Americans Hoping to Lower Costs Are Moving to This State

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In 2020, people hoping to cut costs packed up the jalopy and headed to Idaho.

The state had the highest share of new residents who said they relocated specifically due to the cost of living, according to the 44th annual United Van Lines National Migration Study.

The study — which uses both company data based on customers’ 2020 state-to-state migration patterns and a survey that asks folks why they moved — also found that Idaho had the highest percentage of inbound moves among all states experiencing more than 250 moves: 70% of moves across Idaho state lines were inbound, with 30% being outbound.

It was the second straight year Idaho took that honor in the United Van Lines survey.

In general, 2020 solidified trends that have been evident in recent years. In a press announcement, Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, says:

“United Van Lines’ data makes it clear that migration to western and southern states, a prevalent pattern for the past several years, persisted in 2020. However, we’re seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt accelerated broader moving trends, including retirement driving top inbound regions as the Baby Boomer generation continues to reach that next phase of life.”

Cutting costs was likely a strong motivator during 2020, a year when many lost their jobs or saw their incomes drop. The top 10 states that attracted those who were focused on cost of living were:

  1. Idaho
  2. Kentucky
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Delaware
  5. Tennessee
  6. Nevada
  7. North Carolina
  8. South Carolina
  9. Missouri
  10. Arizona

The survey also found that people left big cities in favor of smaller cities in 2020, a trend that is likely a result of the pandemic. Experiencing higher shares of outbound moves were New York City (72% outbound); Newark, New Jersey (72%); and Chicago (69%).

By contrast, lower-density cities saw more inbound moves. Such cities include Wilmington, North Carolina (79% inbound), and Boise, Idaho (75%).

Of course, smaller cities also are likely to be less expensive than big metros like New York and Chicago.

Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines, says the company’s data suggests that as more people work remotely, they have more flexibility about where they live — and many are choosing to move from urban to more rural areas.

Are you thinking of relocating in 2021? Before you do, check out “9 Places That Will Pay You to Move There in 2021.”

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