Since its onset in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the moving industry in a big way. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the downward trend of geographic mobility that began in 2020 continued in 2021, resulting in far fewer people relocating than in previous years. Approximately 27 million Americans moved in 2021, down from nearly 30 million in 2020 and 31 million in 2019.
Of those Americans who did move, what spurred their relocation, and which U.S. cities were the most popular destinations? We gathered data points from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau demographic report and used our own in-depth consumer research on migration trends for homeowners and renters to find out. Below, we include facts and figures about residential moving to give you a big-picture look at current moving trends in the United States, plus predictions for the future.
General Moving Facts and Figures
These moving statistics for 2021* give a broad view of where Americans are going:
- 8.4% of Americans moved to a new location in 2021, down from 9.3% in 2020
- Approximately 253,000 people moved to the South from another region
- Approximately 227,000 people left the Northeast to move to another region
- Populations in the Midwest and West remained relatively stable compared to 2020
*U.S. Census Bureau migration report
Average Moving Cost
Moving costs vary depending on the size and distance of the relocation. Moving a one-bedroom apartment within the same county costs less than moving a four-bedroom home to a different state, for example. Hiring full-service movers, such as major van lines that provide packing and loading services, is often pricier than renting a moving truck or enlisting the help of a self-service moving company.
We surveyed 1,000 people in 2021 on the types of moves they completed in the last year and the associated costs. Of our group of survey participants, the majority—approximately 67%—were 25 to 44 years old, about 20% were over 45 years old, and the remaining 14% were between the ages of 18 and 24.
Based on our survey data, we found that DIY moves typically cost less than $500. Using a self-service company to rent mobile moving and storage containers ran survey respondents between $500 and $1,500. Those who hired a full-service moving company reported paying $1,000–$3,000.
Most Popular States
Texas was the top destination for out-of-state movers in 2021, replacing Florida, which held the top spot in 2020. Southern states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, became popular relocation spots, likely contributing to the overall migration growth experienced throughout the country’s southern region. Some states that made the list of the top 10 states people moved from in 2020—such as Connecticut, New Mexico, and Wyoming—did not experience the same exodus in 2021.
Here are the top 10 states to which people moved in 2021, according to the U.S. Postal Service data on change-of-address requests.
Top 10 States: Moving To
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
Below are the top 10 states from which people moved in 2021, according to the U.S. Postal Service data on change-of-address requests.
Top 10 States: Moving From
- New York
How Far Americans Moved
The majority of Americans who moved in 2021 did so locally, according to Census Bureau data. More than half of those who moved did so within the same county, while only about 15% of all moves were out of state.
Why People Move
Nearly half of people in the U.S. who moved in 2021 did so for housing-related reasons—most significantly, the cost of housing—which has been the top-cited reason since 2017, according to Census Bureau data. Family- and job-related moves also continue to be common.
Top Moving Concerns
We asked 1,000 people to rank the items they were most concerned about moving during their most recent relocations, regardless of whether they moved on their own or with a self- or full-service company.
Moving Trends in 2022
While we can’t predict moving trends for 2022, recent data may be able to shed some light on future migration patterns. For example, fewer people moved in 2021 than in any year before 2017, but of those who did relocate, a greater number moved out of state than in the years prior.
Data also shows that many people left the Northeast for other U.S. regions. At the same time, the South experienced a population boom almost equal to the loss in residents of northeastern states. These statistics may suggest that Americans will continue to move out of state in 2022, opting for the southernmost states rather than those in the Northeast, West, and Midwest.