Here's where Americans moved to — and away from — in 2021

Here are the top states people moved to and from last year

A new moving industry analysis shows which states got the highest (and lowest) percentage of new residents. (iStock)

Americans are moving from large metro areas to lower-density states as they adapt to lifestyle changes amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the 2021 National Movers Study from United Van Lines.

The annual study, which has been conducted for the past 45 years, tracks the moving company's user data to determine state-to-state moving patterns. It found that Vermont is the state with the highest percentage of inbound moves (74%), while New Jersey has the most outbound migration (71%). 

Among the popular states with the highest rates of inbound migration are also South Dakota (69%), South Carolina (63%), West Virginia (63%) and Florida (62%). Some of the highest-density states again topped the list of outbound moves, including Illinois (67%), New York (63%), Connecticut (60%) and California (59%).

Keep reading to learn more about where Americans are moving and why. If you're in the market for a new home, visit Credible to view mortgage rates across multiple lenders for free. 


COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence moving decisions

The 2021 United Van Lines data "is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns," according to Michael A. Stoll, an economist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote," Stoll said.

During the past year and a half, about 15% of Americans who moved said that the pandemic influenced their decision. Over time, though, that number has dropped off by about half — 18% said the pandemic impacted their move in Aug. 2020, compared to just 9% in November 2021.

One unintended advantage of moving during the pandemic is that mortgage interest rates dropped significantly. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to a record low in January 2021, according to Freddie Mac. While interest rates have risen slightly since then, there's still time to lock in good terms on a home loan. Visit Credible to see your estimated mortgage offers without impacting your credit score.


In a new trend, Americans are moving to be closer to family

While the coronavirus pandemic may have had a direct impact on domestic moving decisions in 2021, it's also impacted moving trends in other, indirect ways. 

Nearly a third (32%) of Americans who moved in 2021 did so to be closer to loved ones — a new trend amid the pandemic as priorities shift and employees can take advantage of remote work opportunities, according to the study. The top states where people moved to be closer to family are Michigan, New Jersey and Kansas.

The amount of people who are moving for job changes dropped significantly since the pandemic began, too. Whereas 60% of Americans moved for their career in 2015, just 33% did so in 2021. Those who moved for a new job migrated to high-income areas like Washington, D.C. and California.

Another big reason why Americans moved states was for retirement. Here are the top states where people went to retire:

  1. Florida (38.8%)
  2. South Carolina (36.6%)
  3. Arizona (35.7%)
  4. Delaware (34.2%)
  5. Idaho (29.1%)

No matter where you're moving or why, it's important to consider how your housing payments will figure into your cost of living. You can compare mortgage rates and calculate your monthly mortgage payment on Credible.


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