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Move It, Move It: Van Lines Relocate People to Fla.

Florida Realtors economist: The state has attracted new residents for years, and updated migration data by moving van lines show, once again, that in 2020 more people headed south in order to call Florida “home.”

ORLANDO, Fla – Sunshine, beaches, no state income tax – what’s not to love about Florida? Those assets have been attracting new residents for years. Updated migration data provided by moving van lines show 2020 is no exception (even with a pandemic) for an increase in the number of people declaring Florida “home.”

Van lines give strong indications of movement between states. As Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines shares, “Each year, our United Van Lines study provides critical insights into broader migration patterns and Americans’ moving motivations.” United Van Lines is the largest mover of household goods in the country, but adding context from other major moving companies offers a fuller picture.

Along with United Van Lines, Allied Van Lines, Atlas Van Lines, and northAmerican Moving Service rate states as “inbound,” “outbound,” or “balanced” based on the percent of total shipments moving in each direction.

An “inbound” state is one in which 55% or more of the moves are going into it. Conversely, “outbound” means 55% or more are going out of the state. Florida ranks as “inbound” from three of the four, with Atlas Van Lines calling it “balanced.” Technically, Florida had more shipments in than out for all four: 57.4%, 54.5%, 57.0%, and 59.6% inbound for Allied, Atlas, North American and United, respectively.

Even with more people coming than going, Florida couldn’t crack the top 10 states in 2020 for Atlas Van Lines. But it ranked ninth for United Van Lines and sixth for northAmerican.

So, who tops the list? It’s the state known for potatoes, Idaho, which had 65-70% inbound moves. Boise is a magnet for California remote workers looking for a new home with a significantly lower cost of living. Other states consistently seeing the top 10 are North Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.

The van lines apply a cutoff to not include states with too few shipments. Still, the percent inbound, and the rankings using them, can only tell part of the story.

As the third most populous state, Florida ranks high when analyzing counts of both inbound and outbound shipments. Although both directions can produce real estate transactions, net gains indicate an attractive destination and growing economy. And that’s Florida! The Sunshine State ranked fourth for Atlas and first for United. (northAmerican Moving Services does not provide shipment counts or ranking by volume.)

Florida tops both volume lists from Allied Van Lines, which divides moves into corporate and consumer. After Texas, California and Illinois, the state took fourth place for its corporate shipments. Even more encouraging, Florida retained its title as the top destination state in 2020, which it’s held for the past seven years.

Moving van companies attract specific types of relocators. For DIY movers, U-Haul data sheds some light on where they’re going.

Since 2016, Florida has ranked in the top two for U-Haul, though it only took the top spot last year – yet it slipped to third in 2020, following Tennessee and Texas. Still, with U-Haul tracking more than 2 million one-way moves, that’s a lot of people headed our way.

And location, location, location matters. Even within Florida, some areas shine brighter than others. U-Haul listed five Florida cities in its top 25 growth cities, with the top three spots all taken by Florida: North Port (1), Kissimmee (2), Port St. Lucie (3), Ocala (6), Melbourne (23). Kissimmee, Port St. Lucie and Ocala also made the top 25 in 2019.

Surprisingly, United Van Lines’ list of top 25 cities by percent of inbound shipments (analyzed by metropolitan statistical areas) didn’t include Port St. Lucie or Ocala, but it did have eight Florida metros.

Sarasota-Bradenton ranked second, followed by Fort-Myers-Cape Coral (5), Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay (7), West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (15), Daytona Beach (16), Jacksonville (22), Orlando (23), and Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater (25). No Florida areas made the bottom 25 cities list.

Any way you slice the data, Florida is a hot spot for migration. Consider ways you can interact with movers coming from out-of-state, especially as remote work continues into the new year. Coming soon, we’ll take a closer look at some demographic breakdowns found in the United Van Lines data that could help with your marketing efforts.

For more detail, access the full reports below:

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Director of Housing Statistics

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