Fewer Americans are moving than ever before, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data — but a new report says the people who are taking the plunge are flocking to some familiar cities.
Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix topped this year's edition of truck rental company Penske's annual Top Moving Destinations report, which uses data from its one-way consumer truck rental reservations to compile a list of the country's 10 most popular cities for movers. More generally speaking, the Sun Belt led the way, with Dallas, Austin and San Antonio also ranking highly.
Eight of the 10 cities made the list in 2020, creating some pandemic-era consistency. The two newcomers this year — Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina — reappeared after a seven-year and four-year hiatus from the list, respectively.
Here are the country's top 10 moving destinations for 2021, according to Penske's report:
- Las Vegas
- Charlotte, North Carolina (which hasn't ranked in the top 10 since the 2018 list)
- San Antonio
- Orlando, Florida
- Austin, Texas
- Chicago (which hasn't ranked in the top 10 since the 2015 list)
Penske says it's been compiling its annual list since 2010. U-Haul also publishes a similar report each year, using data from its own one-way rental customer transactions, most recently identifying the country's top states for movers as Tennessee, Texas and Florida.
The nation's drop in mover rate is historic: According to a March report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.4% of people changed residences in 2021, down from 9.3% in 2020. That's the lowest it's been since the Bureau started collecting this data in 1948, and less than half the rate from that inaugural year.
Interestingly, it's not a pandemic blip: The rate has either declined or held steady every year over the past five years. During that same time span, most Americans who've moved have stayed in their city or state, with relatively few people crossing state lines to establish new residences.
"In 2021, less than one-fifth [of movers] moved from one state to another, while more than half moved within the same county," the Bureau report noted. "This was also the case in 2017 through 2020."
The report did identify two trends that could be chalked up to the pandemic: fewer international movers, which "may be related to international travel restrictions," and fewer people moving for job-related reasons.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Chicago and Charlotte haven't ranked in the top 10 of Penske's annual report since the 2015 and 2018 lists, respectively.