the U.S. with fewer than 100 people per square mile. These include Vermont, Oregon, South Dakota, and New Mexico, with South Dakota and New Mexico being among the top 10 least dense. Delaware and New Mexico noted retirement as a top motivation for moves.
“Key factors like retirement, wanting to be closer to family, and lifestyle changes influenced by the pandemic along with current housing prices drove moving patterns in 2022,” Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, says.
“The United Van Lines study encompasses data that Americans are now moving from bigger to smaller cities, mostly in the South, some in the West, but even an increase of migration to the Northeast, which has not been typical. We’re also seeing younger millennials migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.”
The study and its accompanying survey revealed that baby boomers and Gen Xers moved more than any other age group in 2022, as those 55 and older accounted for more than 55% of all inbound United Van Lines moves. Top motivations for inbound moves included a desire to be closer to family (35%), a new job or company transfer (33%), and retirement (20%), the survey shows.
Down from the five-year trend of 70%, New Jersey continued to see the highest percentage of outbound migration at 67%. Both at 57%, Wyoming and Pennsylvania joined the top 10 list of outbound states for 2022. A new job or company transfer was the leading motivation for both states.
The top 10 for outbound states also included Illinois, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Louisiana, and California. Several states saw close to the same number of residents moving in as out. Missouri and Nevada are among the most balanced states for 2022.
The 2022 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.