Movers Study: The Top 10 States Americans Moved To and From in 2022

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson and Americans who moved last year.

People moving in 2022 were drawn to more remote areas, places with easy access to outdoor parks, walking and camping areas, as well as cities on or near the coast, according to United Van Lines 46th Annual National Movers Study.

Throughout the year, United tracks the company’s exclusive metrics for its customers’ state-to-state migration patterns, alongside a customer survey that examines motivations and influences for interstate moves. From this data, the top and bottom state were:

  • Vermont, seeing the highest percentage of inbound migration (77%) for the second consecutive year
  • For the fifth consecutive year, the study found that more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state
  • 67% of New Jersey moves were outbound, which is down from the five-year trend of 70%

The study also revealed a generational shift in moving motivations, with more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers relocating than any other age group last year. Those aged 55 and older accounted for more than half of all inbound United Van Lines moves in 2022 at 55%.

The survey also shows the top motivations for inbound moves included:

  • A desire to be closer to family (35%)
  • A new job or company transfer (33%)
  • Retirement (20%)

Although that 33% of people who made a long-distance move for a job transfer in 2022 was an increase compared to 2021’s 32.5%, that percentage hasn’t come close to the 41.7% seen in 2020 — or the 49.2% of those who moved for job reasons in 2019.

Look back even further, and those numbers stood at 51.4% in 2018 and 60.1% in 2015. Overall, job transfer-related moves are down more than 21 points since 2015, in part due to pandemic-fueled remote work.

The overall number of people who moved to be closer to family increased a bit in 2022 (32.4% of moves last year, compared to 31.8% in 2021). But looking closer at the demographics for that statistic, the greatest portion falls to those 55 and older: 13.66% (18-34,) 19.92% (35-44), 22.04% (45-54),32.84% (55-64) and 32.46% (65-plus).

Those of retirement age are deciding it’s time to be close to loved ones and moved closer to family. Notably when it comes to retirement, Florida fell completely out of the top 10 for the first time since 2019 when it entered at the 7th spot. It rose as high as 5th inbound state in 2020, then down to 7th again in 2021, and saw a slowdown to 57% for last year’s study.

Top states people moved to

All in all, the top inbound states of 2022 were:

  1. Vermont (77%)
  2. Oregon (67%)
  3. Rhode Island (66%)
  4. South Carolina (61%)
  5. Delaware (60.7%)
  6. North Carolina (60.5%)
  7. Washington, D.C. (59%)
  8. South Dakota (58.5%
  9. New Mexico (58.3%)
  10. Alabama (58%)

Notably, the Northeast claims three spots out of the top 10. Southeastern states also continued to see a high percentage of moves, as they have in past surveys, including South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama.

“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, said when weighing in on the survey.

He continued, “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.”

New to the list, Delaware, North Carolina and New Mexico joined the list of top 10 inbound states in 2022, rounding out the list. Retirement was cited by those moving to Delaware and New Mexico as the primary motivation for moving to the states.

Top states people moved from:

  1. New Jersey (67%)
  2. Illinois (64%)
  3. New York (62%)
  4. Michigan (58%)
  5. Wyoming (57%)
  6. Pennsylvania (56.7%)
  7. Massachusetts (56.5%)
  8. Nebraska (56.3%)
  9. Louisiana (56%)
  10. California (56%)

Wyoming and Pennsylvania joined the list of top 10 outbound states last year, with people citing moving for a new job or company transfer as their top motivation for moving out of those states.

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 this state at a lower cost, according to United Van Lines Vice President of Corporate Communications, Eily Cummings.

The study underscores the idea that Americans are moving from expensive cities to lower-density, more affordable regions, she said. 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, driving Americans to build their futures elsewhere.

You can see this trend in the top cities people are relocating to, which while they are coastal cities, remain affordable areas. Six out of the top 10 inbound MSA markets in 2022 are seaside cities:

Top 10 inbound cities:

  • Wilmington, NC (81%)
  • Bellingham, WA (73.2%)
  • Santa Fe, NM (73%)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (72%)
  • Punta Gorda, FL (71.6%)
  • Flagstaff, AZ (71.4%)
  • Sarasota-Bradenton, FL (71%)
  • State College, PA (70%)
  • Eugene-Springfield, OR (69%)
  • Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL (69%)
  • Notably, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Punta Gorda, Florida, ranked in the top inbound markets for three consecutive years.

What cities are people moving away from? The outbound cities of 2022 were largely on the East Coast — the first four, in fact: Hagerstown, Maryland (81%); Nassau-Suffolk, New York (78%); Poughkeepsie, New York (76%); and Bergen-Passaic, New Jersey (76%).

Narrowing it down to cities people moved to in 2022 shows a clear picture that coastal cities, along with locations featuring outdoorsy, lifestyle-driven amenities, continue to draw new residents. It seems to continue to be true regardless of locations’ proximity to potential natural disasters or the realities and potential impacts of climate change.

A desire to be close to and connect with nature appears to be reigning high in American’s minds as they look for their next step. Ultimately, it appears one of the pandemic’s indelible — and positive — impacts is a desire to connect with and embrace nature, live out our dreams, and be emotionally present while doing it.

Where are you moving next? Learn more about United’s 2022 Movers Study or reach out to Suddath about a local, long distance or international move.