Americans are leaving expensive states for cheaper ones, study shows

Americans are increasingly on the move, leaving high cost of living states for cheaper ones - Photo by Erik McLean on UnSplash

For those who are moving, most destinations are in the South

Since the start of the 2020 pandemic, Americans have been on the move. The availability of remote work and impossibly expensive housing markets in some areas have led to an increase in migration across the U.S. 

But what are the states Americans are leaving behind and where are they going? A ConsumerAffairs study found a pattern – that people are leaving some of the most populous states to move to the South, where home prices tend to be lower.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that California experienced a 1.4% decrease in population between 2020 and 2023. But at the same time, Texas and Florida saw 4.7% and 5% population increases during the same period, respectively. But what’s the situation now?

The ConsumerAffairs research team analyzed data from 143,506 ConsumerAffairs users who expressed an interest in moving between January 2023 and March 2024. They weighed the number of people interested in moving away from certain states against the number thinking of moving to those same states to calculate the net migration change we used for the ranking.


The reasons people are moving are fairly obvious. In this era of high inflation, researchers found that people are considering leaving states with higher costs of living for those with lower costs. Exhibit A: The states with the highest net loss of migration, New York and California, are home to densely populated cities with notoriously high rent costs

The data suggest that Americans on the move are considering Southern states, especially Florida and North Carolina. However, that doesn’t mean residents in these states all want to stay. For example, 16,259 people expressed interest in moving to Florida, but over 13,000 people living in the state were thinking of leaving.

The top destination for movers in 2024 is North Carolina, followed by South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. California is the state the most people are leaving behind, followed by New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington.

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