Where is America moving? 2017 Migration Patterns

To kick off 2018, North American Van Lines has released their 2017 Migration Report, which covers the state-to-state relocation of millions of Americans over each of the past seven years.

While there are a multitude of reasons a family or individual might choose to move to a different state, these migration patterns provide important insight into the overall behavior of Americans looking for the location that best suits their needs, whether they be financial, educational, or occupational.

In this report, you will find not only an interactive migration map of the United States, but also a list of the top inbound and outbound states, key takeaways that show notable changes in recent years, and regional breakdowns that detail important developments in those particular states.



Where is America moving?

Since January 1993, Atlas Van Lines has reviewed and released data on the origins and destinations of interstate (or between states) moves throughout the previous calendar year. The 2017 Migration Patterns study results provide a snapshot of relocation patterns. This year, 28 states, in addition to Washington D.C., registered as balanced, 10 states were outbound, 10 states were inbound, and 2 were undefined.


States with the highest percentage of inbound moves:

  • Arizona (67%)
  • Idaho (63%)
  • North Carolina (62%)
  • South Carolina (62%)
  • Tennessee (58%)

States with the highest percentage of outbound moves:

  • Illinois (68%)
  • Connecticut (62%)
  • New Jersey (62%)
  • California (60%)
  • Michigan (59%)


In 2017, this is the first year Arizona has been the leader in inbound moves. They have come in second each of the last 3 years. Illinois topped the outbound moves list for the 3rd time since 2011. For the last 5 years, the states with the highest move totals haven’t changed. They are as follows: Florida, California, and Texas. Tennessee made its first debut in the Top 5 most inbound states. California made its first debut in the Top 5 most outbound states.



Other migration trends:


Northeast Region

Connecticut has consistently been in the top 10 of outbound moves since 2013. It was #1 in 2013 and #2 in 2017. Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have also made the list consistently since 2013. Maine and Rhode Island have both gone back and forth in having more inbound and outbound moves over the years.

South Region

South Carolina was in the #1 spot in 2013 and 2014, then started to slip down. They were still in the top 4 but lost their top ranking as the state with the most inbound moves. North Carolina beat South Carolina for the first time in 2016 and kept their rank in 2017. Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Texas remained constant in the top 10 from 2013-2017. Overall, the Southern states have had more inbound moves than some of the other regions.

Midwest Region

Illinois has consistently been in the top 3 positions of outbound moves since 2013, getting the #1 position 3 times. Michigan has been on the top 10 list of states with the most outbound moves since 2013. Iowa consistently had more outbound moves than inbound until 2017, when it had more people move to the state than out of the state. Kansas has consistently had slightly more outbound moves, as well as North Dakota and Ohio. South Dakota has gone back and forth in having more outbound and inbound moves. Wisconsin was consistently having more outbound moves until 2016.

West Region

In 2013 and 2014, Idaho wasn’t in the top inbound states. Then in 2015 it was #1. It remained #1 in 2016 and slipped to #2 in 2017. It is currently the nation’s fastest growing state, with its population increasing 2.2% between July 2016 and July 2017. Oregon, Arizona and Colorado have consistently been in the top 10, with Arizona #2 for 3 years and topping at #1 in 2017. The western states also have had more overall inbound moves that the Midwest and Northeast.


Our Methodology

This is our data of all state inbound and out bound COD moves (consumer moves). We define the top inbound and outbound state as those that have the highest proportion of moves where the absolute value difference of inbound and outbound moves is greater than or equal to 400. This weeds out states that had a small number of moves but would have a high ratio of inbound/outbound moves.
For an infographic on the results, visit the 2017 Migration Patterns Infographic (includes previous years back to 2011).