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Who’s Moving to the West?

See moving trends for Western states

by James Grosz ConsumerAffairs Research Team
whos moving to the west

People move to the West for more than just the picturesque scenery. In helping more than 120,000 people move, we’ve discovered that Americans move for many reasons, including better housing, being closer to family and starting new jobs. We analyzed moving trends among prospective movers and used the U.S. Census Bureau’s definition of the four regions of the nation to figure out what states are driving people to move to the region. See who’s moving into your state, or find out if you’re in good company in making the move from another part of the country to the West.

How did we do it?

These charts were created using voluntary user data collected from the Matching Tool application on our Moving Companies Buying Guide. Prospective movers’ origins and destinations were then analyzed to determine domestic migration trends. Moving data for all 13 states in the West included in the study, as well as from major cities that had enough data to support reliable conclusions. We referred to the U.S. Census Bureau in determining how to define the four regions of the United States.

State-by-State Breakdown

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 24 percent of the U.S. population lived in the West in 2017. This reflects a trend of population growth that goes back for decades. Aside from California and Wyoming, most Western states experienced significant inbound domestic migration between 2016 and 2017, according to a study by Business Insider.

1. Alaska

Nearly half of all prospective movers to Alaska come from the Western United States, with most moving from California. Oregon and Texas are other major sources of movers. At the same time, Alaska is receiving one of the smallest amounts of movers of any Western state. In fact, Alaska’s population has started to shrink for the first time in decades, according to Newsweek.

2. Arizona

Most prospective movers to Arizona come from California. Illinois and Florida also provide high numbers of movers. All told, Arizona receives one of the largest amounts of movers of any Western states of its size. Accordingly, it ranked as the 10th-highest state for attracting people moving from other states in 2016, according to an annual report by United Van Lines.

Phoenix

Compared to all of Arizona, Phoenix attracts fewer movers from the West and more from the South and Northeast. Therefore, the proportion of Californians comprising the pool of movers relocating to Phoenix is significantly lower than that of Arizona as a whole.

3. California

The cross-country move doesn’t faze New Yorkers—the largest portion of movers to California come from New York. People from Texas and Florida are also flocking to California. Oregon provides significantly more movers than its population size would suggest, making it an outlier. People also move to California from Washington D.C. at disproportionate levels.

Los Angeles

Compared to all of California, Los Angeles gets a much higher proportion of its movers from the Northeast. This can primarily be seen in New York’s contribution, which experiences a major increase in Los Angeles compared to the entire state. New York becomes an outlier.

San Diego

Movers from the South flock more to San Diego than other parts of California. Migration from states such as Florida and Tennessee is more prominent in San Diego than in California as a whole. Florida overtakes New York as the top source of movers.

San Francisco

Compared to all of California, San Francisco gets fewer movers from the West and significantly more from the Northeast. Migration from states like New York is far more prominent in San Francisco than in California as a whole.

4. Colorado

Colorado ranks No. 9 in the nation for inbound migration, according to research from U-Haul. This trend can be seen in our data, which shows a large number of prospective movers going to Colorado compared to fellow Western states of similar size. Moving trends in the state are tied fairly closely to population size. California, Texas and Florida provide the highest numbers of movers to Colorado.

Denver

Compared to all of Colorado, Denver gets less of its movers from the West and significantly more from the South. Maryland is an outlier, providing a disproportionate amount of movers to Denver.

Colorado Springs

A larger proportion of movers to Colorado Springs come from Washington than for those moving to Colorado as a whole. In fact, Washington qualifies as an outlier.

5. Hawaii

It’s no surprise that a vast majority of movers to Hawaii come from the Western United States. California contributes the highest numbers of movers to Hawaii by far. While prospective movers might dream of living in an island paradise, more people are moving out of Hawaii than moving in, according to the U.S. Census.

6. Idaho

An overwhelming majority of movers to Idaho come from other states in the West. California provides almost half of movers to the state. Oregon is an outlier in that it provides more movers than would be expected given its population size.

Boise

Compared to all of Idaho, Boise gets significantly fewer of its movers from the West and more from other Midwest states. This is a result of a major decrease in Californians moving to this city compared to the entire state.

7. Montana

Montana gets the highest number of its prospective movers from California. Texas, Arizona and Illinois also contribute to Montana’s moving pool.

8. Nevada

California makes up the largest portion of movers to Nevada, so much so that it’s an outlier even given its large population. Nevada’s proximity to California also likely makes it appealing for movers exiting the Golden State.

Las Vegas

Compared to all of Nevada, Las Vegas gets significantly fewer of its movers from the West and more from the South and Northeast. Las Vegas contains a notably smaller proportion of Californians in its mover pool than in that of the entire state.

Henderson

Henderson attracts larger proportions of movers from Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia than Nevada as a whole.

Reno

Reno gets most of its prospective movers from the Western United States. Out of all the major cities in Nevada, Reno attracts the largest proportion of incoming movers from California.

9. New Mexico

Most movers relocating to New Mexico hail from the state’s massive next-door neighbor, Texas. California provides the second-largest number of movers to the state. Colorado’s large contribution to New Mexico’s mover pool, despite its relatively smaller population, makes it an outlier.

Albuquerque

Compared to all of New Mexico, Albuquerque receives slightly fewer of its movers from California and more of them from Arizona.

10. Oregon

Most people moving to Oregon come from other states in the West. The vast majority of movers come from California, so much so that it becomes an outlier. Neighboring Washington also contributes. Nevada, though not the most significant source of movers, is also an outlier given its population size.

Portland

Compared to all of Oregon, Portland gets significantly fewer movers from the West and more from the South and Northeast. Portland is home to a notably smaller proportion of Californians compared to the entire state. Most of the city’s prospective movers come from Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois.

11. Utah

According to a nationwide analysis of U.S. Census data, Utah’s population is growing faster than that of any other state. Most prospective movers come from other states in the West. Nearly a third of people relocating to Utah come from California.

Salt Lake City

Compared to all of Utah, Salt Lake City gets significantly fewer of its movers from the West. It also contains a notably smaller proportion of Californians in its mover pool compared to the entire state. Florida’s contribution to Salt Lake City’s mover pool decreases, while the city receives a significantly larger proportion of movers from Texas and Illinois.

12. Washington

Migration continues to be a huge driver of Washington’s population growth. Californians comprise the largest group of movers going to Washington, with outliers including California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

Seattle

Seattle has a somewhat smaller proportion of Californians in its mover pool than in that of the entire state. The city also has slightly more movers from Texas, New York and Illinois.

13. Wyoming

A majority of movers to Wyoming come from other states in the West. Californians are the largest group of movers going to Wyoming.

Takeaways

When people move to the West, most migrate from other Western states. California contributes the most movers, with the South also contributing a large number of movers to certain Western states.

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by James Grosz ConsumerAffairs Research Team

James is a junior data scientist on the ConsumerAffairs Research Team. When he's not combing through data, James enjoys coding games and playing with his cat Simba.