This Southern State Gained the Most Newcomers in 2023

By: Georgia | Published: Jan 20, 2024

Driven by factors such as cost of living, housing affordability and taxes, one state is increasingly becoming more attractive to Americans looking to relocate.

In 2023, Texas emerged as a primary destination for many, as indicated by the U-Haul Growth Index. This index measures state and city attractiveness based on one-way movers, and Texas accounted for over half of this traffic at 50.4%.

The California Exodus

Contrasting Texas’ rise, California has experienced a notable decline in its resident retention. For four consecutive years, it has recorded the largest loss of one-way movers, according to the U-Haul Growth Index.

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The term “California Exodus,” coined by CNBC, captures this trend. The Los Angeles Times reports that between April 2020 and July 2022, more than 700,000 Californians chose to leave, with one of the main factors being the rising cost of living in California


Economic Freedom as a Deciding Factor

William Ruger, president of the American Institute for Economic Research, highlights the importance of economic freedom in influencing relocation decisions. “As we show in our book, Freedom In The 50 States, relative freedom matters a lot too,” Ruger stated to GoBankingRates.

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He suggests that states like Florida, Texas, and Tennessee attract new residents due to their economic freedom, while states ranking low in this aspect, such as New York, New Jersey, and California, see people leaving.

Cost of Living in Texas

Living in Texas offers significant financial advantages. The state boasts no income tax, and the cost of living is generally 6-8% lower than the national average, according to SmartAsset.

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GoBankingRates notes the substantial savings when relocating from major cities like New York City to Dallas or Los Angeles to Austin, with potential savings in overall living expenses nearing 40% and 32% respectively.

Housing Affordability in Texas

In terms of housing, Texas presents more affordable options compared to the national average. Forbes Home reports that the average home value is 13% lower than the national average.  

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Data from Zillow also shows that in major cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston, home values have decreased over the past year, making them more accessible to new residents.

Texas Dominates U-Haul's Growth Index

USA Today News reports that for three consecutive years, Texas has led U-Haul’s Growth Index as the state with the largest influx of people. 

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This index is a key indicator of migration trends, tracking the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks arriving in a state versus those leaving. In 2023, Texas was followed by states like Florida and North Carolina in this ranking.


Insights from U-Haul’s Data

U-Haul’s data, comprising over 2 million one-way truck transactions annually in the U.S. and Canada, provides valuable insights into DIY moving trends. 

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However, USA Today News notes that this data represents a segment of the overall migration patterns and doesn’t account for moves made using other rental companies or methods.


The Broader Implications of U-Haul’s Findings

U-Haul clarifies that their findings do not directly correlate to population or economic growth. 

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The report offers a snapshot of DIY movers in 2023, reflecting the preferences and decisions of individuals and families who choose to relocate using U-Haul’s services.


Top States for Movers in 2023

According to U-Haul’s 2023 report other states experiencing a significant increase in one-way movers include Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

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At the other end of the spectrum, California finds itself at the bottom of U-Haul’s list for states gaining population.


The South's Growing Popularity

The Southern United States, particularly Texas, has seen a significant increase in population.

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According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Texas has joined California in being one of two U.S. states with a population greater than 30 million people.


Texas’ Population Growth

Texas stands out in the U.S. Census data, showing a substantial increase in its population since 2022. USA Today found that Texas gained over 668,000 people from other states, while nearly half a million left.

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Despite this outflow, Texas still had a net gain of approximately 174,000 new residents, indicating its growing appeal.


Observations on Recent Migration Trends

John Taylor, president of U-Haul International, provided insights into the ongoing migration trends. 

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In a statement, he said  “While one-way transactions in 2023 remained below the record-breaking levels we witnessed immediately following the pandemic, we continued to see many of the same geographical trends from U-Haul customers moving between states.”