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Where Are People Moving in 2021?

COVID-19 dramatically changed the way we live and work in countless ways. In fact, one of the most interesting results of the pandemic has been the increase in the number of people looking to move. 56% of Americans plan to move in 2021, compared to just 35% that moved in 2020. Due to the shifting economy, rise in remote work opportunities, and desire to relocate to less densely populated areas, more than one in five Americans have either moved during the pandemic or knows someone who did. How will U.S. moving patterns continue to change in 2021? Here are some migration trends to keep an eye on in the coming year!

Moving Trends for 2021

Couple taping a moving box while packing a house. Photo by Instagram user @ourtownamerica

Photo via @ourtownamerica

As we examined various U.S. moving studies from 2020, there were some trends that stood out and may help predict how and where Americans will live in 2021.

Affordable Living Is at a Premium

With the economy in an uncertain state and unemployment still at high levels, Americans are looking to relocate to cities with low living and housing costs. 37% of 2020 movers couldn’t afford their current housing due to COVID-related loss of job or income, and nearly half of Americans are thinking about moving to reduce living expenses.

Even Americans with financial security are moving away from cities with high living expenses. The rise of remote work has allowed many Americans who previously lived in expensive cities to relocate to more affordable locations. Without the need to live in large metros and business hubs, many are opting for cities with affordable housing and living expenses. This is one of the big reasons why Americans living in urban areas say they’re twice as likely to move out compared to those living in rural or suburban areas.

Movers Are Looking to Spread Out

In an effort to avoid crowded areas and contact with strangers, many movers opted for more spacious areas in 2020, a moving trend that’s expected to continue in 2021. 39% of people living in urban areas said COVID-19 has caused them to consider leaving for a less crowded space, and nearly 30% of 2020 movers relocated out of fear of contracting the virus.

More Americans are seeking homes with additional outdoor space and less cramped quarters. People want homes with porches, spacious backyards, and room to breathe. The desire for more space has American movers flocking to Idaho, New Mexico, and Maine, which are among the least densely populated states in America. On the flip side, the top four states people departed from in 2020—New York, California, Illinois, and the District of Columbia—are all among the 15 most densely populated states in the U.S.

Work-from-Home Opportunities Are Attractive

The growth of remote work opportunities could cause a massive shift in U.S. 2021 moving trends. Between 14 and 23 million Americans are planning to relocate due to remote work opportunities, and more than half (54.7%) of them are moving more than two hours away from their current location. Those with remote-working jobs no longer have to adhere to the high housing costs of massive labor markets, and a large portion of those individuals are taking advantage of the opportunity of less expensive homes.

As more Americans have experienced remote work, its desirability has increased. If Americans don’t already have a work-from-home job that allows them to live where they want, they’re looking to move to cities where remote work opportunities are more plentiful. Nearly 10% of the population in cities like Raleigh, Austin, and Denver work from home, making them attractive destinations.

People Moved to Suburbs Outside Big Cities

Though there are reports that most U.S. movers are exiting large cities en masse, there doesn’t appear to have been a definitive exodus. Rather, people are moving to smaller suburbs surrounding big cities. An examination of U.S. migration patterns revealed a nationwide move from downtown communities to the surrounding suburbs. Able to work remotely and no longer attached to city centers, homebuyers as a whole looked to purchase in less dense neighborhoods.

Interestingly, nearly 90% of Americans who moved in 2020 stayed in the same county. Take New York City, for example. In July 2020, there was a 44% increase in home sales in suburban communities surrounding NYC than during July 2019. Westchester County, which borders The Big Apple, saw a 112% increase in home sales. Meanwhile, the number of properties sold in Manhattan decreased by 56%, despite declining rental rates.

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Top States People Are Moving to

We took a look at the states that saw the most growth in 2020 and noticed some trends that could carry over into 2021. Specifically, Americans were moving to states that offered pandemic-related benefits and more affordable living.


Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Chandler all saw population growth in 2020. Since coronavirus particles disperse more quickly outdoors than they do indoors, states like Arizona that offer a warm climate and more outdoor activities have become top destinations. Living in Arizona allows residents to be near Grand Canyon National Park, enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Glen Canyon, hit the links at high-quality golf courses like Raven Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale, and explore famous ghost town Jerome.


With stunning mountain views, opportunities to hike and ski, and hip urban areas, Colorado was already a trendy state before the pandemic arrived. However, the desire to move to The Centennial State increased in 2020, as Colorado’s abundant employment opportunities, agreeable weather, laid-back vibe, and access to outdoor activities made it a popular relocation destination, especially for young people. Here, you can hike through Rocky Mountain National Park and hit the slopes in Vail or Breckenridge. Go rock climbing at Garden of the Gods and the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, or camp by a lake in the Maroon Bells Scenic Area.


Creek running through a mountain valley in Sun Valley, ID. Photo by Instagram user @sarasheehy

Photo via @sarasheehy

People looking to spread out and get away from big cities love everything Idaho has to offer. The state saw nearly three times as many people move in as move out in 2020, due in part to its low cost of living (7.8% lower than the national average) and attractiveness for retirees. It’s also one of the least densely populated states in America, giving movers plenty of room to spread out without fear of contracting the virus. Among Idaho’s many attractions are Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Lake Coeur d’Alene, and Shoshone Falls.

North Carolina

Sunset view from a dock at White Lake in North Carolina. Photo by Instagram user @whitelakejlc

Photo via @whitelakejlc

The Old North State became a popular pandemic destination, as many companies moved to more affordable locales like Durham and Raleigh. In fact, North Carolina became one of the top states for remote work. It has a lower cost of living than the national average and offers plenty of opportunities to get outdoors. Locals love to go birdwatching at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, take in breathtaking views during a hike through Chimney Rock State Park, and admire the scenic “America’s favorite drive” along Blue Ridge Parkway.


Shot of a river running through Big Bend National Park in Texas. Photo by Instagram user @bigbendnps

Photo via @bigbendnps

The sprawling prairies of the Lone Star State draw in movers seeking more space. While big cities like Austin and Dallas have experienced growth during 2020, it’s Texas’ suburbs that are really exploding. Six of the top seven cities that gained the most movers in 2020 are located in Texas, including Katy, Richmond, and Frisco. Not only does Texas offer large areas of land, great culture, and plenty of things to do, but it’s also one of the best states to get a job working from home. When you live in Texas, you can explore the extensive network of hiking trails at Big Bend National Park, splash in the surf at Stewart Beach, spray-paint your custom design on the sculptures at Cadillac Ranch, or wander through the cave systems at Natural Bridge Caverns.


Thinking about moving to a new city or state in 2021? With locations all over the country, Extra Space Storage is your go-to self storage partner for short-term and long-term storage needs. Find a storage unit near you!

Aerial shot of Chandler, AZ suburbs with mountain view.
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