Why So Many Americans Are Moving (and Where They’re Going) in 2022

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  • The number of people moving has been on the rise since the first news of COVID-19 hit.
  • People appear to be looking for homes in affordable areas with wide, open spaces.

Americans are on the move, despite -- or due to -- the pandemic.

More than 10% of Americans moved residences in the first part of 2021. That's nearly 1% more than typically would do so in an entire year. That means somewhere around 33.5 million people picked up and moved as a global pandemic raged.


Here are a few of the big reasons.


34.5% of respondents in the United Van Lines 2021 Annual National Movers Study said they were making a move to be closer to family. Here's how it breaks down demographically:

Age Percent Moving To Be Closer Family
18-34 16.1%
35-44 18.6%
45-54 23.2%
55-64 31.2%
65+ 49.3%

Because older adults are less likely to be tied down to a location by a job, it makes sense that they're leading the charge on big moves. It appears that one aftermath of the global pandemic will be that a higher number of people, no matter their age, feel compelled to spend more time with loved ones.

Job transfer

34.6% of respondents in the United Van Lines study report that they moved due to a job transfer. That's down from 60.1% in 2015 and 51.4% in 2019. Still, job transfers were one of the top reasons people moved last year.


As Americans began to use their homes as schools, gyms, and offices, available space became more important. A 2020 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the desire for a larger home was the second most commonly stated reason for making a move.

One need only think back to the 1980s and '90s to remember many homebuyers' "bigger is better" mentality. Today, it's less about impressing peers than about having enough space to use a home for multiple purposes.


According to research from Extra Space Storage, there appears to be a shift from downtown living to surrounding suburbs. Suburban homes tend to have more space and highly-rated school districts. Now that more people are working from home and no longer deal with a daily commute, moving to the 'burbs makes sense for some.


Another reason folks may be heading to the suburbs is relative affordability. Suburban homes tend to cost less than homes closer to cities. Affordability plays a significant role in where people are willing to move. Given the unemployment rates in 2020 and into 2021, it's no surprise that people want a home they can afford even if things go south. More money in the bank account means more security.

Where are they going?

When Extra Space Storage looked into where people moved in 2021, they noticed some trends they believe will carry over into this year. States with lower living costs and more space attract the most significant numbers of new residents. They include:


Digital nomads seeking sunshine and heat get plenty of both in Arizona, making it the top destination for Americans moving to a new state.


Relocations are on the rise in Florida. Again, warm weather is a huge draw. So is the fact that Florida has no state income tax, and property taxes are low.


It was only a matter of time before more people figured out how huge and sparsely populated Idaho is. More than twice as many people moved to the state than moved out in 2020.

North Carolina

With its low cost of living, opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, and its rank as one of the top states for remote work, North Carolina is another popular destination for movers. Add to that the number of big companies that have moved to the state, and it's easy to see why its population is rapidly expanding.

South Carolina

The median home price in Charleston and Columbia -- two of the most popular cities in South Carolina -- comes in at $300,000. That's incredibly affordable compared to many areas of the country, and is a draw for people who have no interest in taking out a large mortgage.


Texas is another state with an influx of new businesses. While big cities like Austin and Dallas continue to thrive, smaller suburban towns like Richmond and Katy have seen the most dramatic growth. That's because these towns (and towns like them across the state) offer a low cost of living and affordable housing.

Someday, when the pandemic is behind us, we may look back and remember this time as a period of reflection. And as it turns out, a whole lot of us thought about what we wanted in life and realized we would need to move to find it.

Our Research Expert

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