Where America Is Moving

Once remote work became a new accepted reality in early 2020, Americans have been on the move.  Free of the obligation to live in a certain place to pursue their career or passion, many have opted to move to less expensive and less crowded parts of the country.  United Van Lines recently released their 2021 National Movers Study and its contents are instructive for any Gent pondering a move for himself.

Where People Are Leaving

While United Van Lines only represents one segment of the population, those who used a moving company to relocate, the results can still be extrapolated to have a reasonable correlation with the trends in the general population.

Top “get outta Dodge” states in 2021 were:

  • New Jersey (repeat “winner” from the previous year)
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • Nebraska

Six out of the ten states are coastal, where there are large concentrations of jobs and plenty of entertainment and cultural options.  But with more job flexibility and a lot of that entertainment currently restricted or, in some cases, gone for the moment, people are opting for different values when thinking about where to live.

The survey also revealed that 31.8% of these Americans on the move did so in order to be closer to their families.

Where People Are Going

Not wanting to replicate an environment of dense population, those who moved opted for uncrowded destinations, including:

  • Vermont
  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Rhode Island

Compared to the previous list, this one represents almost “another” America.  These states are mostly “red” in contrast to the almost entirely “blue” previous list.  Assuming that Americans don’t just change their political convictions because they are moving states, we may see political realignments for the current residents as the new immigrants settle in.  What will happen next?  It’s anyone’s guess.

These states offer much less population concentration.  With the exception of Florida, which has several medium to large sized cities, the rest of the list offers more living options that are in sparsely populated areas.  

FYI, Kentucky and Wyoming saw almost the same number of inbound as outbound residents and are classified as “balanced” by the United Van Lines report.

Thoughts On a Move

So, while family might be a consideration for where you want to move, what happens if your family already live near each other, and you’re all considering a move?  Here are some things you might keep in mind as you consider your options.

Government and Infrastructure

People got to see how many state governments responded to one of the biggest crises in a generation.  With those “report cards” available to anyone willing to do a bit of research, you can find out if the dissatisfaction with how your state may have handled Covid-19 will simply be replicated in your new destination.

What about infrastructure?  In more than one place in the US the difference is so obvious that the moment you cross a state line the roads become better (or worse).  What’s the trajectory?  Failing infrastructure is a hidden danger that many of us can’t easily see.

Lifestyle and Quality of Life

A lot of Americans couldn’t travel abroad easily in the last couple years, so they have rediscovered one of our greatest treasures, the National Parks.  Alas, this has also meant a bit more crowds than usual and the Park Service has had to adapt, but access to National Parks, Battlefields, Monuments, etc. are a great reason to move somewhere.

Maybe you love a maker culture, where people have, long before a supply chain crisis, been making their own local cheese, whiskey, bread, clothes, and even mechanical parts.  Such locally-focused cities and towns haven’t had the same shortages that others have had simply because they’ve already got a backup mechanism in place.

Energy and the Environment

We’ve seen some places subject to electrical outages, which is just as much a problem of an aging national grid as it is of how power is generated at the state level.  Montana is an excellent model of how a state with major traditional energy reserves has rapidly diversified into renewables.  This isn’t to get into a debate about the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy (that’s something we can discuss in a future article) but merely to point out that it’s always good to have more than one option when it comes to your energy sources.

How does the state cope with natural disasters?  How frequently do such disasters occur?  How is the environment treated?  Is there an eye towards sustainability in how natural resources are managed?

The People and the Future

Perhaps the most important aspect of a state, a job, or even our families is the people.  What are the people of a given state like?  How do they treat others, including the least fortunate?  What’s their outlook on the future of their state (and of the country)?  We’re often going to disagree with our neighbors on some of these issues, but what matters is whether they are willing to have a civilized conversation with you rather than box you in a category and label you something because you don’t possess the same worldview they do.  It’s simply easier to live in places where people have conversations instead of shouting at each other.

Remember that there’s no reason for you to move anywhere without a preview.  Even a couple weeks spent remote working or staying in a state on a vacation can give you a much better insight into whether it’s worth moving your life there.  The most important aspect of one of these potential scouting trips is conversation with the locals.  They will give you the scoop on all the aspects we mentioned above and then some.

Photo by Handiwork NYC on Unsplash

Have you moved since March 2020 or are you considering a move?  Let us know in the comments.

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