Pandemic’s Influence Factors in People’s Decision To Move

According to an annual national migration study by United Van Lines, the pandemic appeared to accelerate the migration of residents leaving some large crowded cities for suburbs and for Southern states, consistent with trends the moving firm had seen in prior years.

The survey offers a mostly anecdotal look at how moving patterns may be influenced by economic and demographic factors or, in the case of 2020, the global pandemic.

The chart below shows 2020 internal migration in different parts of the country using data from North American Van Lines and United Van Lines’ yearly report. Hover over the chart to understand inbound and outbound percentages for each state.

United Van Lines also conducted a survey of those who moved last year which found that 40% did so for a new job or transfer, less than in previous years, while 27% said they moved to be closer to family, which is significantly higher than past years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Current Population Survey,” the moving rate for 2020 is 9.3%, 0.5% less than 2019.

Idaho topped the moving firm’s list of states with the highest percentage of inbound migration for the second consecutive year followed by several Sun Belt states. Topping the list of outbound locations was New Jersey, which has held that place in the report for the past three years.

Among the top inbound states were South Carolina at 64%, Oregon at 63%, South Dakota at 62% and Arizona at 62%, while New York at 67%, Illinois also at 67%, Connecticut at 63% and California at 59% were among the states experiencing the largest exoduses.

Throughout 2020, major metropolitan areas such as New York City; Newark, New Jersey; and Chicago saw elevated outbound moves, while lower-density areas such as Wilmington, North Carolina, and Boise, Idaho, saw high levels of inbound moves.

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