More than two years into the pandemic and we’re still seeing quite a bit of shuffling going on when it comes to moving — despite one of the biggest housing market bubbles and economic struggles in recent history.
So why (and where) are people moving?
At the beginning of the pandemic, moving trends suggested people were moving out of necessity — lost jobs, working remotely from home, needing to care for vulnerable family members, etc. Now, after settling into our new normal and reassessing our priorities, many people are looking to switch up their postal codes again (or for the first time since the pandemic).
Of course, we can’t predict the future, but we can share the moving trends we’re seeing with our own eyes (i.e., PODS customer moves in 2021 and the first part of this year). So here’s a look at the top 20 cities where people are moving to and from, as well as the top moving and housing market trends to consider before you make a move yourself.
Where are people moving to? Cities with the highest move-in numbers
Where are Americans moving to? Americans are overwhelmingly choosing to move to the states in the Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It’s likely more than just that sweet southern charm and tea that’s attracting them, too. These states have historically lower costs of living, less volatile seasonal weather changes, and more space and access to nature.
Outliers include Boise, ID, and Portland, ME, both located in northern states — and both making repeat appearances on our list (though further down this year).
What cities are people moving to in 2022? Sarasota, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Nashville appear to be the best places to live in the U.S. They’ve claimed the highest increase in residents from January 2021 through March 2022.
Here’s a full breakdown of the top cities in the U.S. that have seen the most growth, with their position on our list last year in parentheses:
|1||Sarasota, FL (5th in 2021)|
|2||Dallas-Fort Worth, TX|
|4||Tampa Bay, FL|
|5||Ocala, FL (12th in 2021)|
|6||Myrtle Beach, SC/Wilmington, NC (7th in 2021)|
|7||Knoxville, TN (3rd in 2021)|
|11||Jacksonville, FL (17th in 2021)|
|13||San Antonio, TX|
|14||Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (11th in 2021)|
|15||Melbourne, FL (16th in 2021)|
|17||Asheville, NC (6th in 2021)|
|19||Boise, ID (1st in 2021)|
|20||Portland, ME (9th in 2021)|
Where are people moving from? Cities with the highest move-out numbers
Just as important as knowing where people are moving to is knowing where people are moving from.
California is home to three of the top 10 cities with the highest exodus of residents in 2021 and so far in 2022. In fact, the top two spots on the list are both in California — and, together, sport a total loss that’s nearly equal to the loss from the eight other cities on the list combined. Ouch!
High state taxes and cost of living, soaring real estate prices, and densely populated cities are likely contributors — not to mention the natural disasters which have unfortunately befallen the state recently, and the fact that the Golden State was one of those hit hardest by COVID-19.
In addition to California, New York State may feel like a no-brainer when it comes to loss of residents, given the headlines around a mass exodus from the New York metro area at the beginning of the pandemic. But once the dust settled, the number of New York City’s new residents outweighed the loss first reported.
And surprisingly, data shows a high number of moves out of two secondary cities in New York state, possibly a result of people relocating after their initial pandemic moves out of NYC.
(Highest Number of Move-Outs)
|1||Los Angeles, CA|
|2||Northern California (San Francisco area)|
|4||Long Island, NY|
|5||Central New Jersey|
|9||Hudson Valley, NY|
Something many of these cities have in common? They’re hubs for major industry employers, from technology to politics. Employers deciding to permanently adopt working remote policies may be one catalyst for the high number of moves out of these cities. Employees who no longer need to live in big cities or nearby commute cities have moved on to cities where they can enjoy a better, or similar, quality of life at a lower cost of living.
2022 moving trends to watch
Considering buying a home? Hoping the whirlwind housing market of 2020 and 2021 may finally be headed toward a slow-down in 2022? Rock-bottom mortgage rates, skyrocketing home values, and demand that heavily outweighs the available housing inventory can only last so long.
Some experts predict rising housing prices will begin to taper off in the second half of 2022.
“What goes up, must eventually moderate,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “Rising rates may be a housing market headwind in 2022, but as some buyers pull back from the market due to affordability and supply constraints and as new construction adds more supply, house prices will moderate, resulting in a more balanced housing market.”
Mortgage rates are on the rise and may give many would-be home buyers second thoughts about making the big purchase — especially first-time buyers — while home prices remain high and the rising rate of inflation levels looms. In theory, this would effectively level out the demand and create less competition within the existing housing market inventory. The housing bubble may not burst, but it could likely shrink.
Renting? Unfortunately, the reduced rent prices we saw during the beginning of the pandemic have started to scale back, with rents creeping back up toward pre-pandemic levels in major cities — and actually exploding in those prime moving destinations we mentioned earlier. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still snag a great deal with a little bit of research. And knowing the newest hot spots is a good place to start.
|For a more in-depth look at the ins and outs of real estate, Shawn Tully, writer for Fortune Magazine, wrote a great piece on the current housing market and the relationship between rent and home prices here.|
In 2021, people moved for many of the same reasons we saw in 2020. Now, in 2022, more space and lower prices are still some of the top-line reasons people are moving. Having easier access to the outdoors and nature is also a big factor.
But as we mentioned earlier, a shifting of priorities has also affected why people are moving. Many companies have moved to permanent remote working policies, giving employees the option to move freely around the country, and people are taking advantage of the perk. Moving closer to family, particularly aging family members, is also high on the list, which could explain why many people have found themselves moving to Florida and Maine, two states with the highest percentage of older-aged populations in the country.
Florida leads the country in cities with the most continued growth
Which city are people moving to the most? Sarasota, Florida, saw the highest number of move-ins during 2021 and, so far, in 2022. Growth in this southwestern Floridian city was enough to bump it up from fifth to first place on this year’s list of Top 20 Growing Cities in the U.S.
And it’s not just Sarasota. Relocators can’t seem to get enough of the Sunshine State. In 2021, we reported that six (more than 25 percent) of the country’s top 20 growing cities were in Florida, including two in the top 10. Now, in 2022, the southeastern state again boasts six cities in the top 20, with three cities in the top five, including Sarasota.
|Insider Tip: Serious about moving to the Sunshine State? Read the Florida moving guide on the PODS Blog — Sarasota To The Space Coast: The Best Places To Live In Florida — to find your perfect slice of sunny paradise.|
Here are the top Florida cities with continued growth, along with their 2022 ranking:
- Sarasota, FL (1st in 2022)
- Ocala, FL (5th in 2022)
- Jacksonville, FL (11th in 2022)
- Melbourne, FL (15th in 2022)
Florida’s 2021 hotspots, Pensacola and Daytona, have cooled down (they didn’t make the list this year), though newcomers Tampa Bay (which encompasses the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg) and Orlando both ranked in the top 10.
Considering the moving trends that have come out of the last few years, it’s easy to see why Florida is a beacon for continued growth. Many of the state’s growth cities deliver on the golden trifecta of 2021 moving trends: a better-balanced cost of living, plenty of access to nature/more space, and year-round sunny weather.
Although housing prices in Florida continue to rise, you’ll still get more bang for your buck — or space for your dollar, rather — than in big cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Just ask people from those cities who moved down to the Sunshine State! Plus, a big perk of claiming Florida residency is the lack of state income tax — a huge boon for anyone relocating from tax-heavy states such as New York or California.
In fact, Tampa Bay, and several other Florida locales, have seen a marked increase in transplants from the New York City metro area over the last few years, even preceding the pandemic.
All of this adds up to Florida welcoming over 53 percent more new residents than the next most popular state on the list: Texas.
Texas is home to the most “fast riser” cities
Texas made headlines during the beginning of the pandemic as the new home state to many of Hollywood and Silicon Valley’s elite, putting it on people’s radars as one of the best places to move in the U.S. A continued exodus from major coastal cities (particularly those in California) coincided with growth in Texan cities in 2021, leaving the Lone Star State with the second-highest number of transplants in 2021 (and so far in 2022).
Taking the mantra of “Everything is bigger” to heart, Texas debuted four new cities on this year’s top 20 — with one newcomer city taking the number two spot.
Top fast-riser cities in Texas include:
- Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (#2)
- Houston, TX (#12)
- San Antonio, TX (#13)
- Austin, TX (#16)
Again, taking a look at moving trends and patterns, it’s no surprise Texas is moving up in the ranks. Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio also offer up the promise of an affordable cost of living, plenty of sunshine, and access to nature and wide open spaces. Like Florida, Texas is also one of the nine U.S. states that doesn’t have state income tax, giving those who move there an additional budget boost.
According to the Texas Real Estate Research Center, the housing market in Texas has surged with demand. High demand coinciding with lower housing inventory, particularly in more affordable price ranges, was a contributing factor to the high increase in housing prices seen here in the first half of 2021. Supply chain issues slowing new construction, coupled with the buying spree, caused housing inventory to decrease slightly in the second half of the year.
|Insider Tip: Check out the PODS blog report on Top Cities for Relocation 2020-21: A Look at Pandemic Moving Trends to see which moving trends and cities made the list last year.|
Our four top 20-ranking Texas cities also saw an increase in new housing starts — new builds that were started but not necessarily completed — with numbers that jumped 29.6 percent in San Antonio, 28.3 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth, 12.6 percent in Houston, and 22.9 percent in Austin. And the overall home sales? They saw a six percent annual increase.
Predictions expect the market to stay elevated through 2022, though not quite to the same levels as early 2021.
What does all this mean for you?
Moving trends are just that: trends.Trends are great for knowing what other people are doing to better understand what makes the most sense for you. But think about it. Trending destinations are also some of the most volatile and, while they can be useful for predicting where you might want to move, they can be just as useful for predicting where you might not want to move. In other words, they’re great for informing your decision, but, ultimately, you should move to the place that checks all of your boxes.
Trends are not rules and can change at any time, just like our circumstances. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about moving these last two years, it’s that sometimes (read: often) you need to be flexible. Surprises happen. That’s why it’s important to work with a moving company who understands flexibility. If your moving company isn’t flexible, you could end up wanting just a little more time to find your dream home in your dream town but stuck to a tight deadline.
And that’s also why PODS has different container sizes and flexible storage options built into every move. So if (or when) things change, we change right with them. PODS will focus on moving your things; you focus on discovering the best parts of your new hometown.
Alex Keight is a writer who has lived — and moved — all over the country and the world. She is an expert at packing, whether it’s for a long-distance move or short weekend trip. When she’s not writing or on the move, Alex spends her time giving her cat booty pats, cooking up dishes in the kitchen, and buying way more books than she knows she’ll ever actually get to reading.