National Van Lines Domestic Migration Report - Updated for Q1 2023

First Quarter 2023 Update

The 2023 National Van Lines Migration Report is unique in that it uses real-time data, compiled each quarter of the year to determine where people may be moving to and from.

(Census information included in this report doesn’t change quarterly and remains the same from the last update in January 2023.)

Online Searches: Forecast Customer Moving Plans

Which states are long-distance movers considering?

At National Van Lines, intent is tracked via Internet search data. Customer visits on the national map are one indicator of future moving plans.

These analytics anticipate consumers’ desires or plans to move.

Seeing interest from Internet users, along with in-marketing attribution, paints a good picture of where our potential customers will come from. Tracking views also guides us on how to best reach them. The top 10 states with the most initial visits by year are:

2023 Q1

1. California

2. Texas

3. Virginia

4. Florida

5. New York

6. Illinois

7. Georgia

8. North Carolina

9. Washington

10. Pennsylvania


1.      Virginia

2.      California

3.      New York

4.      Florida

5.      Texas

6.      Illinois

7.      Washington

8.      Pennsylvania

9.      Georgia

10.   New Jersey


1.      California

2.      New York

3.      Massachusetts

4.      Florida

5.      Texas

6.      Oregon

7.      Virginia

8.      New Jersey

9.      Illinois

10.   Kansas


1.      California

2.      Massachusetts

3.      New York

4.      Texas

5.      Florida

6.      Illinois

7.      Oregon

8.      Washington

9.      New Jersey

10.   Virginia


Of the three years and three months of initial visit data, six states appeared in the top 10 all three years and three months. With their placements averaged out, the ranking of those six states’ initial visit data are:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Texas
  4. Florida
  5. Virginia
  6. Illinois

The first quarter of 2023 had some surprises, especially when compared to 2022. The number one spot in the first quarter of 2023 went to California, bumping 2022’s number one state Virginia to third. In second place for the first quarter of 2023 was Texas, which was ranked fifth in 2022. The initial findings for 2023 also included North Carolina, which was not on the list in 2022, 2021 or 2020. And New Jersey which had been near the bottom of the lists in 2020-2022 was not listed in the rankings in the first quarter of 2023.

The findings at the end of 2022 showed a significant change from the years before, with Virginia taking the top spot after being near the bottom of the top 10 in previous years. Florida and Texas maintained their rankings, while California and New York each moved down one place. Washington, Pennsylvania, and Georgia were newcomers to the top 10 in 2022, not appearing on the list in 2021.

The following states had the largest increase in individual views from 2022 to first quarter 2023. This data tells us that people from these states are exploring the possibility of a move.

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Georgia
  4. North Carolina
  5. New York
  6. South Carolina
  7. Arizona
  8. Alabama
  9. Michigan
  10. Kentucky

There are three states that consistently received the least views for 1Q 2023. People from these states may not be moving any time soon.

  1. Vermont
  2. North Dakota
  3. Alaska

North Dakota and Alaska were ranked number one and two, respectively, for states with the least intent in 2022. The addition of Vermont to this list (and topping the list at that), is something we haven’t seen before.

It will be interesting to see whether these first quarter trends continue through the second quarter of 2023. The next update to the 2023 National Van Lines Migration Report will be published in July 2023.

The 2022 Census Bureau Numbers*

US Migration Growth Trends

The states/areas with the most growth from 2021-2022

  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • South Dakota

The states/areas with the least growth from 2021-2022:

  • Puerto Rico
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • West Virginia


What about since 2020?

The states/areas with the most growth from 2020-2022:

  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Utah
  • Florida
  • South Carolina

And the states/areas with the least growth from 2020-2022:

  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
*From the US Census Bureau’s 2022 Vintage Population Estimate

Where is the Nation going?

Where Americans Prefer to Call Home in 2020-2022

From the 2022 Vintage Population Estimate, put out by the US Census Bureau, to the intent search information gathered by National Van Lines, we can see where people are moving to and from. Knowing these migration trends is not only interesting, but helpful as well.

Why? US population migration trends are important pieces of information. Large-scale migration shifts economic powers and other strengths among the states in our nation. Having knowledge about migration trends helps individuals and companies make strategic and well-informed decisions about where to invest their futures.

Recognizing migration trends takes time. While the moving industry experienced short-term changes because of Covid in 2020 and 2021, in 2022, we saw the outcome of a longer-term migration pattern that began in 2019. What was put into motion before the pandemic ultimately became the status quo this country came back to as we “returned to normal.” However, the post-Covid world saw a bigger push for work-from-home opportunities, which had an impact on the migration towards places with a lower population.

The data National Van Lines collected supports what the US Census Bureau is estimating in their latest population estimate, and vice versa!

Zooming in on the US Census: Macro and Micro Detail

Population Estimates

Every ten years, Congress is empowered by the Constitution to execute a population count of the United States. But in between census years, the US Census Bureau releases population estimates for each year.

The 2022 Vintage Population Estimate was released to the public on Dec. 22, 2022. This estimate of population measures changes each year until the next US Census.

The 2020 census data, 2021 Vintage Population Estimate and 2022 Vintage Population Estimate give interesting insight into US population changes.

The newest US Census data for 2022 shows that the South and West continue to grow faster than the Northeast and Midwest, as reported in our  2022 Migration Report.

In the last two years, the US experienced a population change of .6%, and when we look at the numbers by region, we see the South had a 1.9% growth since 2020. The South’s population increase of 2.5 million people between 2020 and 2022 was the largest of any region. The only other region that saw growth during this time period is the West, which gained approximately 155,000 people in the last two years, which was .2% more than in 2020.

By comparison, the Northeast and Midwest lost people during the same time frame. The Northeast’s population dropped by 1%, roughly 569,000 people, and the Midwest lost approximately 198,000 people since 2020—.3% of its population.

Idaho was the fastest-growing state between 2020 and 2022, with a population increase of 5.4%. This is not surprising, as Idaho had the greatest population increase between 2010 and 2021 (21.2%).

New York saw the biggest decrease in population since 2020, with a 2.6% loss, about 524,000 people.

During the  year between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022:

  • Florida had the most significant growth increase–from 416,754 to 706,597, a growth of 1.9%. Idahoand South Carolina were close behind, with 8% and 1.7% population growth increase for each, respectively.
  • Puerto Rico had the greatest decline in population–1.3% down in a year. New York had a decline of .9% and Illinois had a 0.8% population decline in that year.

Moving Industry Shake Ups: Shorter Moves Impact Drivers

For the moving industry, these trends affect operational strategies. Since cross-country moves have declined, driver recruitment is impacted. Moves are relegated to specific locations, such as Florida or Texas, resulting in a large number of trucks traveling to one location and/or region. This scenario puts a logistical strain on the industry.

In the past, drivers may be away from home for weeks at a time. The current patterns set up drivers to make shorter trips and potentially be at home more. Recruiting is happening in key states and regions. More regional opportunities open up for drivers. For local movers, shorter moves can mean a boom.

New truck driver skills are needed to meet industry changes.

“If current relocation trends continue, trainings and certifications that speak more towards low density, rural homes will become more useful than trainings for high density city moves. Technology is growing at a rapid pace so the ability to train employees for virtual surveys, communicate with customers remotely and provide great customer service from afar become more valuable. Companies that put the effort into training and certifying employees offer customers a peace of mind,“ says Katie McMichael, Director Moving and Storage Convention for the American Trucking Association.

Van lines want to ensure the appropriate agent representation.

Tim Helenthal, Chairman and CEO of National Van Lines shares, “For the moving industry, we have to be flexible. We have to be willing to change processes and goals to meet customer needs. We can’t rely on yesterday’s business model to support today’s demand. Processes must be reinvented.”

Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Going

National Van Lines’ 2023 population migration findings are anecdotal for now but show a clear trajectory away from the most populated areas, which we believe we will continue to see in years ahead. The US Census Bureau’s Vintage Population Estimate for 2022 supports much of what we’ve seen as a company in the last two years. And while national news reports people are leaving California, New York has lost more people in the last two years. In short, we are in the midst of a population shift towards lesser populated places like Idaho and Montana, as well as towards states with warmer climates such as Florida, South Carolina and Texas.

The changes in population migration between 2020 and 2022 were influenced by many factors, including the economy, job opportunities, the Covid-19 pandemic, and a large aging population at or nearing retirement. Seeing where Americans are going and why can help us determine how to effectively serve our customers.

As more data is collected and released, our analytics and tactics will adjust. National Van Lines will update this document as more information comes out. 

About Us:

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