Florida is the state more Americans are moving to than anywhere else. The sunshine state, located at the southeastern tip of the United States, draws sizable numbers of retirees attracted by its balmy weather and low cost of living, but that’s not what’s drawing the largest group of movers — young people in their twenties and thirties.
“Young people generally move either for education or for a job, and Florida is one of the largest states in the country,” said Stefan Rayer, a population specialist at the University of Florida. “It’s very attractive. It has big metropolitan areas, it has good job opportunities, so that’s why people are moving to Florida.”
Last year, 437,516 residents left the state, but 546,501 moved in, resulting in a net inflow of 108,985 people. Florida is used to outsiders making themselves at home. On average in the United States, 60 percent of people live in the state where they were born. However, in Florida, that number drops to just 36 percent. Twenty percent of Floridians were born in another country and the remainder — 44 percent of the population — moved from another state.
The state that sends the most people is New York, followed by New Jersey, according to Rayer. A healthy influx of residents also comes from neighboring states like Georgia and Alabama. In general, that migration is what the experts call “positively selective”.
“You often have people with higher levels of education, higher levels of income, who are moving,” Rayer said. “I looked at some of the retirement communities in Florida, and there it was very pronounced. When you look at the educational attainment of the population by age, it tends to be highest in the oldest age groups.”
In general, the South is a big draw for Americans on the move, according to 24/7 Wall Street, which used the American Community Survey to track the top seven states people are moving to. In addition to Florida, the list includes the southern states of Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“The South has become very appealing for many individuals who have been living in the Northeast,” said Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center, “because you tend to have lower cost of living, lower property taxes, doesn’t snow quite as much, if at all, so you definitely see those factors influencing individuals who move to those regions.”
The other top states where Americans are moving are in the West and include Oregon, Arizona and Colorado.
The heyday of manufacturing, during the mid 20th century, saw a great deal of migration out of the South, and into the Midwest and Northeast.
Today, people seeking job opportunities and a higher quality of life, are backtracking.
“What we’re seeing now is a reversal of those trends and we’re seeing particularly return migration and retiree migration to the South as well as the rise of the West,” Tippett said. “The Northeast and the Midwest, many states in those regions are losing populations due to net outmigration, and the South and the West are picking up quite a significant amount.”
The South and West’s gain is, in particular, the Midwest’s loss.
Since 2010, the Midwestern states of Illinois, Ohio and Michigan have lost the largest numbers of residents from migration, according to Tippett.