Moving to another state or country means we have to say goodbye to our loved ones. It’s a bittersweet feeling. Many people in the United States are moving to seek a better life for themselves and their families. While work is usually the main reason for fleeing the state, there are also some other factors that influence their decision. United Van Lines releases annual data on the number of residents leaving and joining each state. Here is a list of states that Americans like and dislike the most.
For more than a decade, New Jersey has been one of the top 10 move-out states on the United Van Lines’s list. Retirement and jobs are the reasons why people decide to pack their bags and leave. Taxes are another major problem in New Jersey, as it has one of the highest tax rates in the United States. According to Reddit user bjorn2bwild, just pretty much everything in New Jersey is expensive. “We have high property taxes if you want to live in a decent area. School districts are very closely tied to municipalities, so if you want your kids to go to a good school, prepare to pay for it. Auto insurance, tolls, most goods and services are all very high.”
Illinois comes second on the United Van Lines’ list. According to a survey from the University of Illinois Springfield and NPR Illinois, 77% of responders believe the state’s economy is fair or poor. 3 out of 5 responders admitted they have thought about moving to another state due to high tax rates. Quora commenter Michael Kong believes education plays a significant role in the tax system. “I can say it has something to do with supporting the local school system,” he wrote. “Every year, I receive a letter explaining where my property tax goes into. From the letter, I can see about $8,000 goes to the public school system, and another $2,000 goes to the community college.”
Life in New York City is expensive. Rent can go up to $5,000 a month, and the typical home value in the city is $632,271. To live somewhat comfortably in NYC, you have to make at least $50,000 a year, even if you have roommates with you to split the accommodation cost. Taxes are another reason why people decide to say goodbye to New York and move elsewhere.
The United Van Lines has put Connecticut in 4th place on their list. People in the state are currently losing a lot of their income due to the high cost of living. According to MERIC data, everything in Connecticut is way too overpriced, especially the utilities and housing. 35% of residents who left the state did so because they wanted to retire in another state. Jobs are another reason why people decide to leave Connecticut.
Looks like Dorothy’s sentiment, “There’s no place like home,” isn’t enough to keep Americans in Kansas. More than half left the state because due to work. Family factors and retirement were each factors for a quarter of those who left Kansas for good. Even though it’s not very difficult to find a job in Kansas and the cost of living is much lower than in other states, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates that people in Kansas earn $6,000 less per year than the country’s average.
More than half of the people who left the state did so because of work, although the wages in Ohio are also below average. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that Ohio has a high unemployment rate at 4.2%. A Redditor DJWLJR claims the weather is another major reason why people leave Ohio: “It’s too hot, or too cold, and not enough of spring or fall. The weather here is erratic and sometimes very extreme.”
Surprisingly, the Golden State also made it on the United Van Lines’ list. The number one reason for people leaving California is work, although many others chose to come there to find a job. And who can blame them, it’s hard to resist Silicon Valley and the Land of Hollywood. Along with Hawaii and the District of Columbia, California is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.
Michigan has a high unemployment rate – 4.1%, but even those who are lucky to find a job are struggling. In 2019, the Michigan Association of United Ways noted an increase in the number of households in the state who struggle to afford basic services. It’s very rare in Michigan to find a job that pays more than $20 per hour. The state also lacks culture. “That means less fine arts, no world-class museums, fewer jobs in banking/finance. People who prefer/need big cities usually head for Chicago, New York, Boston or San Francisco,” wrote a Reddit user homerinthedetails.
Departures: 55.2 %
While the unemployment rate in North Dakota remains low at 2.4%, almost 60% of Americans left the state to find a better job elsewhere. While finding work in North Dakota might not be hard, but it seems like those aren’t the jobs the residents want to have. Reddit user Modern_rabbit suggests North Dakota is way too laidback, which can come as a “culture shock” to others. “Lack of public transportation, lack of style, lack of flavor, lack of air pollution (and) lack of seafood,” he wrote.
It looks like the beautiful golden cornfields aren’t enough to make people stay. One of the main reasons why Americans leave Iowa is work. More than 68% of those who left did so to seek better job opportunities. Even though the state has a low unemployment rate and cost of living, its population hasn’t been growing that fast. The Census data shows the population in Iowa has increased by only 3.6% during the last decade, while the national average is 6.3%.
Massachusetts is home to Harvard, Mayflower, Boston Tea Party, and a high cost of living. If you want to live in Boston, expect to set aside at least $3,462 for rent. The rent prices in Boston have been increasing by 4.1% every year. Currently, the average cost of rent in the state is $1,463. “There’s not enough housing to satisfy the demand. Unions make construction extremely expensive, and a requirement for the developer to give away a certain number of units for next to nothing makes building anything but luxury housing unprofitable,” said Reddit user UebuNogami.
The biggest problem in Louisiana is the high unemployment rate of 4.9%. It’s way above the national rate, and according to census data, almost every fifth resident is living below the poverty line. More than 70% of Americans who left Louisiana did so to find a job. Another reason for people leaving the state is extremely hot weather. “It is horribly hot in the summer. (100 degrees with 100% humidity). Summer lasts from April until September/October. It gets cold once a week for two whole days, then it warms back up,” Delani Lass shared on Quora.
There are many reasons why people decide to leave this beautiful place. Work, family, retirement, and lifestyle are the main reasons Americans flee the Land of Shining Mountains. According to a 2019 economic study by the University of Montana, housing is becoming less and less affordable. And while living in Montana might seem like a dream to many, the reality doesn’t exactly match. “Isolation. At first, this sounds awesome. Spending all your time in the glorious beauty of Montana. Green trees, blue sky, crisp air, zero pollution. Until you realize that that’s not typical of Montana living and you’ll be isolated somewhere like Billings or Great Falls where the isolation isn’t beautiful and wisdom-inspiring, it’s just living in the middle of nowhere without a mountain in sight,” said Redditor DoctorBadger101
Virginia has one of the slowest population growth rates in the country. Every year, tens of thousands of people leave the state, with 53% of them doing so to find a job. Interestingly enough, many people come to Virginia to find a job. Redditor boognish83 offered some other reasons why Virginia can’t seem to keep its residents. “Traffic is consistently terrible. I’m from Pittsburgh originally, and Norfolk actually changed the way I drive now. Flooding is pretty out of control in many areas. Also housing is pretty expensive for what it is; that might be everywhere, though,” he explained.
More than 50% of people who left Wisconsin did so to find work. Other common reasons for fleeing the state are lifestyle, retirement, and family. More than half of those who moved from the state were 55 years old and older, so they are likely deciding to move for good. The freezing temperatures in Wisconsin don’t help either. “You’ll notice a lot of people break plans in the winter because of the cold. No one will directly say it, but it happens regularly that plans with people will get a, ‘I’m feeling kinda tired,’ which translates to, ‘I’m under the blankets, and Netflix is already on.’ It’s pretty frustrating,” Redditor TopOTheMuffin explained.
The minimum wage in Kentucky is just $7.25 per hour, so it’s not surprising that most people are leaving the state to find work. The unemployment rate is also high at 4.3%. Many people struggle to make ends meet and have no other choice but move elsewhere. Reddit user Bnlol1, who has lived in Kentucky, suggested others to move somewhere else. “The commute in the morning will suck, but extra pay will make up for it, and there’s a much larger job market and opportunities in southern Indiana.”
Despite a low unemployment rate and its affordability, Indiana is losing a lot of its residents who decide to flee the state to find work. The state has a lower cost of living comparing to other states; however, this also means lower pay. The minimum wage in Indiana is only $7.25 per hour, which isn’t worth it. According to Redditor Sla963, “Your salary won’t be as high as it is on the coasts because the cost of living is low. So if you save 10% of your salary, you’re not saving as much money,”
More than 72% of residents who left Mississippi last year did so to find work. The state’s unemployment rate is 5.7%, which is higher than the national rate by more than two percentage points. Even those who stay in the state are forced to look for a job elsewhere. “Minimum wage is the norm at most non-factory jobs. Benefits are hard to come by as well. In my county alone, most workers have to travel out of state for decent jobs,” Timothy Dunaway shared on Quora.
It looks like Minnesota isn’t producing enough “bread and butter” to keep its residents. Many people continue to leave the state to find work. Although the state’s unemployment is lower than the national average, the rate continues to rise. In December 2020 the unemployment rate rose to 3.3%, while the year before it was 2.9%. According to residents, the wear is another major problem, as it’s either too hot or too cold.
It seems like retiring by the sea isn’t a dream of many. Most people who left Maryland did so to find a job, while others fled to retire elsewhere. 25% of residents who left the state were 55 years or older. Life in Maryland is expensive, and people would rather retire in another state with a lower cost-of-living. The average price for a house is also way above the nation’s average. Still, Maryland has a big advantage – affordable healthcare.
People are leaving behind Utah’s natural beauty and some of the best skiing resorts in the country to seek employment in another state. Interestingly enough, 13% of residents left the state to change their lifestyle. The tech industry in Utah has been thriving, and it has caused some major problems for its residents. “The housing market is going nuts with the tech companies moving in. Rent and housing are way over-inflated,” wrote TaddWinter on Reddit. “(Salt Lake City) and St. George are booming, diverse places, but the rest of the state is the total opposite.”
Pennsylvania is home to Hershey’s chocolate, bountiful farmland, and beautiful countryside landscapes. Between 2008 and 2018, Pennsylvania has lost around 80,000 manufacturing jobs, and currently, manufacturers employ only 9.5% of the state’s workforce. “My job relocated me to the Scranton area, where I made the grave mistake of purchasing a home. A very depressed and unkept area. While paying dirt-cheap taxes is a plus, the reverse of this is that there is little to no public upkeep and basic necessities, such as removal of storm damage and roadside cleanup, are nonexistent,” Christopher David shared on Quora.
Comparing to other states, Missouri suffers from low rates of postsecondary and high school education. The weather is another factor that sends people away. “We get winter storms blowing in from the northwest all winter, so it feels like you are living in Canada, and the summers are brutal, with all of July and August at 95+ degrees and 100% humidity. It sucks so bad, that it is our prime motivation to move away,” shared an anonymous Redditor.
In 2019, Idaho was ranked first among the states with the highest percentage of inbound moves in the United States. The low cost of living and the growing job market is attracting Americans from all over the country, especially those working in IT. In Boise, you can expect to pay $332,698 for a home, while in San Francisco, the same home would cost you $1.3 million. Many residents believe Idaho is an ideal place to raise children. “I loved the fact that my kids knew their teachers in and out of the classroom. I knew their bus drivers and knew my kids were in good hands,” Diane Allen wrote on Quora.
Oregon is home to rich vegetation, plentiful trees, and it also has a decent amount of tech industry jobs around Hillsboro and Portland. “There are hundreds of satellite offices of … big companies that support the semiconductor industry,” Anil Kumar wrote on Quora. “Additionally, Nike, Columbia, and Fisher Investments are headquartered in Portland Metro.”
The Grand Canyon State is an ideal location to move to due to its low cost of living and plenty of sunny days. A Quora user Erica Larson Odello says that it’s easy to fit in in Arizona. “You don’t have to live in a giant city or suburb,” she writes. “We have artist communities; you can live on a ranch, you can live far away from other people [or] you can live just close enough to get the benefits of urban areas without the inconvenience.”
South Carolina is known for its laid-back lifestyle, beautiful landscapes, and pleasant climate. Americans from all over the country flee to South Carolina to start a new life for themselves. Between July 2018 and July 2019, the state ranked sixth in terms of the highest rate of population growth in the United States. “Cost of living is dirt cheap,” says Alexander Lay on Quora. “I moved from North Carolina, and the cost of living decrease essentially acted as a 20% raise.”
The state has a high population growth due to vast job opportunities for recent graduates. Washington is home to Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks headquarters. In 2019, approximately half of those who decided to move to the Evergreen State did so to find work. The wages also seem to match the higher cost of living. “Housing is where we saw a big jump in cost,” says Reddit user ZombieLibrarian, who moved to Washington from Kentucky with his wife. “The jump in cost was exceeded by the jump in our salaries, though, so it sounded a lot scarier than it actually was.”
Florida is known for its beautiful coastlines and sunny year-round weather. More than 40% of all people who moved to Florida were retirees. “Living in Florida, in my opinion, is like no other life you could ever imagine,” Mace Andrews said on Quora . “The dress code is literally shorts, T-shirts, tank tops and flip flops.” Unfortunately, Florida’s economy has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, so if you’re thinking about moving there, make sure you get a job offer first.
While South Dakota may have a relatively small population at the moment, more and more people are moving there. “The air is clear from smog, leaving … the earthy smell of the fields to travel far on the wind,” says Amanda Fristrom on Quora. “The harvest season brings deep red sunsets and striking sunrises… [and] at night the stars are clear and numerous.” Interestingly enough, more than 70% of those who moved out of the Mount Rushmore State did so to find a job elsewhere.
North Carolina is attracting new residents with its low real estate prices. You can afford a lot more in the Tar Heel State than in other states. According to Jon Mixon on Quora: “You can buy a nice home on a sizable lot for far less than you would in many major metro areas.” Mixon also mentions that scenery is another big attraction to newcomers. “The shoreline is one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. Living there would be like a dream for many… except during hurricane season.”
Tennessee is home to the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, and Dollywood and is also a great place for those who would like to save their hard-earned cash. The state is very attractive to Americans due to its low tax rates. “Tax wise, people tend to love Tennessee,” says Logan Flowers on Quora. “There is no income tax. Period. None. Property taxes are also extremely low. Sales tax can be rather high … with most places resting somewhere between 9-10%,” he warned. New Mexico had the same percentage of arrivals as Tennessee – 56.1%. “The landscape is amazing. Awesome scenery everywhere,” says Ih8Hondas on Reddit.
The gambling capital of the United States is attracting more and more Americans every year. Former Nevada president Albert Hagan says, “There are a few proud natives who were born there, but most residents are from somewhere else, so the people are interesting.” Although it looks like the wages in Nevada aren’t the best. “I would move back to Nevada in a minute if I could make what I make now in my current field,” Hagan writes. “Not happening any time soon.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the state has the third youngest population in the country. In 2019, Texas jumped five spots on the ranking of inbound moves. “It has a handful of large metropolitan areas, with lots of cool neighborhoods, amazing food, barbecue and nightlife,” says Reddit user getoutmyway98. “Cost of living is low, so suburban Texans, I find, tend to live in pretty big houses.”
Despite plenty of Americans moving there, Alabama’s job market is a big cause for concern. 75% of people who had left the state did so because of work. Quora commenter Steven Mann shared, “Although the cost of living is pretty low, the income and job market is also pretty weak, which makes making money difficult,” However, for some people, Alabama has many opportunities. “Doctors and lawyers are almost worshipped down here,” he said.
Delaware’s strong job market is attracting more and more Americans, and its population is getting closer to the 1 million mark. Delaware resident John Nowaczyk wrote on Quora, “There is … a good deal of diversity, with engineers, scientists and executives from all over the world attracted to jobs in our chemical, pharmaceutical and financial services industries.” The state also offers “a good blend of urban, suburban and rural lifestyles and perspectives all squeezed into a relatively small and manageable package.”
Wyoming has the lowest population density in the entire country and is home to six national parks and scenic views. This state is an ideal place for those who prefer nature over people, and it also offers opportunities for entrepreneurs. “Wyoming is great for a small business. “Registering your business… is cheap and easy. There is no individual income tax in Wyoming, so that helps a lot,” wrote Reddit user Mycotoxin.
People not only like Colorado for its beautiful views but also the stable job market. Between the end of 2018 and the end of 2019, the state had a 2.1% increase in the number of jobs. The annual wages in Colorado are also approximately $2,100 higher than the national average. Those who are planning to move to Colorado should keep in mind the state’s high elevation. “When I came home from the airport on my first day, I threw up,” Bosch says. “Altitude sickness is very real, and it takes time to acclimate to the thin air and necessity to drink more water,” says Quora commenter Beatrice Bosch.
Even though Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, its charm definitely makes up for it. The beauty comes with a price tag, though. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive states in the United States. “I love R.I., but it’s expensive. Taxes are high, and cost of living is high. Make sure you have a job prior to moving,” says Reddit user mooscaretaker.
As its official motto goes, “Live Free Or Die.” Thousands of Americans chose New Hampshire for its promise of freedom. As Reddit user dcs1289 says, “There’s no sales tax, no state income tax, cheap liquor, and legal fireworks!” However, there are some cons of living in the Granite State. “Property taxes are high… [and] the climate is pretty extreme –– below zero temps in the winter, up to 100+ in the summer,” he says.
Despite Arkansas moving up seven spots on United Van Line’s ranking, many people continue to flee the state to search for a better job. A lack of work is not the reason for their motives, though. “Depending on your industry, there are a lot of jobs in Arkansas that offer a decent wage without much work experience… [but] the fact that we’re a right-to-work state with very little union support does push wages down a lot,” says JaysusMoon on Reddit.
While Georgia may sound like a dream state to many, there are some downsides to living in the Peach State. “I had to get over sticker-shock when finding a house to buy,” says Quora commenter Mitch Anderson. “It’s quite a bit more expensive here.” In addition, the annual salary in the state is approximately $7,000 below the national average, so it’s better to have a job lined up for you before deciding to move there for good.
When John Denver described the state as “almost Heaven,” he definitely wasn’t thinking of its job market. Most Americans who fled West Virginia did so to find work. Still, the beautiful nature of the state continues to attract more and more newcomers every year. “The physical beauty is really hard to surpass. The only downside has to be the lack of upwardly mobile employment opportunities. High-technology jobs are extremely tough to find and concentrated in smaller, family-owned firms,” Brian Piercy said on Quora.
Nebraska’s affordable cost of living and low-key lifestyle is an excellent location for Americans who would like to settle down and start a family. “No one lives here because it’s a destination. We live here because we are hardworking people that like to keep most of what we earn,” says Reddit user timthetoolmantooth. Still, some Americans struggle to make a living in Nebraska. Around 70% of people who left the state did so to find a job.
Oklahoma is seeing the same number of people leaving and moving in mostly because of work. 64% of people who had left the state did so to find a job. The minimum wage in Oklahoma is just $7.27 per hour. “A terrible amount of our government spending comes from taxation of one industry: oil. We run the risk of going broke every time the oil boom/bust cycle hits its low,” says John Davis on Quora. Meanwhile, Maine sees slightly more Americans moving in than leaving the state. The main reason for moving from Maine was family, followed by work. “Commuting 50+ miles for a $10/hr job is not unheard of. From Van Buren to Easton, for instance. I know several people who do that,” says Redditor nomocactusnames.