Story at a glance

  • The coronavirus pandemic disrupted some Americans’ plans of moving while spurring others to leave their area.
  • A new study assesses which states Americans are moving in and out of the most.
  • Idaho had the highest percentage of inbound migration of all states with 250 or more people moving.

Once might be a fluke, but for the second year in a row, Idaho is the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration, according to United Van Lines' 44th Annual National Migration Study of states that saw 250 or more moves in 2020. 


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Just one year before, following closely behind Idaho, were Oregon, South Carolina, Arizona and Washington state. In 2020, Americans continued to move further west and south, according to the study, with South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Arizona rounding out the top five inbound states. 

“United Van Lines’ data makes it clear that migration to western and southern states, a prevalent pattern for the past several years, persisted in 2020,” Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a release. “However, we’re seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt accelerated broader moving trends, including retirement driving top inbound regions as the Baby Boomer generation continues to reach that next phase of life.”  


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Where are all these newcomers coming from? Among the states experiencing large exoduses, New Jersey and New York topped the list along with other East Coast states: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. But California, one of the top states Americans moved to in 2019, made the top 10 outbound states in 2020. 

While moving during a pandemic can be a logistical and public health nightmare, some Americans said COVID-19 was the reason for their move. Nearly two-thirds of those said concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing were among the reasons for moving, in addition to changes in employment and lifestyle. 

"As more people experience job and lifestyle changes amid the pandemic like remote working, we’re seeing they have more flexibility in where they can live – many choosing to move from urban to more rural areas," Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines, said in the release.


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Published on Jan 05, 2021