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Americans routinely pull up stakes for different states

Updated: 2019-01-10 23:12

While a recent survey found that career moves and retirement were major reasons for Americans to relocate, three of the top four states on the outbound lists are pretty pricey places to live.

United Van Lines' 42nd Annual National Movers Study, which tracked customers' state-to-state migration patterns over the past year, found that New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and New York were the states that people were moving from the most.

The three northeastern states in particular have a high cost of living, which usually is made up of housing costs, state and city income and property taxes, insurance and a state's liabilities, such as pensions.

"As the state's handful of fiscally responsible politicians were quick to point out upon the release of the new study, high taxes are a major component of each of the reasons cited by United for bolting New Jersey," the Asbury Park Press wrote in an editorial Friday. "Far too many people simply can't afford to live here."

The other states with the most outbound moves, in order, were Kansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Iowa, Montana and Michigan.

New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts also are states with significant Asian-American populations.

Vermont (72.6 percent) was the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration, followed by Oregon, with 63.8 percent.

More than 41 percent of those who left New York earn $150,000 or more, although, not surprisingly, a good chunk of the Empire State's new arrivals — 46.2 percent — earn $150,000 or more, according to the study.

States in the Mountain West and Pacific West regions, including Oregon, Idaho (62.4 percent), Nevada (61.8 percent), Washington (58.8 percent) and South Dakota (57 percent) are popular spots for inbound moves.

Several southern states also experienced high inbound migration, such as South Carolina (59.9 percent) and North Carolina (57 percent).

United Van Lines determined the top reasons for moving to the South include job change (46.6 percent) and retirement (22.3 percent).

In the Northeast, however, a load-up-the-truck trend continues.

New Jersey, which has regularly topped the list, Connecticut (62 percent) and New York (61.5 percent) were among the top 10 outbound states for the fourth consecutive year.

Midwestern states like Illinois (65.9 percent), Kansas (58.7 percent), Ohio (56.5 percent) and Iowa (55.5 percent) saw high outbound relocation as well.

A leading motivator behind the migration patterns across all regions is a career change, as the survey showed approximately 1 out of every 2 people who moved in the past year did so for a new job or company transfer.

Idaho saw the largest influx of new residents desiring a lifestyle change (25.95 percent), and more people flocked to New Mexico for retirement than any other state (42.74 percent).

"The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates," said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Unlike a few decades ago, retirees are leaving California, instead choosing other states in the Pacific West and Mountain West. We're also seeing young professionals migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington DC and Seattle."

Sure, a new job or retirement to a warmer clime may be motivating factors, but ultimately, I think it comes down to the bottom line.

The states high on the outbound list tend to have high property values, so you can sell your house up north, take the proceeds, and probably buy a place twice as big for half the price down south.

In several states, the number of residents moving in was approximately the same as the number moving out. Arkansas and Mississippi are among the "balanced states".

An outlier in the study is Hawaii. Because of its location far from the US mainland, it is a very expensive place to live. But Hawaii is also a paradise, so it is one example where the high cost is probably worth the price in quality of life.

Contact the writer at williamhennelly@chinadailyusa.com

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