Earlier this year United Van Lines released their 45th Annual Movers Study, which reports on state-to-state migration patterns.
Here’s the map summarizing the 2021 data. Note the legend — blue states had more people inbound than outbound, while yellow states are opposite — more outbound than inbound. Grey states are balanced.
Here’s a link to the report: United Van Lines Movers Study. On the United website clicking on each state tells you the percentage of inbound vs. outbound and the top reasons for moving and demographic data. You can also select different years to see how the pattern has changed over time. It’s fun to play with.
The study found that in 2021, the main migration pattern was moving out of higher-density states to lower-density states. “Of the top ten inbound states, six — Vermont, South Dakota, West Virginia, Alabama, Oregon and Idaho — are among the 20 least densely populated states in America, with less than 100 people per square mile.” This suggests that cost of living is a primary driver of migration. Housing is crazy expensive in high-density areas like California and New York as compared to less dense states. For those of you in a high-tax state, those of us in St. Louis would welcome you with open arms — it’s all-around good living here.
Taxes are a factor as well, as New York and California have extremely high tax rates and were both in the top five of net outbound moves. Here’s a great map of state tax rates for 2022. See how your state compares:
While taxes likely play a role, they aren’t the sole driver as some of the top inbound cities are not in low-tax states. Here are the top ten inbound cities in 2021 with the state tax rate in parenthesis:
- Medford/Ashland, OR (9.9%)
- Punta Gorda, FL (0%)
- Wilmington, NC (4.99%)
- Eugene-Springfield, OR (9.9%)
- Sarasota, FL (0%)
- Sioux Falls, SD (0%)
- Fort Meyers, FL (0%)
- Myrtle Beach, SC (7%)
- Santa Fe, NM (5.9%)
- Bellingham, WA (0%)
Plus, only three of the top ten inbound states — Florida, South Dakota, and Tennessee — are zero income tax states. The top inbound state, Vermont, has an income tax rate of 8.75%.
Since 2015, a trend is that people are moving less for job-related reasons and more to be close to family. Here’s a chart I made comparing these two reasons for moving:
Probably, the remote work trend will continue to shift reasons for moving away from job-related reasons.
To defend my current home state of Oregon, yep, the income tax rate is pretty high, but there is no sales tax, which partially offsets the income tax burden. I believe when all taxes are factored in, Oregon comes out a touch higher than the middle of the stack, but not in the top tier.
That said, I’ve lived in St. Louis too, and I agree, it’s also a sweet place to call home.
Good point. I forgot about that. I guess the best of both worlds is to live/work in southern Washington where’s there no income tax and drive across the border to buy stuff. So I guess Vancouver, Washington is the place to live?
Indeed, Vancouver is a lovely community, although I’m glad to be a little farther away from the Portland population center here in Eugene … the location where they filmed Animal House, modeled vaguely after Wash. U. A nice circle, that. 🙂