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2020 Saw More People Moving to Idaho than Any Other State

Several moving companies have released their National Migration Studies for 2020. In what shouldn’t come as a surprise to current Idaho residents, Idaho had the highest number of inbound moves among all states last year.

If you recall, United and Atlas Van Lines had Idaho as the top destination for 2019, and both movers saw the percentage of moves increase year-over-year.

In 2021, North American Moving Services joins the other companies in releasing an early year migration report.


Idaho a Top Place to Move

Atlas Van Lines Migration Study

The Atlas Van Lines study found that while millions of people moved in 2020, there was a decrease in total moves between 2019 and 2020. The report also found that COVID-19 was driving a lot of moving-related decisions. Students moving out of university dorms that abruptly closed, moving to less-populated areas, moving out of housing that was no longer a fit for the lifestyle were some of the reasons cited for relocating.

In the Atlas study, Idaho once again found itself on the top of the list, with 66.4% of moves involving Idaho were inbound from other states. North Carolina and Maine were also popular destinations among Atlas’ clients. Idaho was tops on the list for the fourth time since 2016.

Atlas handled 705 inbound moves in 2020, compared to 558 in 2019. Interestingly, Atlas had more inbound moves to Idaho in 2015, when 717 households moved to the state. Before 2015, Idaho was reasonably balanced in terms of its inbound and outbound migrations.

As a percentage, Atlas saw Idaho go from 62.3% of moves were inbound in 2019 to 66.4% in 2020.

For the first time in several years, their study showed California being an outbound state, with more people leaving the state than moving into it. Previously, it had been considered to have a “balanced” migration, with roughly the same amount of people moving into and out of the state.

United Van Lines Migration Study

Mirroring what the Atlas Van Lines Migration Study showed, the United Van Lines Migration Study also showed Idaho as being the top destination for its clients, with 70% of its moves involving Idaho were inbound into the Gem state.

In 2019, the percentage of inbound moves was 67.4%, again showing an increase in moves to the state.

Data from March 2020 through October 2020 showed COVID-19 played a role in Americans’ decision to move. “For customers who cited COVID-19 as an influence on their move in 2020, the top reasons associated with COVID-19 were concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing (60%); desires to be closer to family (59%); 57% moved due to changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely), and 53% desired a lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life.”

For those moving to Idaho specifically, 33% were moving for retirement reasons; 32% were moving for family reasons; 26% cited lifestyle reasons; 21% said they were moving due to their job, and nearly 4% moved to the Gem State for health reasons.

The United study also found that people were fleeing densely populated areas such as New York and Chicago for less populated locales like Boise. 75% of Boise’s moves were inbound.

North American Moving Services Migration Report

The North American Moving Services Migration Report echoed the other studies’ findings, with Idaho claiming the top spot nationally for inbound moves at 70%. This was up slightly from the 69% that was posted for 2019, which was also number one for the nation.

Their report said that Californians were “fleeing for Texas and Idaho,” with Illinois, New York, and California among the top “outbound” move states.

Growth and Idaho Real Estate

As these three reports confirm, Idaho is a trendy destination for people looking to relocate. Last year, several experts said they expected the pandemic to cause people to want to move to less densely populated locales, with Boise being explicitly named.

Idaho real estate is a precious commodity as demand far outpaces supply, causing housing prices to soar to record levels. Historically low mortgage interest rates are also helping to fuel the housing interest in our state.

People want to move to Idaho for a variety of reasons:

Lower Cost of Livingthe cost of living in Idaho is 7.8% lower than the national average, according to Go Banking Rates. Tax rates are also significantly lower, nearly 30% less than the national average, and is the lowest among western states.
Safety – U.S. News ranks Idaho as one of the top 10 safest states in the U.S. to live with the sixth-lowest violent crime rate and the seventh-lowest property crime rate in the nation.
Less Regulation – Idaho is one of the least regulated states in the nation as the governor touted over 1800 pages of regulations were cut in 2019. Fewer rules make starting a business more straightforward in the Gem State and are appealing to new and existing companies looking to relocate to a more business-friendly location.
Recreation – Idaho is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, boasting various all-season activities that appeal to people of all ages and ability levels. Skiing, fishing, rafting, hiking, biking, and camping are just some of the many recreational pursuits Idahoans enjoy.
Jobs – Idaho’s economy was bustling pre-COVID and is starting to rebound. The unemployment rate was at 2.7% before the pandemic. With the Treasure Valley wooing tech startups and other established companies to locate here, labor demand continues.

The Last Word

The Census Bureau released preliminary population estimates last month that showed Idaho’s total population grew by 16% in ten years, outpacing most of the other western states. Idaho also had the most year-over-year growth of any state at 2%.

With the pandemic starting to subside, there’s optimism that more resale housing will be available to would-be buyers, helping to slow the rapid home price increases the region is seeing.

Regardless, with its low cost of living and a better overall lifestyle, Idaho will be a coveted location for at least the next few years.

All signs indicate that the housing market will continue to be hot, so it won’t be surprising to see Idaho on top of national moving company migration studies for inbound moves in the future.


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