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States Where Americans Moved to the Most

Americans love to change the home location more than any other nationality in the world. Previously, many have moved in search of a new job. But, today, priorities have sifted and people have started looking for cheap housing, lower taxes and a better social environment. This trend has greatly affected the U.S. internal migration patterns.

States Where Americans Moved to the Most4

Indeed, the latest figures taken from adults across the U.S. demonstrate that about 24% of Americans swapped cities in 2013. Overall, it appears that last years people moved to the states with low or average state income where they are less likely to find employment. So, why did this happen?

In the article “Stay Put, Young Man,” Timothy Noah, a journalist of Washington Monthly, has confirmed that Americans are moving away from opportunity:

Migration is not only declining but also tends to be away from places where, according to recent studies, young adults have the best chances of moving up the income scale.

Noah states that Americans have moved out of states with high per capita incomes, such as Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, to states with lower incomes. High cost of housing in richer states which sometimes is made even worse by exclusionary regulations is one of the possible reasons for this trend.

Another explanation comes from the book “Shaping Our Nation” by Michael Barone. He defines that Americans move partly in response to economic need, but also “to pursue dreams and escape nightmares.” Today, American cities of nightmare include Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo and other former factory towns that don’t have enough jobs for growing population. “The dream cities” are those with low taxes and low housing prices, such as Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, etc. Furthermore, according to Barone, today Americans prefer choosing culturally-developed places where they feel they fit in.

In the beginning of 2014, Atlas Van Lines released its annual survey of migration patterns where they presented data on the origins and destinations of interstate moves throughout the previous year. The survey shows that Americans migrated from rich states to poorer ones. States, such as Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware (the richest states) were among the migration losers, while Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas with their below-average per capita incomes experienced the biggest migration influx. The highest level of moves happened in California, Texas and Florida. According to Harvard’s Equality of Opportunity Project, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey are the most mobile cities with the highest rates of net emigration.

The U.S. Census Bureau report “Geographical Mobility: 2012 to 2013” highlighted the following migration trends that happened within this period:

  • The overall nation mover rate was down from 12% to 11,7%.
  • Only few of the movers traveled a long distance, most of people moved to the neighboring states (40,2% of all movers relocated less than 50 miles away and only 24,7%moved 500 or more miles).
  • The Northeast had the lowest mover rate among the regions, followed by Midwest, South and West.
  • The most common reason for moving were housing-related, followed by employment-related reasons.
  • The black population moved more than any other ethnic groups – 15% of all migrants were to other states. They were followed by Hispanics (13,9%), and Asians (12,6%).

Below we provide the top states where Americans moved the most last year:

# 1 Oregon

Oregon was the most popular state among Americans, with 61% of moves inbound. It replaced Washington D.C. which held number one position for the previous five years. Excellent amenities including public transport, green space, local arts and entertainment facilities drew attention of young professionals and retired people who moved to this city. Being one of the most naturally beautiful and diverse states in the country, Oregon offers a low cost of living as well as good opportunities for education and Eco-friendly environment.

Oregon Portland

#2 South Carolina

South Carolina ranks second place with 60% of moves inbound. Between 2010 and 2012, the population of South Carolina increased by 2.1% and now more than 4.7 million people consider South Carolina to be their home. Being one of the top travel destinations, South Carolina has over 100 golf courses. Moreover, the state provides excellent amenities and affordable housing costs (the median home value is $127,300, while the median rent price is $1,100).

View of downtown Columbia, South Carolina from FInlay Park

#3 North Carolina

With 58% of inbound rate North Carolina ranks the third place among the states Americans moved to the most. Today, approximately 9.75 million people live in North Carolina, an increase of 2.3 percent since the 2010 census. The Mountains in the West and beaches along the East coast attracted people who decided to move to this state. North Carolina’s cities have a lot of opportunities to offer. Thus, residents of Raleigh can take an advantage of art and cultural development, while the citizens of Charlotte are living in one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.

Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, USA skyline

#4 Wasghington D.C.

Washington D.C ranks fourth place with 57% of moves inbound. The state attracts new movers because of its relatively low prices for buying or renting a house. According to, the average rental price is $2,226 per month with the medium home value of $449,000. Washington D.C has the highest rankings in terms of its infrastructure, city’s parks and neighborhoods. Moreover, the Smithsonian and Kennedy Centers as well as numerous museums and theaters have transformed the state into a leading culture and arts hub.

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#5 South Dakota

For the first time South Dakota has made the list with 57% inbound rate. Since 2010 the state population increased by 2.4%. Today, approximately 833,354 people live in South Dakota. The state is famous for its beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes and Badlands National Park. Creating a friendly environment for entrepreneurs, South Dakota is developing two key industries – tourism and agriculture.

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#6 Nevada

In 2013 Nevada gained 56% for inbound moves. Since 2010 the population in Nevada has grown by 2.2% and encompasses about 2.75-million people. The state is known for its thriving glamorous nightlife and gambling, especially in Las Vegas. But, today many people of different ages set their stakes on the Silver State because of entirely different reasons: beautiful landscapes, outdoor activities, affordable homes and low tax rates. Indeed, there are more than 70 recreation zones in Nevada, including Death Valley National Park and Lake Tahoe. Its diverse geographic areas range from mountain snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the hot, dry Mojave Desert. Another of Nevada’s advantages is that it has no state income tax and no inheritance tax, making it possible for retirees save more money and enjoy their life. The average home prices in Nevada remain moderate. Thus, the median home value in Las Vegas is $163,700, while the median rent price is $1,125.

Low taxes are the underlying driving factor of anybody I talk to that is considering a move to Nevada from California.

Cole Smith

States Where Americans Moved to the Most

#7 Texas

As America’s fastest-growing large state, Texas has become another newcomer to the list, estimated at a 56% inbound rate. Since 2000, more than 1 million people have moved to Texas from other states. People move to Texas, first of all, because of cheap land and housing. For example, in Houston a typical home costs $130,100 which is an attractive price compared to Brooklyn where the same home costs half a million. Texas has 5 cities in the top 25 of “Best Places for Businesses and Careers.” Forbes explained this business friendly environment created for the entrepreneurs in the state:

Business incentives, industrial growth, and relatively lower costs of living are attracting jobs and people to the Southeastern and Western states.

Michael Stolle

Dallas Texas
#8 Colorado

With 55% inbound moves, Colorado ranks in the eighth place on the list. Since 2010 the state population increased by 3.1% and today approximately 5.18 million people live in Colorado state. The state has five cities in the top 100 of Forbes “Best Places for Businesses and Careers” including Denver and Fort Collins in the top 10. Colorado offers moderate prices for real estate. The average home value in Colorado is $233,200, while the average rent price is $1,248. Affordable housing as well as job opportunities have persuaded young people to move to Colorado.

To the extent that they are moving at all, young adults are headed to metro areas which are known to have a certain vibe — college towns, high-tech centers, and so-called “cool cities.”

William Frey



Today, we are witnessing that the U.S. state-to-state migration occurs in favor of low income states where housing and cost of living is more affordable. This may be bad news to many large cities investors, but it also should create new opportunities for more perceptive and less jaded ones.


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