State of Moving in 2021: Moving Trends and the Lasting Effects of COVID-19

Joe Roberts
Researcher & Writer
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January 25, 2022
3 min read

In many ways, 2021 was just as turbulent a year as 2020. Between supply chain breakdowns,1 a volatile political climate, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ripples could be felt across virtually every American city, household, and industry. And the moving industry was no exception.

So, what percentage of Americans moved in 2021? According to the United States Census Bureau, a total of 27.1 million Americans moved in 2021, so about 8.4% percent.2 This means that 2021 saw the lowest percentage of movers in decades.

We wanted to learn more about these movers, so we conducted a survey of 1,000 people who moved in 2021. Roughly 20% of our respondents moved to another state, an increase of 6 percentage points over 2020. We also found that moving customers experienced shortages during 62% of moves.

And while people’s reasons for moving varied, many moving customers cited political, ecological, and economic concerns among their motivations.

Keep reading and we’ll get into more details about where people moved in 2021, why they moved, and what moving trends in 2022 may look like.


Top states people moved to and from

The 10 States People Moved To and Away From

While there were some slight changes in the ranking positions, the states people moved to and away from the most were largely consistent with last year’s trends.

Top states people moved to

  1. Florida
  2. Texas
  3. California
  4. North Carolina
  5. Colorado
  6. Arizona
  7. Georgia
  8. Washington
  9. New York
  10. South Carolina

Top states people moved away from

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New York
  4. Illinois
  5. Florida
  6. Washington
  7. Colorado
  8. New Jersey
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Oregon

As you can see, people moved away from California, New York, and Texas in droves, just like last year. Plenty of people migrated into those three states as well, though. In fact, almost all of the states people moved away from the most were also popular destinations for other movers.

This means that while these states saw massive exoduses, they also got huge influxes of new residents.


How far did people move?

Though there were statistically more interstate moves in 2021 than 2020, most people who moved this year didn’t actually move too far from home. Nearly half of all 2021 moves were cross-town moves, and roughly 78% of movers stayed within the same state.

  • 43% of respondents moved wIthin the same city.
  • 35% of respondents who moved to a new city stayed in the same state.
  • 20% of respondents moved to a different state.
  • 2% of respondents moved to a different country.

Additionally, 75% of respondents moved less than 1,000 miles away from their old homes, so many people who moved to a different state only moved a few states over, not across the country.

Exclamation
Considering a move? Hire movers we recommend!

According to our survey, 55% of people who moved in 2021 felt scammed by their moving company. Avoid this unfortunate outcome by hiring a mover we trust and recommend or by referring to our tips for avoiding moving scams.


Why were people moving?

People’s primary motivations for moving this year were the same as most other years:

  • 34% moved for family reasons (marriage, nearness to relatives, etc.).
  • 20% moved for lifestyle preferences.
  • 26% moved for career reasons.
  • 20% moved for economic reasons.

However, people’s secondary reasons for moving speak a little more directly to how people were feeling in 2021:

  • 39% cited political reasons.
  • 37% cited lower taxes.
  • 38% cited climate change.
  • 45% cited lower living costs.
  • 43% cited better culture.
  • 32% cited better weather.
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Cost of living in popular cities

If you’re considering a big move and living costs are an important factor, check out our piece about the costs of living in US cities to learn which cities are most affordable and which ones are better to just visit.


Other interesting findings and potential 2022 moving trends

2022 moving predictions

In addition to the survey data we gathered about people’s moving destinations and their motivations, we also found these interesting data points:

  • 63% of respondents said if the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus worsens, they will consider a move in 2022.
  • 62% of respondents experienced shortages using moving trucks and professional moving services during their move.
  • 63% of respondents said their move was unexpected.
  •  73% of respondents remodeled their home this year.
  • 31% of respondents bought a home.
  • 80% of respondents said they used professional moving services.

Methodology

Using proprietary data from our partners, we examined which states people moved to and from in 2021. Using a third-party survey platform, we also conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to discover why they moved this year. Our survey results have a margin of error of +/- 4% and a confidence level of 95%.


Recommended resources

Sources

  1. Bloomberg, “Global Supply Chains Are a Mess. Here’s What It’s Going to Take to Fix It.” November 12, 2021. Accessed December 7, 2021.
  2. US Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Releases 2021 CPS ASEC Geographic Mobility Data,” November 17, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022.
Joe Roberts
Written by
Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over four years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.