1. New Jersey
Outbound moves: 68.5%
The grass is always greener outside the Garden State, as New Jersey retains its No. 1 spot from last year’s list.
Jersey has been one of the top 10 move-out states for United Van Lines for more than a decade. Jobs and retirement are equally likely to send people packing.
Taxes could be a major culprit — New Jersey has some of the highest in the country — though Reddit’s bjorn2bwild says just about everything is incredibly 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.”
Outbound moves: 66.5%
Still in the No. 2 spot following last year’s ranking, the Prairie State is known for Chicago, expansive farmland, the world’s largest bottle of catsup and high taxes.
A survey from NPR Illinois and University of Illinois Springfield saw 77% of respondents rate the economy as fair or poor. In the same survey, 3 out of 5 people said they’ve considered moving elsewhere, and taxes was the most common reason why.
Quora commenter Michael Kong suggested education is one reason taxes are so high.
“I can say it has something to do with supporting the local school system,” wrote Kong.
“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.”
3. New York
Outbound moves: 63.1%
Living in New York City is an infamous challenge, as the median home costs over $1.6 million and rent will run you around $5,000 per month.
And it’s not just the Big Apple that will take a huge bite out of your paycheck. On a cost-of-living index created by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), New York ranks fifth in the nation.
Taxes in particular are crippling. Between income, property and sales tax, you’ll lose more in New York than anywhere else.
Outbound moves: 63.0%
Some may know it as the Nutmeg State over tales of peddlers selling fake nutmeg in centuries past. But today, people in Connecticut are losing their money to the state’s over-the-top cost of living.
MERIC data shows everything is more expensive here, especially housing and utilities.
And despite its seaside appeal, Connecticut doesn’t seem like it’s retaining its retirees. Almost 35% of the people who left wanted to retire somewhere else, competing with jobs for the No. 1 reason to move.
Another compelling reason: taxes. As in many states in the Northeast, residents can expect to lose a hefty chunk of their wealth to high income and sales tax.
Outbound moves: 58.5%
As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home,” but sentiment isn’t keeping people in Kansas.
More than half shipped out for work, while retirement and family were each factors for a quarter of those who left. Though it’s cheap to live in Kansas and it’s not especially hard to find work, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows people earn about $6,000 less per year than the national average.
Lindsey Bugbee on Quora finds Western Kansas an insular place.
“Life is very slow-paced. People don’t pay attention to the world outside because Kansas is a perfect bubble of safety. In effect, some towns feel no need to distinguish themselves from other places.”
Outbound moves: 57.8%
“Why, oh why, did I ever leave Ohio? Why did I wander to find what lies yonder, when life was so cozy at home?”
The answer to that old song’s query was work for more than half who left last year. Wages in the state are a little below average, according to BLS, and unemployment is high at 4.2%.
Redditor DJWLJR says turbulent weather is one more reason to head for the hills.
“It's too hot, or too cold, and not enough of spring or fall. The weather here is erratic and sometimes very extreme.”
7. (tie) California
Outbound moves: 56.9%
The Golden State was new to the top 10 in the latest United Van Lines survey.
While work was the No. 1 reason to leave California, it was an even bigger reason to come. The land of Hollywood and Silicon Valley has an irresistible appeal.
However, the glamor comes with a price. California is the third most expensive place to live in the United States, beaten only by the District of Columbia and Hawaii on MERIC’s list.
Housing is particularly pricey, and depending on where you live, there’s always the chance your hard-earned property will be consumed by one of the state’s many wildfires.
7. (tie) Michigan
Outbound moves: 56.9%
Unemployment remains high in Michigan at 4.1%, and life can be hard even for people who do find a job.
In a 2019 study, the Michigan Association of United Ways found that the number of households that can’t afford basic services is on the rise. Low wages are the norm, with most jobs paying less than $20 per hour.
Homerinthedetails, a Redditor, feels Michigan also lacks a cultural hub.
“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,” they wrote.
“And the winters, oh god, the winters. They go on and on and on, and they are so dreary.”
9. North Dakota
Outbound moves: 55.2%
North Dakota’s wide-open spaces are feeling even more empty these days.
While almost 60% of those who left did so for better job prospects, North Dakota’s unemployment rate is extremely low at just 2.4%. It seems finding a job isn’t hard; it just might not be a job you want.
Modern_rabbit on Reddit says the laid-back atmosphere can come as a “culture shock” to newcomers, highlighting a “lack of public transportation, lack of style, lack of flavor, lack of air pollution (and) lack of seafood.”
Outbound moves: 55.0%
Golden cornfields make Iowa lovely to look at, but that hasn’t stopped people from looking elsewhere.
Work was by far the biggest reason to leave, inspiring over 68% of those who left. Despite its low cost of living and unemployment rate, Iowa hasn’t been growing very fast. According to census data, its population increased just 3.6% during the 2010s, well below the national average of 6.3%.
Slow progress is a common complaint. Former resident Hiei2k7 on Reddit misses Iowa but not its job prospects.
“I have no upward mobility there,” Hiei2k7 wrote. “Sure, I could have kept my comfy job in Cedar Rapids, kept stocking away money and just lived out the rest of my days. Or tried to get a mate and start a family. But damn if I didn't feel stagnated.”
Outbound moves: 54.8%
This state has plenty to be proud of — the Mayflower, Boston Tea Party, Harvard — but it can’t brag about its affordability.
People pay a premium to reside in Massachusetts, ranking sixth out of 52 regions on MERIC’s cost of living index.
UebuNogami on Reddit offered one explanation for why Boston in particular is so expensive.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 54.7%
Tourists come for Mardi Gras and cajun cuisine, but not everyone in Louisiana is celebrating.
Unemployment is a real problem at 4.9%, well above the national rate. Nearly one in five people in Louisiana is living below the poverty line, according to government census data.
Unsurprisingly, more than 70% of those leaving are doing so for work.
Quora commenter Delani Lass adds that the weather in southern Louisiana will leave you drained.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 53.9%
People are fleeing the Treasure State for a wealth of reasons. While work was the biggest at almost 32%, family (27%), retirement (23%) and lifestyle (almost 20%) weren’t far behind.
Though Montana is sparsely populated, a 2019 economic study by the University of Montana found that housing is an emerging affordability issue, particularly in the western part of the state.
Redditor DoctorBadger101 says the dream of living in Montana doesn’t match reality.
“Isolation. At first, this sounds awesome. Spending all your time in the glorious beauty of Montana. Green trees, blue sky, crisp air, zero pollution,” they wrote.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 52.9%
Virginia is low on lovers these days.
The state’s population is growing very slowly, possibly at its weakest rate since the 1920s, as tens of thousands of residents leave each year.
Jobs were the No. 1 incentive to leave at over 53%, though work was actually a greater motivation for those people entering the state.
boognish83 on Reddit offered some potential reasons to hit the road — or maybe not.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 52.6%
Half of those who left America’s Dairyland did so for work, but it was far from the only reason. Retirement, family and lifestyle each resonated with roughly a fifth of them.
Considering more than half who fled Wisconsin were 55 and older, there’s a good chance a lot of snowbirds are deciding to ditch the state for good. It gets down to bone-chilling temperatures in winter.
TopOTheMuffin on Reddit says Wisconsin winters can really make you a homebody.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 52.4%
It’s no surprise that work is the No. 1 reason to leave this state behind.
The minimum wage has long languished at the base federal rate of $7.25 per hour, and unemployment is high at 4.3%.
Redditor Bnlol1 advised residents to find work outside Kentucky to make ends meet.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 52.1%
Jobs were by far the biggest reason to leave Indiana, at over 64%.
At a glance, the state seems like a fine place to live. Unemployment is below the national average, and according to the MERIC it’s one of the most affordable places in the country, especially when it comes to housing.
However, with a lower cost of living comes lower pay. The average worker in Indiana earns well below the national benchmark, and the minimum wage is stuck at the base rate of $7.25 per hour.
Redditor Sla963 says the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
“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,” they say.
“This matters because Indiana is not a tax-friendly state for retirement. Spend a bit of time googling this issue, and you'll see that Indiana is actually rated (by some financial advisors, anyway) as one of the worst states for retirement. There aren't many tax breaks for the elderly here, while there are lots of them in other states.”
Outbound moves: 52.0%
It’s not just musicians singing the blues in Mississippi.
Over 72% of the people who left last year did so for work. Unemployment remains high, at 5.7% as of December, over two percentage points higher than the national rate.
Timothy Dunaway, a Quora commenter, says many of the people who stay in Mississippi have to look elsewhere for work anyway.
“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,” Dunaway says.
Outbound moves: 51.9%
Known for its wheat and dairy, the “Bread and Butter State” isn’t producing quite enough dough for its residents. Jobs are again the main reason to leave.
While it’s still better than the national average, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is rising. It crept to 3.3% in December, up from 2.9% the year before.
One ever-popular complaint is the weather. To hear some Minnesotans tell it, there’s no way to beat the winters but to leave.
“It seems like no matter what I put on I'm either still freezing or so hot I'm sweating in my clothes and then I get even colder. There is no middle ground. I hate it with a passion,” says Redditor Violinagin.
Outbound moves: 51.6%
It turns out retiring by the sea isn’t for everyone.
Next to jobs, the second biggest reason to leave Maryland and its delicious blue crabs is retirement (25%). Just over half the people leaving are 55 and older.
Why? Well, it’s expensive to live in Maryland. The state ranks 7th out of 52 regions on MERIC's cost-of-living index.
The cost of housing in particular is well above the nation’s average. Seniors who decide to stay, though, will be able to take advantage of Maryland’s comparatively affordable health care.
Outbound moves: 51.4%
Residents fleeing Utah are leaving behind great natural beauty, including some of the best skiing in the country.
At over 66%, the need for work dwarfs the desire for a different lifestyle, which was the next biggest reason at less than 13%.
While the state’s tech industry is thriving, accounting for one in seven jobs in Utah, that hasn’t brought prosperity to everyone.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 51.2%
More than a century ago, the man behind Hershey’s chocolate chose to open his factory in Pennsylvania for its countryside beauty and bountiful farmland. He even built a town, Hershey, for his employees.
Christopher David on Quora loathes every part of the state they’ve lived in.
“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.”
Outbound moves: 51.1%
While Missouri is recognized for the world's tallest arch, these days the Gateway Arch is as much exit as entrance.
The state’s population hasn’t been growing nearly as fast as expected, with low job growth blamed for the stagnation over the past two decades. Missouri also suffers from lower rates of high school and postsecondary education compared to other states in the area, according to American Community Survey data.
Even the weather is trying to force residents out, according to an anonymous Redditor.
“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.”
So those are the states people are fleeing the fastest. But where are all those people moving to?
The National Movers Study also contains data on the states Americans are flocking to as they seek better prospects and a more comfortable life for their families.
Keep reading as we check out the top states people are moving to.
Inbound moves: 67.4%
It appears the Gem State is no longer a hidden gem.
Idaho had the highest percentage of inbound moves in the country in 2019, marking its first time at the top of United Van Lines’ inbound list in more than 25 years.
With a burgeoning job market and an extremely low cost of living, Idaho is particularly attractive to IT workers who want to avoid shelling out millions for a home in other tech hubs like California.
The median price of a home in Boise is $332,698. In San Francisco, it’s $1.32 million.
On top of that, many residents say Idaho is a great place to raise a family.
“I loved the fact that my kids knew their teachers in and out of the classroom,” writes longtime Idaho resident Diane Allen on Quora. “I knew their bus drivers and knew my kids were in good hands.”
Editor’s note: Vermont
Although Vermont had the highest percentage of inbound moves in the National Movers Survey, United Van Lines only shuffled a total of 214 customers in and out of the state. The study only takes into account states with 250 moves or more.
Inbound moves: 65.4%
The Beaver State has been flooded with new residents since the founding of the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, and 2019 was no exception. For the third year in a row, Oregon occupied the No. 2 spot for inbound moves on United Van Lines’ study.
Aside from the plentiful trees and lush vegetation, Oregon is also rife with tech industry jobs, particularly around Portland and Hillsboro, an area which some have dubbed the “Silicon Forest.”
“There are hundreds of satellite offices of ... big companies that support the semiconductor industry,” writes Quora Anil Kumar. “Additionally, Nike, Columbia and Fisher Investments are headquartered in Portland Metro.”
Inbound moves: 63.2%
Year-round sun and a low cost of living make the Grand Canyon State an ideal place to settle down, especially during your golden years.
Arizona had the third-highest percentage of inbound moves in 2019, up two spots on the National Movers Study list compared to the previous year.
Quora commenter Erica Larson Odello says part of Arizona’s appeal is that it can accommodate virtually any lifestyle.
“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.”
4. South Carolina
Inbound moves: 61.8%
The Palmetto State is known for its pleasant climate, varied landscape and laid-back lifestyle, and it appears that the rest of the country has cottoned to its southern charm.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina had the sixth-highest rate of population growth in the country between July 2018 and July 2019, marking almost a decade of consistent growth.
And it’s not just the warm weather and pretty scenery that are pulling in new residents. South Carolina’s affordability is a major draw as well.
“Cost of living is dirt cheap,” says Quora commenter Alexander Lay. “I moved from North Carolina, and the cost of living decrease essentially acted as a 20% raise.”
Inbound moves: 59.5%
While states like Florida owe their influx of new residents to retirees, Washington’s growth is due in large part to the number of job opportunities for young professionals.
Companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks are all headquartered in the Evergreen State and are major draws for jobs. Roughly half the people who moved to Washington in 2019 did so for work, according to United Van Lines.
Although the cost of living in Washington is higher than other states, the wages tend to be higher as well.
“Housing is where we saw a big jump in cost,” writes 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 more scary than it actually was.”
6. District of Columbia
Inbound moves: 59.3%
It may not technically be a state, but Washington D.C. was one of the most attractive areas in the U.S. in 2019.
According to United Van Lines, the District saw a larger influx of residents due to work than any of the states. A whopping 78% of the people who moved there did so because of a new job or company transfer.
“There are lots of good jobs, even for someone with a basket-weaving degree like me,” says Redditor Gumburcules. “Cost of living isn't nearly as bad as people say it is, especially if you're here long term or willing to make minor compromises.”
Inbound moves: 58.1%
Palm trees, beaches and year-round warm weather make the Sunshine State one of the most popular places to move in the country, especially for those entering their golden years. More than 40% of new residents to Florida cited retirement as their reason for relocating.
“Living in Florida, in my opinion, is like no other life you could ever imagine,” says Quora commenter Mace Andrews. “The dress code is literally shorts, T-shirts, tank tops and flip flops.”
If you’re still working, make sure you have a job lined up before you move to Florida. The state’s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, which was decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. A report from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting suggests the state’s economy won’t recover until at least late 2021.
8. South Dakota
Inbound moves: 57.4%
The Mount Rushmore State may have a small population for its size, but people are starting to catch on to its outdoorsy appeal.
“The air is clear from smog, leaving ... the earthy smell of the fields to travel far on the wind,” writes South Dakotan Amanda Fristrom on Quora. “The harvest season brings deep red sunsets and striking sunrises… [and] at night the stars are clear and numerous.”
However, more than 70% of the people who moved out of the state in 2019 cited work as their main reason for leaving, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve secured a job before you pack up and head for the hills.
9. North Carolina
Inbound moves: 57.3%
North Carolina is famous for its barbeque, but the Tar Heel State has also been tantalizing new residents with its rock-bottom real estate prices.
“You can buy a nice home on a sizable lot for far less than you would in many major metro areas,” says Quora commenter Jon Mixon.
Mixon notes that scenery is another big draw for new residents — at least for most of the year.
“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.”
10. (tie) Tennessee
Inbound moves: 56.1%
Although it’s home to Graceland, Dollywood and the Grand Ole Opry, Tennessee is more than just a mecca for music fans –– it’s also a great place to move to if you want to hold on to your hard-earned dough.
“Tax wise, people tend to love Tennessee,” writes lifelong Tennessean Logan Flowers on Quora. “There is no income tax. Period. None. Property taxes are also extremely low.”
However, Flowers warns, “Sales tax can be rather high ... with most places resting somewhere between 9-10%.”
10. (tie) New Mexico
Inbound moves: 56.1%
In 2019, the Land of Enchantment jumped up a whopping 13 spots on United Van Lines’ ranking of inbound moves, proving that New Mexico is just as enchanting as ever.
“The landscape is amazing,” says Reddit user Ih8Hondas. “Awesome scenery everywhere.”
However, they found it to be a real challenge to make a living when they first arrived.
“If you want a job, you have to know people who know people. I searched for months without even getting so much as an interview when I first moved here.”
Inbound moves: 55.8%
Nevada is often considered the gambling capital of the U.S., and in 2019 more people decided to roll the dice with the Silver State than cut their losses and hit the bricks.
Quora commenter and former Nevada resident Albert Hagan describes the state as a melting pot.
“There are a few proud natives who were born there, but most residents are from somewhere else, so the people are interesting,” says Hagan.
Still, he found the pay in Nevada wasn’t up to snuff, so he was forced to cash out.
“I would move back to Nevada in a minute if I could make what I make now in my current field,” he writes. “Not happening any time soon.”
Inbound moves: 55.6%
Texas is the largest state in the contiguous U.S., which is good news, since 2019 saw the Lone Star State jump up five spots on United Van Lines’ ranking of inbound moves.
And if the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas is jangling spurs or a ten-gallon hat, you should know the state welcomes more than cowboys and oilmen. Texas has the third youngest population in America, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, with a hip atmosphere to match.
“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.”
Inbound moves: 55.5%
Although the Yellowhammer State’s ranking on the National Movers Study held steady between 2018 and 2019, the job market in Alabama remains a cause for concern.
Almost 75% of the people leaving cited work as their main reason for ducking out of Dixie.
“Although the cost of living is pretty low, the income and job market is also pretty weak, which makes making money difficult,” writes Quora commenter Steven Mann.
However, Mann notes that for certain professionals, Alabama might not be such a bad place to put down roots.
“Doctors and lawyers are almost worshipped down here.”
Inbound moves: 55.4%
People are starting to see the Diamond State for the jewel that it is.
Despite a slight dip in inbound moves from 2018, Delaware’s population continues to inch toward the 1 million mark thanks to a strong job market. In fact, last year saw the state’s unemployment rate hit a 31-year low.
“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,” writes Delaware resident John Nowaczyk on Quora.
He adds that Delaware offers “a good blend of urban, suburban and rural lifestyles and perspectives all squeezed into a relatively small and manageable package.”
Inbound moves: 55.3%
Wyoming is home to scenic vistas, six national parks and the lowest population density in the contiguous United States — only six residents per square mile — so it’s a great place to move if you like nature more than people.
The trickle of new residents entering the state could mean more Americans are looking to get away from the bustle of big city life.
But life on the range isn’t just for star-gazers; there are also opportunities in Wyoming for entrepreneurs.
“Wyoming is great for a small business,” writes Reddit user Mycotoxin. “Registering your business... is cheap and easy. There is no individual income tax in Wyoming, so that helps a lot.”
Inbound moves: 53.4%
People love the Centennial State, and it’s not just for the breathtaking views of the Rockies.
The number of jobs is on the rise, as Colorado saw a solid 2.1% increase between the end of 2018 and end of 2019. Annual wages are also around $2,100 higher than the national average, which only sweetens the call of the mountains.
If you do decide to move to Colorado, be sure to take things slow as you adapt to the state’s high elevation. Just ask Quora commenter Beatrice Bosch.
“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.”
18. Rhode Island
Inbound moves: 52.9%
Even though Rhode Island is the tiniest state in the union, its charm is definitely growing on people. In 2019, the Ocean State jumped up six spots on United Van Lines’ ranking of inbound moves.
Unfortunately for all those new residents, Little Rhody has some hefty price tags. In fact, Rhode Island is one of the most costly states to call home.
“I love R.I., but it's expensive,” says Reddit user mooscaretaker. “Taxes are high and cost of living is high. Make sure you have a job prior to moving.”
19. New Hampshire
Inbound moves: 52.8%
New Hampshire’s official motto is “Live Free Or Die,” and the promise of freedom is one reason why Americans continue to move to the Granite State.
“There's no sales tax, no state income tax, cheap liquor and legal fireworks!” proclaims a proud New Hampshirite who goes by dcs1289 on Reddit.
However, dcs1289 adds there are some downsides to living in New Hampshire as well.
“Property taxes are high... [and] the climate is pretty extreme –– below zero temps in the winter, up to 100+ in the summer.”
Inbound moves: 52.4%
Though Arkansas was once known as The Land of Opportunity, the story today is more complicated.
Even though the state jumped up seven spots on United Van Lines’ ranking of inbound moves from the previous year, more than three-quarters of the people who Arkansas did so in search of better job prospects.
It’s not necessarily due to a lack of work, though, as Reddit user JaysusMoon pointed out.
“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.”
Inbound moves: 51.2%
Known for its southern hospitality, Georgia welcomed a few more residents than it waved goodbye to. However, if you’re thinking about relocating to the Peach State, be aware that the real estate market can be the pits.
“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.”
At the same time, the typical annual salary in Georgia is almost $7,000 below the national average, according to ZipRecruiter, so you’ll want to snag one of the better jobs before you head down south.
22. West Virginia
Inbound moves: 51.1%
Although John Denver famously described West Virginia as “almost heaven,” he clearly wasn’t talking about the job market.
Work was the top reason to flee the Mountain State by far — 50 percentage points more than the second biggest reason, family, according to United Van Lines.
However, the natural splendor of West Virginia must have its charms, because slightly more people moved to the state last year than pulled up stakes.
“The physical beauty is really hard to surpass,” writes Brian Piercy on Quora. “The only downside has to be lack of upwardly mobile employment opportunities. High-technology jobs are extremely tough to find and concentrated in smaller, family-owned firms.”
Inbound moves: 51.0%
Nebraska is often labelled a “flyover state,” but the low-key lifestyle and affordable cost of living — the 13th lowest in the country, according to MERIC — make it a good place to settle down for Americans who don’t mind staying under the radar.
“No one lives here because it’s a destination,” says Reddit user timthetoolmantooth. “We live here because we are hardworking people that like to keep most of what we earn.”
Even so, making a living in the Cornhusker State isn’t always easy. Almost 70% of the residents who leave do so because of work.
24. (tie) Oklahoma
Inbound moves: 50.2%
Known for crops and crude, this South Central state is seeing just as many people move out as move in.
Jobs were by far the most common reason to leave at over 64%; the second most common was family at just 15%. As with many other states, Oklahoma hasn’t yet raised its minimum wage above the federal requirement of $7.25 per hour.
Jon Davis on Quora suggests Oklahoma’s reliance on its traditional industries doesn’t make it the most stable place to live.
“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 Davis.
24. (tie) Maine
Inbound moves: 50.2%
Slightly more people are moving to the country’s easternmost state than leaving it, but it’s a close shave.
In a rare exception, United Van Lines suggests the No. 1 reason for moving out of the state is family at more than 33%. Still, work was a factor for almost a quarter of the people who left.
To jumpstart its sluggish economy and lift substandard wages, Maine recently unveiled a 10-year plan focused on education, training and innovation. The state has traditionally relied on industries like farming, forestry and fishing, but the government hopes a more diverse economy will provide a better life for residents.
Some say the current job prospects are so bad they have to travel long distances for minimal pay.
“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 Reddit user nomocactusnames.