Americans on the move are looking for Southern charm.
While the country’s mover rate has been steadily declining since 2017, the people who are still packing things up are heading south and west.
Four of the top 10 most popular cities that Americans moved to last year were located in Texas, according to truck rental giant Penske’s annual Top Moving Destinations report released this week, with Houston taking the top spot. Fellow Lone Star State cities San Antonio, Dallas and Austin also made the list, as did Charlotte, N.C. and Orlando, Fla.
Las Vegas, which was No. 1 the year before, took second place on the 2021 list, while Phoenix (No. 3) and Chicago (No. 10) rounded out the top 10.
Here are Penske’s Top 10 moving destinations for 2021:
- Houston, Texas
- Las Vegas, Nev.
- Phoenix, Ariz.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Denver, Colo.
- San Antonio, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- Orlando, Fla.
- Austin, Texas
- Chicago, Ill.
Penske has compiled its relocation list since 2010, analyzing its one-way consumer truck rental reservations made through its website, call center and retail locations in combination with U.S. Census data to determine the most popular places where Americans are moving.
Almost every city on the list also ranked in the top 10 on the 2020 list, too. But this was the first time that Charlotte made the list since 2018, and Chicago hasn’t cracked Penske’s top 10 since 2015. Yet Atlanta, which has been in the rankings since Penske’s inaugural 2010 list, dropped off for the first time. The report suggested that “movers are giving Atlanta a little breathing room” after years of flocking to Georgia’s capital.
The data comes amid rising rent costs across the United States. Over the past year the cost of shelter jumped 5.1%, marking the biggest increase in 40 years — shelter costs account for a third or more of a typical household budget.
The Penske report suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in remote work opportunities, which allowed many people to live farther from their workplace, could be one reason that Americans relocated last year. And the Sun Belt’s mild winters were another draw.
But the trend toward Texas predates the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 2021 was the seventh year in a row that Texas had a 500,000-plus inflow of residents, according to the Texas Relocation Report published by the Associated Press. Many of the movers came from California and Florida; the U.S. Census Bureau data says that more than 687,000 Californians have moved to Texas over the last decade.
In a 2019 report about why Americans were flocking to Texas, MarketWatch highlighted factors like affordability, jobs, natural beauty and warm weather.
It should be noted that fewer Americans are moving overall, however. Census data show that the number of people who lived in a different residence in 2021 compared to the year before hit a seven-decade low (just 8.4%). And this decline in the rate of people moving also predates the pandemic.