As professional movers, we always strive to know where and why our customers move. The answer to these questions tends to change from year to year. Contrary to many other data-driven studies, moving trends 2021 is a very interesting and thrilling topic to many of us. While moving companies seek to understand the key factors of moving patterns to be closer to their customers and their needs, most of us are just curious to know how people move around the country.

As usual, Call the Movers have prepared moving trends 2021 summary to highlight the significant relocation-related changes and interesting moving industry facts. This article includes data from the 45th Annual National Migration Study and the 2022 HireAHelper American Migration Report, which analyzes and shares detailed migration reports every year.


  • Moving distance continues to increase. The number of long-distance moves has significantly increased. Although last year’s average moving distance was 51.1 miles, the percentage of Americans who moved to a different county (40%) or to a different state (17%) was the highest since the 2000s.
  • The lowest percentage of people moved in one year. The percentage of people moving every year in the USA is around 10% of the entire population. In 2021, as many as 26.4 million people in the U.S. moved, but that’s only 8% of the population. This may have resulted from a historic surge in home prices. Last year home prices increased by 20%, and this led to the lowest percentage of people moving in one year ever recorded.
  • Moving patterns were normal again. In 2021 the trajectory of moves showed no signs of anomaly. Industry operated normally and unlike in 2020 relocations did not pause. People learned to live with the pandemic and were not willing to change their plans.


The reasons why Americans move haven’t changed all that much in recent years, but it is important to mention the following moving trends 2021:

  • Moving for lifestyle reasons versus due to job change or transfer. A new job opportunity or company transfer has been the most common reason for relocation for years. But this is about to change. Work-related relocation dropped to 16% of all 2021 moves. The pandemic gave workers a better sense of their worth and solidified the importance of work/life balance. People got used to remote work. For this reason, job-related moves are on the decrease, and Americans seek to move somewhere close to towns famous for outdoor recreation or warmer weather.
  • Housing, housing, housing… Moving somewhere better and/or cheaper was the most common reason why almost half of Americans (46%) moved in 2021. Not surprisingly another quarter (25%) of all moves happened for family reasons, such as getting married or divorced.
  • Moves due to pandemic-related reasons. It is not surprising that COVID-19 had an impact on moving decisions and directions last year. According to the HireAHelper American Migration Report, almost one-fifth of respondents claimed their moves were influenced by COVID-19. As in previous years, Americans tend to move from large metro areas to lower-density states, because they are no longer attached to any specific location for work.

Moving next to the most interesting part of this survey, let’s look at:

TOP 10 states Americans were moving to in 2021:

2.South CarolinaSouth CarolinaOregon
4.DelawareSouth DakotaSouth Carolina
6.TennesseeNorth CarolinaDistrict of Columbia
8.New MexicoAlabamaSouth Dakota
9.AlabamaFloridaNorth Carolina
10.UtahArkansasNew Mexico

The biggest change in the moving trends 2021 about inbound states is that Arkansas climbed to the top of the list. Last year Arkansas saw 44% more people move in than move out — the highest percentage of all states! Surprisingly, it beat Idaho, Oregon, and South Carolina which dominated the ranking for some time. As people move more and more for lifestyle reasons, “The Natural State” – Arkansas seems to be a perfect choice. Americans have fallen in love with its warm spring season and the landscape dotted with forests, lakes, and rivers.

The list of the TOP 10 inbound states saw some significant changes last year. Four of the ten states changed on the ranking. Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, and North Carolina have been on the list for some years in a row, but in 2021 they were replaced by new states – Maine (3rd place), Delaware (4th place), New Mexico (8th place), and Utah (10th place). So, the moving directions are clear – Americans are looking for peaceful places to relax.

Florida (7th place) welcomed many new residents too. Known for its warm weather and sandy beaches, “The Sunshine State” is the most popular destination in the United States for retirement. Actually, 5 of the TOP 10 inbound cities in 2021 were in Florida: The Villages, FL, Bradenton, FL, Fort Myers, FL, Cape Coral, FL, and Saint Augustine, FL.

We should also highlight New York City. Last year it was the 2nd inbound city on the ranking. It’s quite surprising moving trend because people tend to leave the high-density metropolitan areas and New York, NY usually finds itself on the opposite side of the net migration scale. However, the reason for that is quite obvious – with decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and vaccination availability, people have come back to the offices and New York beats to the pulse of its “big city life” again.

TOP 10 outbound states in 2021

1.New JerseyNew JerseyNew Jersey
2.CaliforniaNew YorkIllinois
3.West VirginiaIllinoisNew York
7.ConnecticutNorth DakotaCalifornia
9.PennsylvaniaOhioNorth Dakota

New Jersey (1st place) has held the spot at the top of the list of outbound states for the past four years. Exorbitant living expenses and the burden of taxes force New Jersey’s residents to look for a new place to live, work, and improve their quality of life. In short, nine of the ten outbound states are considered densely populated and this is basically not attractive for those who are looking for a calm and relaxed lifestyle.

While California (2nd place), Illinois (4th place), and Maryland (5th place) are consistently at the top of the list of outbound states, there are a few new states too. Last year West Virginia (3rd place), and Minnesota (6th place) faced high outbound rates and entered the TOP 10 outbound states rating for the first time. The main reason why people are leaving West Virginia and Minnesota is career-related reasons. People are just chasing a dream job somewhere else.

Kansas, North Dakota, and Massachusetts are in a more favorable situation, because they are no longer on the TOP 10 outbound states ranking, while New York, as we mentioned before, made it to the TOP 10 list of inbound cities.

If you are interested in the cities with the highest outbound rates, cities in California have the greatest loss of the population. Three cities that lead the TOP 10 outbound ranking are as follows: a major technology hub San Jose, CA, large metropolitan area Sacramento, CA, and Long Beach, CA where the cost of living is 43% higher than the national average.

The states with balanced inbound and outbound moves in 2021 were Kentucky and Wyoming. With the combination of the low cost of living and abundant outdoor adventures, people seem happy to live there. By comparison, New Hampshire and Montana were the balanced states in 2020, and Maine and Oklahoma in 2019.


  • Americans are moving to southern states, such as Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida to improve their lifestyle, while those who are looking for affordable housing and lower cost of living choose Maine, Delaware, or Tennessee.
  • People make a decision to relocate for lifestyle-related reasons over career reasons, which was the most popular relocation reason for years. Remote work continues to be the new normal for many.
  • The increase in housing prices makes Americans move longer distances in order to find the most affordable and value-for-money place to live.

All in all, we are not expecting significant changes in the moving sector this year. As professional movers, we use these trends to improve our services and guarantee a smooth professional moving experience for everyone. Call the Movers approaches personalized moving strategies no matter whether it’s just a few blocks or a cross-country move. Call us and plan your next move right away!