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Migration map legend

2021 Migration Patterns Study

The onset of the pandemic in 2020 resulted in a year of change in migration patterns as millions of Americans made relocation decisions with COVID-19 in mind. This unique influence on moving trends continued in 2021 as the year reinforced similar tendencies and established new norms, including everything from remote-work flexibility to unprecedented housing market conditions and more. Data shows even fewer international moves were made in 2021, as companies continued to relocate employees abroad at a lower rate given continued uncertainty and travel restrictions. As long as COVID-19 remains a factor, its influence and the new normal is sure to be reflected in migration trends moving forward.

According to one of the nation’s leading movers, the 2021 Atlas® Van Lines Migration Patterns Study found that 20 U.S. states were found to be balanced in nature, meaning the inbound and outbound moves were relatively equal. The data also showed that 12 U.S. states were classified as outbound, meaning more people moved out of the state rather than in, and 18 U.S. states were classified as inbound, meaning more people moved into the state rather than out. The data also reflected an increase in moves from 2020 to 2021. The company has conducted the annual study since 1993 tracking the nation’s interstate (between states), cross-border (U.S. to Canada only), and international (between countries) moves managed by Atlas®.

The 10 U.S. states with the highest percentage of inbound and outbound moves in 2021 are included in order below, with Maine ranking as the study’s inbound leader for the first-time following Idaho’s two-year run as the country’s inbound leader. New York was once again the country’s outbound move leader in 2021, a designation it has now held for three years running.

Holding its inbound status for a second consecutive year, Utah has earned a spot on the top inbound list for the first time. In 2021, Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana and Florida achieved inbound status for the first time since 2002, 2003, 2013 and 2016, respectively. Alternatively, California earned an outbound status for the second consecutive year, after holding a balanced status from 1995 to 2019. In addition to New York, states with a consistent presence on the leading outbound list include New Jersey, Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia.

2021 Top 10 Inbound
2021 Top 10 Outbound
New York
North Carolina Illinois
Arkansas Louisiana
Tennessee New Jersey
Utah West Virginia
District of Columbia Indiana
Idaho California
Hawaii Iowa
Montana Connecticut
Florida Ohio
According to data reflecting the total number of international household moves completed by Atlas® World Group International, the top international origins and destinations for 2021 included the following:
Top 10 Origins (Outside of the U.S.) Top 10 Destinations (Outside of the U.S.)
Saudi Arabia Germany
United Kingdom France
Italy China
China Japan
France Saudi Arabia
Singapore Australia
South Africa Belgium
Colombia Ukraine
Philippines Mexico
Hong Kong India

The year’s total number of interstate and cross-border moves in North America saw a 16.3% increase from 2020. Atlas World Group International saw an 8.5% decrease in international household goods moves in 2021, showcasing the continued impacts of COVID-19 on international migration.

Northeast U.S. Region
The Northeast states experienced three significant changes from 2020 to 2021, with Connecticut moving from balanced to outbound, Delaware moving from outbound to balanced and Rhode Island moving from balanced to inbound. Maine is the only Northeast state represented on this year’s leading inbound state list, and it registered as the study’s inbound leader for its first time, with 64% of moves entering the state in 2021. In addition to being 2021’s outbound move leader, New York has remained outbound for more than 20 years running.

South U.S. Region
In 2021, the South region saw three changes from 2020 with Arkansas shifting from balanced to inbound for the first time since 2003. Florida also transitioned from balanced to inbound, a classification it last held in 2016, and Virginia went from inbound to balanced. The South region housed five of the ten leading inbound destinations in 2021 (North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and Washington D.C).

Midwest U.S. Region
The Midwest registered one change in 2021, with Michigan shifting from balanced to outbound, a classification it has not held since 2010. The Midwest region reported the most outbound states with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio ranking in the top 10. For the fifth year in a row, the Midwest registered zero inbound states.

West U.S. Region
The West registered three changes in 2021, with Hawaii shifting from balanced to inbound for the first time since 2002. It is also the first time Hawaii has been listed in the top inbound list. Montana also shifted from balanced to inbound, a classification it has not held since 2013, while Alaska shifted from inbound to balanced. Utah was listed on the top inbound state list for the first time in the state’s history while California classified as outbound for the second year in a row. The West region housed four leading inbound states for 2021 (Utah, Idaho, Montana and Hawaii).

Canadian Provinces
According to data reflecting U.S. interstate and cross-border moves, three Canadian provinces recorded a change from 2020 to 2021, with British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador and New Brunswick changing from balanced to inbound. 
How status is determined
Each state's or province's status is determined by its threshold value, which is the total number of shipments multiplied by 0.55 (i.e., in a state with 100 moves, at least 55 must be outgoing to be considered outbound). All other states or provinces in which outbound or inbound numbers do not exceed the threshold are classified as balanced. Canadian interprovincial and cross-border (from the U.S. to Canada) shipments are both referenced in the study. International moves indicate both states and countries that Atlas World Group International sent the most shipments to from international origin countries in 2021.