While migration patterns have shifted in recent years and motivations have been impacted by remote work capabilities, interstate moving activity was at high levels in both 2021 and 2022. Approximately 7.9 million people moved to another state in 2021, and a record 8.2 million individuals moved to another state in 2022, according to StorageCafe analysis of U.S. Census data.
While historically popular relocation destinations in the Sun Belt region remain popular, the freedom and flexibility of remote work and the desire for more space in the post-pandemic era are also influencing moving decisions. Relocation also is heavily influenced by the cost of living, with many residents in high-cost states such as New York and California looking to relocate to areas with lower costs of living.
According to StorageCafe, Western and Southern states are emerging as “net migration hot spots,” while the New England region is also becoming a popular relocation destination. StorageCafe estimates that renters are more likely to move across state lines than individuals that already own a home.
On a state level, Idaho had the largest net gain at 25 newcomers per 1,000 residents; 85% more people moved into Idaho than left the state. Net migration in part helped Idaho’s population increase by 13% between 2016 to 2021, the highest population growth among all states. The top three most popular states individuals are relocating to Idaho from are Washington, California, and Colorado. Californian baby boomers are favoring Idaho as a retirement destination, in part due to significantly lower costs of living. Millennials from Washington and Gen X individuals from Colorado also comprise a significant share of new residents in the state, according to StorageCafe.
Another popular relocation destination in the west is Montana, which ranked third with an influx of 18 newcomers per 1,000 residents. Montana has a median home price of $319,000, ranking in the middle among the 50 states, but is an appealing relocation destination for high-earning individuals from the nearby states of Washington, California, and Colorado, according to StorageCafe.
States rounding out the ranking of highest net migration include Vermont, South Carolina, Maine, Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. A common thread among the states that are gaining residents is above-average job market growth during the pandemic as well as more affordable and available housing relative to other areas of the country. Popular relocation destinations in the South also boast more living space: The average floor area of single-family homes sold in the region increased by 60 square feet from 2019 to 2022, according to StorageCafe.