Madison, home to the University of Wisconsin and the World Dairy Expo, rose three spots from 2015's rankings. Austin, Tex., and Boise, Idaho are second and third on the list.
The rankings aren't figured on the sheer number of rentals. Large cities would always have the advantage over smaller ones.
Rather, the U-Haul list counts each city's net gain of one-way U-Haul truck arrivals, with departures subtracted, over a 12-month period. So Madison was number one because a lot more people rented trucks to move to Madison than departed. Maybe that's not surprising, considering there's a major university in the city. U-Haul executive Adam Sonnleitner, who is based in Madison, says there's more to it than that.
"There's an apartment or condo complex going up every other week," Sonnleitner said. "Downtown housing is a hot trend. The university and campus are growing. Madison is a great place to live. There are activities every week, concerts every weekend. If you are bored in this town, it's because you don't have a life, more or less."
U-Haul said arrivals made up 53% of one-way truck traffic in Madison last year. The number of arriving trucks rose 1% while trucks leaving town fell by 2%.
Major cities in the top 25 include San Francisco at number four, New York at five, St. Paul at nine, Atlanta at 12, and Miami at 17.
U-Haul also estimates an area's economic growth based on truck rental data. Over the next 10 days it's revealing the top 10 states for growth, with Arkansas the first to be named, checking in at number 10. U-Haul admits migration trends don't directly translate into growth, but says they are helpful gauges that reveal how well particular cities are doing at attracting and keeping residents.
California placed seven cities on the top 25 list, Florida had four, and Texas had three.
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