The 5 States Everyone Is Moving to (and 5 States Everyone Is Leaving)

published Apr 5, 2022
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Young woman hanging framed picture on wall near boyfriend during relocation into new apartment
Credit: BONNINSTUDIO/Stocksy

The coronavirus pandemic inspired plenty of people to take a long, hard look at their priorities — and, in many cases, shift them around. For some, this meant moving to a new city or state that better aligned with their goals: to be closer to family, to spend more time in nature, to have a better work-life balance, or to save money on rent, just to name a few.

“With a huge number of jobs going remote and classes going online, moving to a new place didn’t stand out as a big deal,” says Brian Burke, a real estate agent in Littleton, Colorado.

Though a lot of this soul-searching happened at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, people continued moving to new states as the pandemic dragged on in 2021, according to a new analysis by moving company Atlas Van Lines. The company tracked inbound and outbound moving trends — that is, they analyzed the states people moved away from, as well as the states people moved to.

If you’re curious to know where other people are leaving or going, here are the top 5 states in both categories for 2021.

Credit: Leika production/

Everyone Is Moving to …


Lower cost of living, easy access to nature, fewer crowds … need I say more? For all of these reasons and others, Maine became a haven for many people in 2021, including remote workers and retirees

North Carolina 

North Carolina’s central location on the East Coast, coupled with its scenic mountains, mild climate, and affordability, made it a top relocation choice in 2021.


Arkansas checks a lot of boxes: low cost of living and affordable housing, high quality of life (thanks to things like an unhurried pace and less traffic), and quick access to trails, parks, and other open spaces.


With no state income tax and pleasant weather, the Volunteer State is an appealing place to live. Plus, it’s got the Smoky Mountains, mid-sized and large cities like Memphis and Nashville, and a low cost of living.


The emphasis on social distancing during the pandemic made people realize just how much they enjoyed spending time on hiking trails, walking paths, cycling routes, parks, and other outdoor places. Many towns and cities in Utah offer outdoor recreation right out the front door, plus affordable housing, stable economies, and family-friendly amenities. 

Everyone Is Leaving …

New York

No big surprise here. In 2020 and 2021, many people moved away from the Big Apple, thanks to newfound flexibility from remote work arrangements.


Though Chicago is a major hub for jobs, the pandemic made it possible for people to work from anywhere. People likely also left the state in search of lower taxes, better weather, and to pursue higher education.


Scary natural disasters (like hurricanes), fewer tourists visiting during the pandemic, and declining demand for oil and gas are just some of the reasons people are moving out of Louisiana.

New Jersey

Since New Jersey is a big commuter hub for New York City, it tracks that people also left the Garden State during the ongoing pandemic. 

West Virginia

Weak internet and cell phone service and a lack of jobs are prompting many West Virginia residents to move elsewhere.