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Here's where Americans are moving within the U.S.

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer
Idaho is the inbound leader for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Illinois is experiencing the highest percentage of outbound moves, according to a new study by Atlas Van Lines.

Fewer Americans are making the decision to move, reflecting less economic mobility across the country overall.

In 2017, there were 72,986 interstate and cross-border moves, down from 75,427 in 2016, according to a new study by Atlas Van Lines. Atlas has conducted its Migration Patterns study since 1993 to track the nation’s moving trends.

Overall, 23 states had roughly the same amount of people moving in and out. Idaho was the inbound leader for the second year in a row, with 65.1% of all moves coming into the state. The ‘Gem State’ has the fourth-cheapest cost of living in the country, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2017 index. Only Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi are cheaper.

Idaho, a mountainous state boasting 25 state parks, is experiencing booms in the fields of energy, science and tech. Californians seeking a slower pace and higher quality of life, in particular, are flocking to cities like Boise and Idaho Falls.

Illinois, which has seen a high percentage of folks moving out of the state since 2009, topped the list of outbound moves in 2017. Residents feel burdened and frustrated by the 32% income tax hike that lawmakers passed over the summer. Estate taxes averaged 73% lower in the states to which former Illinois residents relocated, according to an Illinois Policy report.

Regionally, several interesting patterns emerged. The West is a popular place to move to. Following Idaho, Washington and Nevada rounded out the top three inbound leaders last year.

Meanwhile, the East Coast is a mixed bag, with Maine and Rhode Island attracting inbound movers (from previously balanced, meaning moves in and out of the state were about equal). This marks the second time Maine has been inbound in the past decade. New Jersey shifted from balanced to outbound, joining New York, which has been outbound for more than 20 years.

Americans are staying put for the most part

Only 11% of the U.S. population over the age of 1 moved between 2016 and 2017. In fact, this is the lowest one-year mover rate reported by the Census Bureau, which has been tracking migration since 1948 (when the annual mover rate was 20.2%).

Renters, specifically, seem to be driving the decline. According to Census Bureau data, the rate at which renters moved last year hit an all-time low of 21.7% (compared to 35.2% in 1988). Renters still, however, move at a higher rate than owners (21.7% vs. 5.5%).

Charlynn Burd, a geographer with the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division, said housing cost-related reasons (43%) are the most frequently cited justification for moving.

Twenty eight percent said they moved for a family-related reason, 18.5% said they moved for employment purposes, and 10.6% said they moved for some other reason.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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