States Americans are moving to — and the states they are ditching

The pandemic sparked a restlessness in American life, with many families opting to move in search of more space or a lower cost of living. That trend continued in 2022, with hundreds of thousands of people uprooting their lives and moving to new states. 

But some regions are benefitting from an influx of new residents — a trend that can help those areas grow their economies and expand their tax bases — while others are witnessing a net loss of residents. About 25 U.S. states saw more people move within their boundaries last year, while about 25 states lost residents or were relatively flat, according to an analysis of census data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The states that are gaining residents share a few traits, said Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of real estate research at NAR. For one, many are states with job markets that grew faster than average during the pandemic. And secondly, they are also states where housing is more affordable and available than in parts of the country that lost residents.

The states that attracted the most new residents in 2022 are Florida, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina, followed by other states in the South and West.

“Everybody knows about the low taxes and great weather in these areas, but something else that makes these areas popular is the robust job market recovery after the pandemic,” Evangelou told CBS News. “Not only were their economies able to recover all the jobs that were lost, but there are 5% more jobs now than there were in 2020.”

There could be another reason why Southern and Western states drew more residents last year: Low taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. Some high-tax states, like California and New York, lost residents in 2022.

Florida was the biggest net gainer last year, with about 319,000 people migrating into the state, the NAR analysis found. California lost the most residents, with 343,000 leaving the state for other regions.

“This population shift paints a clear picture: People left high-tax, high-cost states for lower-tax, lower-cost alternatives,” wrote policy analyst Janelle Fritts in a blog post earlier this month. 

Still, taxes may play just a small part in a family’s decision to move. More affordable housing and plentiful jobs could be more of a draw, according to a new analysis of New York migration patterns from the Fiscal Policy Institute. Last year, almost 300,000 people left New York state.

People who move out of New York state typically save 15 times more from lower housing costs than from tax savings, the new analysis found. 

“Of the top twenty largest county-to-county flows out of New York State, median housing costs were substantially lower in the destination county,” the analysis noted. “On average, annual mortgage costs for median-priced homes are $18,300 lower in destination counties — a savings of 34 percent — than in New York origin counties.”

The cities that attracted the most in-bound moves last year are located in Florida, Texas and the Carolinas, the NAR analysis found. Cities including Ocala and Tallahassee in Florida and Houston, Texas, were among the large cities where inbound moves exceeded outbound moves by more than six percentage points, NAR said.

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