More People Moved To Washington Than Left In 2021

SEATTLE — Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the virus continues to influence the decisions of families across the country. Many choose to pack up their homes and move to different states to be closer to family, find a new job or trim living expenses.

Is this trend affecting Washington? Maybe. According to a new study conducted by United Van Lines, more people moved to Washington last year than left, but new residents were arriving in droves like they did just a few years ago.

The study, released annually in January, tracks state-to-state migration patterns using available company data. This year’s study found more Americans moved to less densely populated areas and to be closer to their families.

“This new data … is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” Michael Stoll, economist and professor at the University of California – Los Angeles, said in a statement. “We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high-density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote.”

The 2021 study found more people moved to Vermont than any other state, while New Jersey topped the list for outbound movement. New Jersey has held the non-enviable spot for the last four years.

In Washington, 51.5 percent of movers were coming into the state, while 48.5 percent were leaving it, according to the study. The most common reason for leaving was family, followed by jobs, and retirement. Despite skyrocketing rents and frequently-cited cost of living concerns, just 8 percent of residents said the cost was a factor for moving.

As for people moving to the Evergreen State, most said it was for a job (about 35 percent), 33 percent said it was for family reasons and 15 percent said it was to retire here.

Also surprising: the biggest movers were actually the oldest. Of new the new crop of Washingtonians, most (32 percent) were 65 and older. People between 55 and 64 made up another 20 percent of Washington’s newest residents. However, the same was true for people fleeing the state, with nearly 30 percent of people leaving the state being 65 and older. 22 percent of ex-Washingtonians were between 35 and 44.

South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida were also revealed as the top inbound states for 2021. Meanwhile, states including Illinois, New York, Connecticut and California again appeared on the list of top outbound states.

What motivated these moves? According to the study, 32 percent did so in order to be closer to family. Additionally, 32.5 percent of Americans moved for a new job or job transfer.

Amid the pandemic, many Generation Xers are joining baby boomers in retirement. While some are retiring to states such as Florida, the study reveals they’re not necessarily heading to heavily populated cities such as Orlando and Miami — they’re venturing to less-dense places such as Punta Gorda, Sarasota and Fort Myers-Cape Coral.

The top 10 inbound states of 2021 were:

  1. Vermont
  2. South Dakota
  3. South Carolina
  4. West Virginia
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. Tennessee
  8. Oregon
  9. Idaho
  10. Rhode Island

The top outbound states were:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. California
  6. Michigan
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Louisiana
  9. Ohio
  10. Nebraska

See the full United Van Lines study.

Source: Bellevue Patch