National Moving Trends, Top “Hello” & “Goodbye” States

What are the most popular in-migration states vs. those with highest out-migration? Glimpse America on the move, a story told by three moving companies.

The nation’s major players in the moving industry are data gatekeepers of America on the move. United Van Lines, U-Haul and Allied Van Lines are three companies sharing yearly insights.

These annual reports offer a snapshot of top inbound vs. outbound state migration trends via analysis of moving and transportation services provided to customers. “Hello Florida” echoed, with the Sunshine State listed as a “Top 5” in-migration state for all three companies. The other state also noted by all three for inbound migration is South Carolina.

According to United Van Lines Movers Study:

“As the pandemic continues to impact our day-to-day, we’re seeing that lifestyle changes — including the increased ability to work from home — and wanting to be closer to family are key factors in why Americans are moving today.”

SOURCE: Eily Cummings, United Van Lines
Top “Hello” States (Inbound Migration)

United Van Lines’ “Top 5” states (highest percentage in-migration) are: No. 1 Vermont (74%), followed by South Dakota (69%), South Carolina (63%), West Virginia (63%) and Florida (62%).

Top “Goodbye” States (Out Migration)

United Van Lines‘ revealed New Jersey, the Garden State at No. 1 in the nation with highest move-out percentage. In 2021, 71% of United Van Lines moving services in NJ were for those leaving the state. New Jersey’s two counterparts in the Tri-State area, New York and Connecticut, were also in the “Top 5” with the biggest out-migration percentage, plus California and Illinois.

U-Haul’s Annual 2021 Migration Data

While United Van Lines’ migration data reflects moves made by people who hired the company to transport their belongings, another huge industry player is U-Haul representing the move yourself market.

A January 2022 news release headline states, “U-Haul Growth Index: Florida has 10 of Top 25 U.S. Growth Cities.”

Florida Welcomes You, Photo Interstate 95 Sign, Nassau County, FL
What Was U-Haul’s No. 1 Destination Market?

“The sun-soaked Kissimmee-St. Cloud market less than 30 miles south of Orlando isn’t just for vacationers chasing roller-coaster rides and encounters with a famous mouse.In 2021, no American city or market netted more do-it-yourself movers in U-Haul® trucks,” stated the company.

Businesses Moving To Florida, Too

“It’s not just people moving to Florida, but businesses moving because they see better opportunities here.” said Miguel Caminos, U-Haul Company of Orlando President.

What’s the basis of U-Haul’s migration trends data? The analysis is “compiled from well over 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually. Growth cities are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a city/market versus leaving that city/market in a calendar year.”

Largest Net Gain One-Way U-Haul Trucks

It was Texas, however, that was the leading growth state of 2021, narrowly besting #2 Florida, according to the annual U-Haul Growth Index. Tennessee ranked third, South Carolina fourth and Arizona fifth in the nation. Which states were the biggest net losers? U-Haul indicated California and Illinois saw the greatest net losses, followed by Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Alabama and New York.

Allied Van Lines’ Annual “Magnet States Report”

A third moving transportation data provider is Allied Van Lines, calling its annual analysis the “Magnet States Report.” The latest report for the year 2021 was a collaboration between Allied and Zillow, providing housing and moving trends “in the midst of a COVID economy.” Allied’s data covers both consumers and corporate interstate moves.

“Florida continued to be a top destination for movers this year, as people sought warm weather, beaches and abundant rental properties.”

SOURCE: Allied Van Lines

The “Top 5” destinations in 2021 were: #1 – South Carolina, #2 – Tennessee, #3 – North Carolina, #4 Florida, #5 Arizona, according to Allied.

One of the takeaways from the “State Magnet Report:”

“The top destinations for net inbound moves in 2021 are mid-priced growing Sunbelt metro areas, while the top origins for net outbound moves are in places that are colder, pricier, or both.”

Allied Van Lines’ top five outbound states were: #1 Illinois, #2 California, #3 New Jersey, #4 Michigan, and #5 Pennsylvania.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Summed Up Moving Trends

“No matter the weather, the top states for movers have more open spaces compared with the states that lost residents. This low density often corresponds to lower crime as well as greater resistance to pandemic lockdowns. Americans vote with their feet, as well as their wallets and ballots. They are sending a message to high-tax, ill-governed states.”

Wall Street Journal, Editorial Board (January 3, 2022)
Florida’s 5-Year Growth Forecast — 849 Net New Residents Per Day

“Between April 1, 2021 and April 1, 2026, population growth is expected to average 309,867 net new residents per year (849 per day), representing a compound growth rate of 1.41% over this five‐year time horizon. These increases are analogous to adding a city about the size of Orlando every year.”

Demographics Estimating Conference Florida Forecast (Dec. 13, 2021)
With Growth Comes Challenges

Visitation to Florida hit historic level in 2021 (118 million domestic visitors). Huge tourism numbers plus population growth equals more crowds, more traffic, and added stress on natural resources as well as state and local services in popular destinations within the Sunshine State.

No doubt plenty of state arrivals absolutely love their new Florida lifestyle. But some longer-term residents, to various degrees, feel less rosy about the changes witnessed over time. The consequence of growth has not gone unnoticed, its impact on quality of life here and elsewhere around the state. Some wonder about sustainability and environmental degradation. But there’s no turning back the clock or stopping future growth.

Locally, Nassau County, Florida — “At Precipice Of Change”

In Nassau County, FL population expansion of 36% is projected in the 2020-2030 decade, according to Bureau of Economic Business and Research (BEBR).

“… The fact remains that Nassau stands at the precipice of change. A change that will descend upon the community with or without blessing,” states the 2020 Nassau County, Florida Growth Trends Report.

Nassau County, Florida Growth Rates

According to the latest population estimates by the Bureau of Economic Business and Research — BEBR, as described in a 2021 update at Nassau County’s website:

Nassau grew by an extraordinary rate of 4.92% (2019-2020). This growth rate ranks Nassau as the 4th fastest growing County in the State of Florida (by percent growth). Further, for counties with a population of 80,000 or more, Nassau is the 2nd fastest growing County in the State of Florida (by percent growth). This year-over-year growth rate is not an anomaly.

“Over the coming decade (2020-2030), the BEBR predicts Nassau will be the sixth fastest growing county in the State of Florida (by percentage) with a projected population expansion of 36% resulting in over 121,600 people calling Nassau home by 2030.” 

Source: Nassau County, FL Government Website
Nassau County, Florida map satellite image. Amelia Island at the Florida-Georgia border near Cumberland Island.

Locally in Nassau, much of the growth during the last two decades has been east of Interstate 95 (along the Yulee State Road 200/A1A corridor leading to Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach). It’s this off-island area in Yulee that will continue to be a concentrated area of growth in the county. A massive development area known as “Wildlight,” is located near I-95 within a special stewardship district, known as the East Nassau Community Planning Area (ENCPA). News of the next phase of Wildlight was announced last month in late January 2022. It will be more than five times the size of previous phase with development plans for approximately 15,000 residential units and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Newly Adopted State Road 200/A1A Corridor Master Plan

Nassau County’s “State Road 200/A1A Corridor Plan” was recently adopted after a two-year study and community input. It was the result of a realization that the pattern of development along the main transportation artery between I-95 and Amelia Island was “not fiscally sustainable” and did not “represent the interests of the community,” noted a Nassau County news release (January 31, 2022).

Nassau County Manager, Taco Pope stated “The population in Nassau County is going to increase. There’s nothing we can do legally to stop people from coming here. . . this plan promotes quality of life, invests in our community and makes Nassau County a better place to live.”

The Northeast Florida Regional Council gave a 2021 “Regional Award of Excellence” to the Nassau County Board of Commissioners for this new corridor plan, a vision for future growth (for more info, see Nassau County’s website).

U.S. Census Population Data

Northeast Florida as a region is booming. Nassau County is part of the Jacksonville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). U.S. Census population data for the most recent decade shows nearby Jacksonville’s population increase topped all other cities in the state of Florida. Jacksonville’s population reportedly grew by 138,000 people during the 2010-2020 Census period. The next highest population increase city was Orlando (growing by 73,000, far less than JAX). Read related “Marketplace” column by Steve Nicklas.

CLAM Plan — Nassau County, Florida

“Nassau County is currently behind the trend for conservation, being in the bottom ten counties in the state of Florida for conserved acres, and is in need of updates and revisions to its land development regulations,” according to the CLAM Plan (Nassau County’s Conservation Lands Acquisition & Management Manual and Conservation Plan). The plan was prepared by Marc Hudson, the Dir. of Strategic Conservation at North Florida Land Trust.

North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) was retained by Nassau County, FL to help identify land that should be preserved county-wide “to mitigate the anticipated impact of future development,” with goal to provide similar recreational and experiences that other Florida county governments provide. With the challenges growth brings, Nassau County, Florida has additional initiatives (links below for further information):

See also recent tourism news, “118 Million Domestic Visitors Flocked To Florida — Highest Level In State History”.