Where did Americans Move in 2023?
Americans were on the move in 2023, but where to? Most found themselves leaving high-cost-of-living areas in favor of warmer climates and more reasonable housing conditions.
While the top inbound states remained similar to 2022 numbers, the outbound data saw significant changes.
Southern states are still the predominant destination for inbound migration. Many of these states provide affordable housing, lower taxes and a high quality of life. The steady increase in remote and hybrid work may be a contributing factor, as individuals can now maintain their careers while moving to states with a smaller tax burden.
So, where are people moving to in 2023? Let’s take a closer look:
National Movers Study
Top Inbound States in 2023
Top Outbound States in 2023
Takeaways from the 2023 Moving Migration Report
While some of the findings of the 2023 Moving Migration Report were expected, a number of others were surprising. Here are some of the top takeaways from the report:
- Move volume (the number of individuals that moved in 2023) decreased 12% compared to 2022.
- Southern states remained primary draws for those moving, with top destinations including South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona and Florida.
- For the fifth year in a row, Illinois has the greatest percentage of individuals moving out of the state.
- Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina have consistently been among the top inbound states since 2020.
- Minnesota and Washington replaced Michigan and New Jersey on the list of top outbound states this year, coming in at #4 and #5.
- The most popular day to move in 2023 was Friday, and the most popular month was June.
- COVID-19 restrictions are becoming less important. Instead, individuals are taking advantage of hybrid and remote work options to relocate to suburbs in the South.
Illinois Is the Top Outbound State for 10 Years in a Row, California a Close Second
Since 2014, Illinois has been the top state for outbound moves, according to the Moving Migration Report.
Other leading outbound states include California and Pennsylvania, both of which have remained on the list for more than a decade. New Jersey was also on the list for over a decade but saw a slight decrease in outbound movement in 2023.
Mass layoffs and rising inflation continued to be concerns for Americans across the country in 2023. Despite rising concerns about the economy, Americans plan to spend 3–4% more on holiday shopping this year compared to 2022.
However, many are still cutting back on expenses to make ends meet. Income and property taxes are among the most significant expenses Americans face. Reducing those costs can have a significant impact on a family’s budget.
California and New York sit atop the highest cost of living lists in the United States. People are branching out of expensive states, cities and urban areas to find affordable housing and provide a higher quality of life for their families.
While houses still sell for top dollar in many areas, higher prices have driven down competition. The housing pricing surge has priced many Americans out of affordable housing. According to Today’s Homeowner, long-term renting is more affordable than owning a house in 46 of 97 major cities. This has led to a surge in rental prices, with rates increasing 3.23% year-over-year.
Quality of Life Is the Top Concern for Movers in 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work have led to a suburb surge. Many families and working professionals continue to wave goodbye to city life in search of affordable housing in cheaper communities. This trend started taking off at the end of 2020 and continues to affect migration patterns in 2023.
Even though many employers are requiring employees to return to the office, hybrid and work-from-home (WFH) schedules are here to stay. The remote work trend has been helped by the fact that many companies downsized their corporate office space during the pandemic, resulting in less space for full-time office staff. Whether the WFH trend will continue to affect moving patterns long-term remains to be seen.
Highest Income Tax States in 2023
It should come as no surprise that states with higher income tax rates see increased rates of emigration; many of the top outbound states have the highest tax rates in the country.
California residents have long dealt with some of the highest tax rates in the United States. Higher taxes reduce overall income and leave fewer funds for discretionary spending and investments. High property taxes (on top of already high property costs) play a further role in encouraging Golden State residents to look elsewhere.
In 2023, California was joined on the list of top outbound states by Minnesota. At 9.85%, Minnesota has one of the highest income tax rates in the nation. While the rate is still significantly lower than California’s income tax, it continues to illustrate the role that income tax plays in population shifts.
The Most Moved-To States in 2023
The most moved-to states in 2023 were South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona and Florida. Among the top inbound states in the Moving Migration Report, some cities saw a higher influx of new residents than others. The top cities in 2023 include:
- Tucson, Arizona
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Raleigh, North Carolina
These cities share several attractive similarities, including low cost of living and reasonable housing prices. In addition, all offer access to year-round outdoor recreational opportunities — in other words, an enhanced quality of life.
Understanding Migration Trends in North America
Migration trends allow us to study where people are moving to and where they're moving from. With this insight, we can better understand the trends shaping the social and economic changes prevalent in the United States.
The Factors Influencing Migration
The two greatest influences on state-to-state migration are the housing and labor markets. The staggering increase in the cost of housing in major cities is driving individuals and families to local suburbs around the country. The rise of remote work also impacted where Americans moved in 2023.
As of 2023, 27% of Americans work remotely. The increased flexibility of remote work has inevitably caused an exodus of residents from high-cost areas.
Regional Highlights: Where Are Americans Moving To?
So, where are people moving to? The South has the highest concentration of the most moved-to states in 2023, with South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina at the top. In contrast, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania had the highest rates of emigration. This data is comparable to the 2022 trends.
Many affordable cities in the South, like Charlotte, Charleston and Nashville, are making a big comeback as go-to destinations for families and working professionals. Meanwhile, traditionally expensive and densely populated cities like San Diego, Seattle and Chicago are seeing a wave of outbound migration.
Analyzing Migration Data with Interactive Maps
The interactive map above provides an inside look into the migration trends that shaped 2023 and will have the most significant impact in the coming years.
How to Use the Interactive Migration Map
To use the map, click on a state you want to learn more about. Once you select a state, you’ll see the total inbound and outbound migration broken down into a percentage. This insight can help you better understand where Americans are moving to and from throughout the year.
Visualizing Population Movements
This interactive map can help you visualize population movements and how they impact the country as a whole. For example, despite being the most populated state in the country, California’s outbound rate in 2023 was a staggering 62%, indicating significant and lasting economic changes.
These population movements help us understand where people are coming from. South Carolina and Tennessee are seeing a large portion of their new population come from states like California and Illinois.
The Impact of Migration on North American Regions
So, what impact do these migration trends have on the economic, social and cultural climate of these areas?
- Higher Home Prices: More demand leads to higher prices. According to Redfin, the median home price in Charlotte, South Carolina, is up 3.9% year-over-year.
- Gentrification: Population movements can lead to the gentrification of urban areas, pricing locals out of homes in their community. For example, Nashville is considered the most gentrified city in Tennessee.
- More Competition in the Housing Market: Cities that see a wave of new movers are also more competitive. Last year, the average home in Charlotte was on the market for 40 days; this year, it was down to 35, meaning homes are selling more than 12% faster.
In the process of compiling this data, we look at many different angles, including researching population reports and speaking to top companies in the moving industry to get insider knowledge. Additionally, we look at the cities that have seen the most considerable growth and studies and statistics surrounding the topic.
Once we have our data, we investigate the underlying causes. Demographic surveys help us understand the leading reasons for long-distance moves throughout the country. We are in the unique position of learning from our own customers what drives their decision to relocate.
Summary of Findings: Where are Americans Moving to?
The 2023 Moving Migration Report shows that the increasing cost of living, inflation and remote work continue to drive migration trends. Many people are actively seeking affordable housing that they can’t find in their current state of residence.
Additional factors that drive moving to another state include the desire for a higher quality of life with access to nature and family. With expanded opportunities for remote work, many Americans are no longer bound to one location, allowing them to explore lower-cost living options.
Will San Diego and Chicago continue to see a population loss year-over-year? Will Southern cities remain a leading draw for individuals and families throughout the country? Only time will tell! As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to ask where 2024 will take you.