2023 Atlas Migration Patterns Study: Where is America Moving?

Where are you moving next? Learn more about The 2023 Atlas® Migration Patterns Study or reach out to Suddath about a local, long distance or international move.

“Where are you going?” – a question asked both by singer Dave Matthews in his 2002 hit of the same name, and professionals in the moving industry each year.

For 2023, the annual Atlas Van Lines Migration Patterns Study answers that question and more. In the 30th edition since 1993 when Atlas began publishing its findings that track moving habits and preferences based on internal data, Americans are once again searching for a place to call home. However, following several years of unprecedented and unpredictable changes in the economy, housing, and job markets, 2023 proved to be a year of uncertainty in most housing markets.

The inevitable slow down following an unprecedented pandemic-driven boom meant current headlines talk of homeowners feeling “locked in” with lower mortgage rates, and thus not buying new homes at the current nationwide average of 7% — the highest rate in over 20 years. As of October 2023, customers had locked in a total of $800 billion in savings, as around 60% of mortgage holders have a rate of 4% or lower, according to Freddie Mac. That is savings most Americans did not find easy to give up in search of bigger and better.

What affect did this have on 2023 moves? Where are Americans moving – if they’re moving at all?

Key findings for the 2023 moving data show:

  • High inbound rates to hot housing markets in Maine and New Hampshire.
  • Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Washington are good for business.
  • The United States’ most affordable states have seen high rates of outbound moves, particularly in the Midwest, such as Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio.
  • Hawaii was once again a sought-after destination this year, with 77% of the shipments being inbound.

The 10 U.S. states with the highest percentage of inbound and outbound moves in 2023 are included below in order of highest inbound and highest outbound rates.

What States Are Most Americans Moving To?

The 10 U.S. states with the highest percentage of inbound moves in 2023 were:

  1. Maine
  2. North Carolina
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Montana
  5. Washington
  6. Arkansas
  7. Florida
  8. New Mexico
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Texas

North Carolina and Maine remain top-desired states from 2022 with New Hampshire making the largest jump from 10th to third.

What States Are Most Americans Moving Away From?

The 10 U.S. states with the highest percentage of outbound moves in 2023 were:

2023 Top 10 Outbound

  1. Illinois
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Louisiana
  4. Minnesota
  5. Indiana
  6. Oregon
  7. Iowa
  8. Mississippi
  9. New York
  10. Ohio

Pennsylvania’s rate of outbound moves dramatically increased in 2023, as did Oregon’s. Meanwhile, the exodus from Indiana has seemed to slow, although it remains high on the outbound list.

What Factors are Driving Relocation?

According to a Redfin study based on the searches of users, The share of homebuyers moving to a different metro area is coming down from an August 2023 peak as affordability becomes an increasingly important factor in home buying, and it becomes less feasible to work remotely.For those who are relocating, the most popular destinations are relatively affordable places like Sacramento, Las Vegas and Spokane, WA.

With affordability as a leading driver of American migration, previously popular hot spots like Austin, Texas are seeing a decline in homebuyers as they are priced out.

By mid-2022, when Austin home prices peaked, prices were up more than 75% from before the pandemic. Austin prices have since declined from that peak, but homes are still much more expensive than their pre- pandemic prices.

This means that the gap between Austin’s home prices and those of where relocating homebuyers commonly move from, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, is smaller than it used to be. Those in search of homeownership from these areas may be looking elsewhere for a better deal.

Monthly mortgage payments have also doubled from their pre-pandemic amounts.Stretching an already expensive market with affordability issues, the current typical monthly payment for Austin’s median-priced home ($455,000) at the average mortgage rate (7.63%) for the end of 2023 is $3,890, nearly double 2019’s typical payment of $2,136 (median sale price of $320,000; average mortgage rate of 3.94%).

Using Austin as a case study drives home the affordability point, as homebuyers leaving Austin are most commonly moving to other places in Texas that have a better cost of living but aren’t a huge change in culture and may still be close to family – common reasons for relocation. San Antonio and Corpus Christi are two of the three most popular destinations for users moving away from Austin; the other is Denver. 

When people are moving to these new areas, what neighborhoods are they looking into?

New neighborhoods, as it turns out. With the number of individual homeowners selling their homes decreasing, homebuilding has increased.

Nationwide, 31.8% of U.S. single-family homes for sale in the fourth quarter of 2023 were new construction, according to Redfin data, comparable with 31.9% a year earlier, which is the highest level of any fourth quarter on record. 

Even if individual sellers have listed their homes for sale, homebuilders have been making it hard to compete. They’re offering sizable discounts and concessions to attract bidders and offload inventory, including money for mortgage rate buydowns. 

However, just because they’re getting discounts doesn’t mean homebuilders haven’t increased prices – roughly two of every five (42%) new single-family homes that sold in 2022 went for $500,000 or more, up from under one-third (30%) in 2021 and 18% in 2020.

The Elderly and the Affluent are Fueling the Market

Affluent buyers, unaffected by elevated mortgage rates, found 2023 to be an ideal time to purchase property.

Prices of luxury homes rose at twice the pace of non-luxury homes at the end of 2023. This is in spite of the fact that low inventory is still driving up prices in the current market. While new luxury listings rose in 2023, the overall supply is still below pre-pandemic norms, according to Redfin data.

Driving the relative strength of the high-end housing market was the ability to make cash offers. 2023 saw a record-high share of all-cash luxury home purchases, with nearly half (46.5%) of the fourth quarter’s luxury purchases made in cash, up from 40% a year earlier. 

The typical U.S. luxury home sold for a record $1.17 million in the fourth quarter, up 8.8% from a year earlier. Prices of non-luxury homes increased at half the pace, rising 4.6% year over year to a record $340,000. 

Alongside the affluent, more than 338,000 U.S. residents welcomed in retirement with a new home in 2023, a 44 percent jump from 2022 and the highest number in three years. Affordability is also a driver for retirees on fixed incomes. Current pressures such as high inflation and a volatile stock market had many older Americans relocating to a cheaper or more tax-friendly state.

  • To no one’s surprise, Florida sees a massive influx of seniors. Florida netted more than 78,000 senior residents from other states, according to this 2023 Retiree Migration report by SmartAsset, which examines the most recent U.S. Census Bureau migration data. Miami, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg and Tampa all placed among the top 20 cities gaining the most seniors.
  • In a dramatic reversal, Charlotte, NC dropped more than 100 spots. The Queen City dropped from No. 6 to No. 130 in a single year, according to the SmartAsset report. Charlotte had a net gain of 1,290 residents 60 and older, but according to recent data, 3,150 retirees left Charlotte while only about 1,860 moved inbound from other states.
  • Likely influencing retirees moving choices: taxes and climate. Nevada, Texas and Florida took six of the top 10 spots for where retirees are moving, according to SmartAsset’s report on U.S. Census data. These states represent an intersection of warm climates and no state income tax, which likely help lure retirees looking to make their budget stretch further. Although, these states are ranked lower in state healthcare system performance, according to The Commonwealth Fund’s 2023 performance scorecard, as well as U.S. News’ yearly health care ranking.

Are Americans Moving Internationally?

At every age and income level, Americans aren’t just looking at moving in other areas of the U.S.A. – they’re looking globally to find affordability and a change in lifestyle.

The number of US citizens who live outside the US is about 9 million, according to a 2020 State Department estimate. On top of that amount, 15% of Americans polled by Gallup in 2022 said they wanted to leave the US permanently.

Social media platforms glamourizing #ExpatLife feeds into the main motivation for moving abroad in 2023 – craving a new adventure, according to research by The Washington Post. Thanks to the recent explosion of remote work opportunities, more countries have rolled out what are being called “digital nomad visas,” courting the laptop toting, café frequenting remote workforce.

The specifics on securing one of these visas vary based on factors like income and duration, but some of the most popular programs are in PortugalCroatia and Bali, according to Nomad List, a crowd-sourced site that ranks destinations based on criteria including cost of living, healthcare and internet speed.

So where are these adventure-seekers going? For 2023, Atlas® World Group International reported the following trends in overseas relocation:

2023 Top 10 Inbound

  1. Japan
  2. South Korea
  3. Germany
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Bahrain
  6. Australia
  7. Canada
  8. Kuwait
  9. India
  10. Jordan

2023 Top 10 Outbound

  1. Japan
  2. South Korea
  3. Kuwait
  4. Germany
  5. Saudi Arabia
  6. Puerto Rico
  7. Greece
  8. India
  9. Denmark
  10. United Kingdom

Where are you moving next? Learn more about Atlas’ 2023 Migration Patterns Study or reach out to Suddath about a local, long distance or international move.