Knoxville, Tennessee
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The States Where Most Americans Move After Packing a U-Haul

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Knoxville, Tennessee
Kruck20/istockphoto

American Migration

While Americans spent 2020 holed up at home observing COVID-19 social distancing requirements, a quiet upheaval was taking place. Job losses and work-from-home orders meant that many Americans were suddenly free to pick up and move wherever they wanted. And they did: The annual migration trends report from U-Haul, based on data compiled from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul rentals, reveals which states grew in popularity among do-it-yourself movers and which states were unpopular (California, with your sky-high cost of living, we're looking at you). Here are the top 25 growth states for 2020 listed from least to most popular, with arrival and departure figures showing the percentage of all one-way U-Haul traffic for the state.

Related: 18 Questions to Ask When Moving to a New City

Waterfalls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD
Steven Frame/shutterstock

25. South Dakota

2019 rank: 28
2020 one-way departures: Up 9%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 15%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 51.8%

The cities in South Dakota seeing the most growth last year were Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Additional cities that saw a net gain of newcomers included Spearfish, Yankton, Watertown, Brookings, Huron, Pierre, and Sturgis.

Ames, Iowa
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24. Iowa

2019 rank: 30
2020 one-way departures: Up 9%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 12%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.6%

Ames attracted the most incoming traffic last year. Other cities that made net gains included Iowa City, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Bettendorf, Waukee, Waterloo, Des Moines, and Marion.

Concord, New Hampshire
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

23. New Hampshire

2019 rank: 31
2020 one-way departures: Down 11%
2020 one-way arrivals: Down 8%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.8%

The most popular New Hampshire cities among newcomers were Tilton, Concord, and Lebanon. Additional cities that made net gains last year included Rochester, Nashua, Keene, Dover, and Portsmouth.

Related: 20 Things You Never Knew About New England

Auburn, Alabama
Jacqueline Nix/istockphoto

22. Alabama

2019 rank: 6
2020 one-way departures: Up 10%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 9%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.2%

Though the state saw a 16-step drop from the previous year, it still drew new residents. Cities and regions attracting the largest share of arrivals in Alabama included the Auburn-Opelika corridor and Huntsville. Still other Alabama cities that made net gains last year included Troy, Dothan, Daphne, Gadsden, Decatur, Prattville, Gulf Shores, Madison, Hoover, and Pelham.

University of Kansas: Lawrence, KS
BergmannD/istockphoto

21. Kansas

2019 rank: 18
2020 one-way departures: Up 4%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 6%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.4%

The top growth cities in Kansas last year were Lawrence and Wichita, while Leavenworth, Topeka, Lenexa, Shawnee, Salina, and Olathe also made notable net gains.

St. Paul, Minnesota
pabradyphoto/istockphoto

20. Minnesota

2019 rank: 15
2020 one-way departures: Up 1%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 1%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.3%

The top choices among newcomers in Minnesota last year were St. Paul, Mankato, and Minneapolis. Additional notable net-gain cities included Maplewood, Moorhead, Apple Valley, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Brooklyn Park.

Related: 19 Companies To Help Seniors Downsize and Relocate

Helena, Montana
Jacob Boomsma/istockphoto

19. Montana

2019 rank: 26
2020 one-way departures: Up 4%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 9%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 51.2%

Montana cities experiencing the top growth last year were Missoula, Helena, and Kalispell. Hamilton, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, and Butte also saw net gains.

Lexington, Kentucky
Davel5957/istockphoto

18. Kentucky

2019 rank: 37
2020 one-way departures: Up 9%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 12%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.4%

The year saw a significant rise in ranking for Kentucky, as it jumped 19 steps from 2019. The leading growth cities in Kentucky last year were Lexington and Bowling Green. Other notable net gain cities included Elsmere, Paducah, Radcliff, Richmond, Hopkinsville, Nicholasville, Georgetown, Elizabethtown, and Frankfort.

St. George, Utah
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

17. Utah

2019 rank: 8
2020 one-way departures: Up 13%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 13%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.4%

St. George attracted the most newcomers in 2021. Additional cities that saw net gain included Hurricane, Ogden, Logan, Clearfield, Provo, Cedar City, Lehi, Bountiful, and Spanish Fork.

Related: The Coldest and Warmest Cities in Every State

Morgantown, West Virginia
ChrisBoswell/istockphoto

16. West Virginia

2019 rank: 22
2020 one-way departures: Up 8%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 14%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 51.5%

Martinsburg, Beckley, Morgantown and Bluefield were the leading attractions for newcomers to West Virginia, though Fairmont, Parkersburg, and Weirton also made net gains.

Charleston, South Carolina
Bryan T Boyle/istockphoto

15. South Carolina

2019 rank: 4
2020 one-way departures: Up 10%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 9%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.4%

Still highly ranked, South Carolina dropped 11 steps from the previous year. Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Spartanburg, and Greenville were the fastest-growing cities, but other cities and regions seeing gains include the North Myrtle Beach/Little River corridor, Bluffton, Mount Pleasant, Cayce, Goose Creek, Hilton Head Island, Lexington, and North Charleston.

Related: Moving in With Your Adult Kids? Here's How to Make It Work

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

14. Oklahoma

2019 rank: 14
2020 one-way departures: Up 10%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 11%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.6%

Edmond, Owasso, and Broken Arrow were the leading growth cities in Oklahoma last year, though Yukon, Ardmore, Stillwater, Norman, and Shawnee also made net gains.

Madison, Wisconsin
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

13. Wisconsin

2019 rank: 41
2020 one-way departures: Down 1%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 2%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.6%

Wisconsin rose an impressive 28 steps from the previous year. Madison and Milwaukee led the pack in attracting newcomers, but other net-gain cities included Green Bay, Appleton, West Allis, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Janesville, Eau Claire, Waukesha, and Racine.

Related: 23 Steps to Help Organize Your Next Move

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Jacob Boomsma/istockphoto

12. Indiana

2019 rank: 9
2020 one-way departures: Up 4%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 5%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.5%

The Indiana cities that saw the most growth last year were Fort Wayne, South Bend, Noblesville, and Greenwood, while Jeffersonville, Carmel, Mishawaka, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Muncie, Elkhart, and Evansville also had gains.

Hot Springs, Arkansas
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

11. Arkansas

2019 rank: 23
2020 one-way departures: Up 11%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 15%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 51%

Arkansas rose a respectable 12 steps from the previous year. Benton, the Hot Springs-Malvern market, Centerton, North Little Rock, Conway, and Bentonville were the top destinations for newcomers in Arkansas. Additional net gains were made in Mountain Home, Searcy, Cabot, and Fayetteville.

Related: How Moving Can Actually Make You Money

Athens, Georgia
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

10. Georgia

2019 rank: 16
2020 one-way departures: Up 8%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 9%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.2%

Eyes have been on Georgia lately, with its pivotal role in the recent elections. But the state is also noteworthy for attracting a substantial number of newcomers. "It makes sense that Georgia is a U-Haul growth state," says Jason Petty, president at U-Haul Company of Central Georgia. "Most people are moving here because things are open. People are moving from New York City, Detroit, and Chicago because they're following the income. There are also tons of retirees moving to the Georgia coastal region." Cities experiencing the most growth in Georgia include Georgia's Athens, Augusta, Savannah, Statesboro, and Brunswick.

Asheville, North Carolina
Kruck20/istockphoto

9. North Carolina

2019 rank: 3
2020 one-way departures: Up 12%
2020 one-way arrivals: 11%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.2%

Locals say North Carolina has become so attractive because it's gone easy on business restrictions and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. "COVID-19 caused a hiccup for many states, but here we're still full steam ahead," said Chuck Watson, president of U-Haul Company of Raleigh. "Because North Carolina's workforce is so tech-heavy, many companies have allowed employees to work from home. The other part of that is North Carolina still giving people some freedom of movement. There are some restrictions and everyone is being cautious, but people are still able to work. That's an asset." Cities growing the fastest include Asheville, Winterville, Clayton, Mooresville, Wilmington, and Chapel Hill.

Related: 30 Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Retire Across America

Elko, Nevada
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

8. Nevada

2019 rank: 24
2020 one-way departures: No change
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 2%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.3%

Nevada's attractions include no state income tax and a low cost of living, so its rise of 16 steps from the previous year makes some sense. "Northern Nevada is seeing a huge influx of migration from California because we're their closest neighbor," says Chris Piedra, president of U-Haul Company of Northern Nevada. "Silicon Valley companies are coming here because of the friendly corporate environment. The housing market is strong. People are selling their 1,200-square-foot California homes and moving into 4,000-square-foot Nevada homes for half the price. Nevada's top growth cities are Elko, Mesquite, Sparks, Henderson, and Fernley.

Kansas City, Missouri
TriggerPhoto/istockphoto

7. Missouri

2019 rank: 13
2020 one-way departures: Up 7%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 8%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.7%

Missouri is another state that offers transplants a low cost of living, and there are jobs to be had despite the pandemic, says Aaron Krueger, president of U-Haul Company of Southern Kansas, whose office is in Grandview, Missouri. The state's leading growth cities and regions are Kansas City, the Nixa-Ozark corridor, Lee's Summit, Branson, Columbia, and Ballwin. Additional places that saw gains include University City, Liberty, the St. Peters-St. Charles corridor, Blue Springs, and St. Joseph.

Colorado Springs, Colorado
SWKrullImaging/istockphoto

6. Colorado

2019 rank: 42
2020 one-way departures: -1%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 3%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.7%

Colorado saw by far the biggest change in rank on this list, rising 36 steps, no doubt helped by a number of tech companies moving to the state recently and creating jobs for residents. The state is also known for its natural beauty. "I've spoken with many people that visit Colorado and fall in love with all it has to offer. It's not long until visitors pack up their U-Haul trucks and head this way," says Falisha Linguist, president of U-Haul Company of Northern Colorado. The state's fastest-growing cities were Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Boulder, Steamboat Springs, and Loveland. Additional cities that made gains included Parker, Durango, Castle Rock, Greeley, Denver, Aurora, and Highlands Ranch.

Related: Where to Relocate If You’re Working Remote Full-Time

Tempe, Arizona
dszc/istockphoto

5. Arizona

2019 rank: 20
2020 one-way departures: Up 3%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 5%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.3%

It seems many people fleeing California are making a beeline for Arizona, says Jesse Ashdown, president of U-Haul Company of Northwest Phoenix — contributing to a rise of 15 steps from the previous year. "The prices in Arizona are reasonable for the average working man. Many people who struggled in California are jumping at the chance for affordable housing," Ashdown says, and there are also many small-business owners in the state. Arizona's leading spots for growth last year were Surprise, Goodyear, Tempe, the Prescott/Prescott Valley corridor, Queen Creek, Pinetop-Lakeside, and Buckeye.


Athens, Ohio
Wendy Van/istockphoto

4. Ohio

2019 rank: 7
2020 one-way departures: Up 7%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 8%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.4%

Ohio's arrival in the top five makes sense to locals. "I'm not surprised by Ohio's ranking this year given the investments within metro areas," said Drew Case, president of U-Haul Company of Southwest Ohio. Some suburbs around Columbus offer tax incentives to lure companies, too. Ohio's top growth cities last year included the Columbus suburb of Worthington, Athens, Cleveland, Springfield, Youngstown, and Huber Heights.

Related: The 25 Most Affordable Suburbs That Still Offer City Amenities

Kissimmee, Florida
Javier_Art_Photography/istockphoto

3. Florida

2019 rank: 1
2020 one-way departures: Up 4%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 2%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.2%

Florida's growth is still largely attributed to being a retirement state, and one with pretty favorable weather. "It's warm all the time, and people come from all over the country for the beach and lifestyle, as well as the numerous other benefits that Florida provides," says Amanda Bauer, president of U-Haul Company of Jacksonville. Florida's top spots for growth last year included North Port, Kissimmee, Port St. Lucie, Ocala, Melbourne, Panama City, the Bradenton-Sarasota corridor, North Fort Myers, Clermont, and Fort Lauderdale.

40 Metro Areas Where New Home Construction is Booming
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2. Texas

2019 rank: 2
2020 one-way departures: Up 10%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 9%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.2%

Those fleeing pricey locales along the West Coast appear to be heading to Texas in droves. "Tons of new residents are moving here from the West Coast. I talk to customers every day from California, Oregon, and Washington. They want a change in scenery, but they want to maintain their lifestyles. COVID-19 has been a struggle, but it doesn't seem to slow people from moving into Texas," says Sean McMullen, president of U-Haul Company of South Austin. Leading growth spots in the Lone Star State include Tyler, Conroe, Longview, Richardson, Kingwood, College Station, the Round Rock/Pflugerville corridor, and Arlington.

Related: New Rules for Buying and Selling a Home During the Pandemic

Knoxville, Tennessee
Kruck20/istockphoto

1. Tennessee

2019 rank: 12
2020 one-way departures: Up 9%
2020 one-way arrivals: Up 12%
Net gain of one-way arrivals: 50.6%

The top destination in the country last year for do-it-yourself movers was Tennessee, which rose 11 steps from 2019. Californians in particular seem to find the Southern state appealing. Locals say Californians love the Tennessee lifestyle — and that it's far cheaper. "Tennessee has no income tax and is very business-friendly. There are plenty of jobs. People and companies are taking note," says Jeff Porter, president of U-Haul Company of Nashville. "Places like Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Clarksville are attracting tons of new residents. Nashville is ever-growing, and even the era of COVID-19 isn't slowing that. We were seeing movement before the virus hit, but I think the situation has pushed a lot more people away from the West Coast to our state." Tennessee's leading growth cities last year included Knoxville, the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, Clarksville, Cleveland, Murfreesboro, and Maryville.

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