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Many American Renters Are Ready To Move To Another State. Where Are They Going?

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Renter migration is underway. In a survey conducted by Rent. in November 2021, 60 percent of renters reported that they planned to move in the next six months. Pandemic-related pressures also influenced 25 percent of moves over the last 18 months, according to the 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill.

To learn where Americans are moving, Rent. researchers mined the site’s user data to gauge interest in listings by geographic location. They aggregated these numbers to discover which states and metros were more and less popular with renters.

How the migration report works

This analysis focused on the second quarter of 2022 and includes data from April, May and June. It combined these numbers into a single measure called the “lead delta,” which shows the difference between the number of inbound and outbound leads within a particular geographic area. A “lead” is a rental industry term for a prospective resident who submits information to a property owner or management group indicating interest in an apartment, condo or rental home.

Geographies with more inbound than outbound searches have a positive lead delta. This indicates that the metro or state is growing in popularity. A negative lead delta means that there is more outbound than inbound searches in a particular state or metro, indicating a decrease in popularity.

Regional trends

Metros and states in the Northeast and West saw more outbound leads during the second quarter. States and cities in the Midwest and the South saw more inbound leads during the same time period. There’s evidence that this desire to move to the center and southern parts of the country is at least partially driven by economic factors.

The two most expensive cities for renters in the U.S. are both located in the Northeast. So are 13 percent of the Top 100 most expensive cities for renters. The majority of the most expensive markets for renters (58 percent) are in the West. Of these, 41 percent are in California.

In contrast, Chicago is the only Midwestern city on the most expensive list. And several cities in the Midwest and South showed the biggest rent savings between June 2021 and June 2022. That makes a difference to renters’ budgets since rents rose by double digits across the country during the same time period.

Region Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Midwest 1,041,516 1,084,364 42,848 2.01%
Northeast 972,446 853,716 -118,730 -6.50%
South 1,821,890 1,930,385 108,495 2.89%
West 841,487 813,688 -27,799 -1.68%

The Northeast saw a -6.5 percent lead delta this quarter. The region also saw the lowest lead delta ( -1.67 percent) in the First Quarter 2022 Rent. Migration Report.

The West had a negative lead delta during the second quarter. At -1.7 percent, it’s lower than the Northeastern region this quartet, but a gain on the region’s -0.20 percent showing during the first quarter of 2022.

The Midwest and the South both showed positive migration interest during the same period. Inquiries into Midwestern properties were up by a lead delta of 2 percent, higher than the Midwest’s first quarter 1.3 percent lead delta. The South logged a 2.9 percent lead delta in this survey period, up from 0.23 percent in the previous quarter.

State-level trends

Renters interest in the Midwest and South is highlighted by state-level trends. Three of the states with the highest inbound lead delta were in the South, joining North Dakota and New Hampshire in the top five.

States with the highest inbound lead delta

The state with the highest lead delta (30.38 percent) is Delaware, considered a Southern state by the U.S. Census. The only Midwestern state in the top 5 is North Dakota. It comes in at No. 2 with a lead delta of 29.53 percent. South Carolina follows with a lead delta of 28.99 percent. New Hampshire (26.32 percent) and Mississippi (25.16 percent) round out the Top 5 states with the highest inbound lead delta.

Delaware, North Dakota and New Hampshire were also among the Top 5 states last quarter. (North Dakota took the third slot, followed by South Carolina and Delaware.) This six-month trend indicates consistent renter interest in these states.

State Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Delaware 12,961 24,272 11,311 30.38%
North Dakota 15,724 28,900 13,176 29.53%
South Carolina 52,028 94,504 42,476 28.99%
New Hampshire 15,623 26,785 11,162 26.32%
Mississippi 28,812 48,181 19,369 25.16%

The largest group of people interested in moving to a state typically comes from within the state itself. (That’s true of all cities and states profiled here.) In most other cases, key migration regions include nearby and adjacent states.

For example, most of the people interested in moving to Delaware came from neighboring locales. Of these, 30.97 percent already lived in Delaware. Other states include Northeastern locations such as Pennsylvania (29.68 percent), New York (8.8 percent) and New Jersey (4.73 percent). And Southern origins from Maryland (5.94 percent) and Washington, D.C., (4.02 percent).

South Carolina attracted interest from in-state renters, as well as residents of other Southern states, including neighbors North Carolina and Georgia, as well as Florida and Texas. Combined, they add up to 78.09 percent of all inbound leads. One Northeastern state, New York, accounted for another 6.72 percent.

Just over 80 percent of renters considering migration to New Hampshire are from Northeastern states, including New Hampshire itself, Massachusetts, New York and Maine. Florida and Maryland supply 2.56 percent and 2.14 percent of the inbound leads, respectively.

Likewise, the majority (65.55 percent) of renters thinking about moving to Mississippi are from the South. They hail from Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and the state’s neighbors Alabama and Louisiana. Another 6.69 percent of Mississippi’s leads came from renters in Illinois.

Bucking the regional trend is North Dakota. While most interest comes from renters within North Dakota (32.62 percent) and its neighbor, Minnesota (21.24 percent), the state also draws a combined 20.23 percent of its migration interest from Illinois, California, New York and Texas. Major population centers that are far from its borders.

States with the highest outbound delta

States that saw more outbound than inbound migration leads show greater geographic diversity. This category includes states in the Northeast, Midwest, West and South.

More renters wanted to leave New York (-35.34 percent), followed closely by Illinois (-31.69 percent). Renters in Colorado (-12.7 percent), Georgia (-9.6 percent) and North Carolina (-9.48 percent) also showed interest in outbound migration.

Three of these states also had the greatest number of outbound leads in early 2022. They include New York, Colorado and Illinois, in that order.

Migration trends within states with higher outbound leads

Most New York renters wanted to stay in New York (35.34 percent) and nearby New Jersey (17.46 percent). Other states, including Florida in the South, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in the Northeast and Ohio in the Midwest, received between 3.2 and 5.35 percent of leads each.

Illinois renters wanted to stick a little closer to home. Most inquired about apartments in Illinois (35.27 percent) and neighbors Indiana (11.96 percent), Missouri (3.98 percent) and Wisconsin (4.86 percent). But they also researched apartments in Texas and Tennessee.

Residents of Georgia and North Carolina kept their migration inquiries firmly focused on other Southern states. Over half of renters in both states (55.25 percent in Georgia and 52.36 percent in North Carolina) were eyeing an in-state move. All of the other top lead recipients were from Southern states.

In contrast, Colorado renters either wanted to stay in-state or leave the West entirely. While 49 percent of Colorado renters inquired about available apartments in their home state, they also researched homes in Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas and Kansas. Together, these states account for 15.35 percent of Colorado’s outbound leads.

State Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
New York 405,200 196,189 -209,011 -34.75%
Illinois 253,980 131,736 -122,244 -31.69%
Colorado 74,360 57,596 -16,764 -12.70%
Georgia 246,907 203,651 -43,256 -9.60%
North Carolina 190,014 157,100 -32,914 -9.48%

Metro-level trends

The South continues to dominate the list of inbound destinations.

Metros with the highest inbound delta:

For the second quarter, four of the top-five destinations are in the South. Only Springfield, MO, is outside of the region. Find the rest in Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The top migration destination is the HuntsvilleDecatur (Florence) metropolitan area in northern Alabama. It has a lead delta of 41.77 percent and draws 29.19 percent of its leads from within the metro and another 14.64 percent from nearby Birmingham. But renters from ChicagoNashville and Charlotte are also interested in relocating there.

Metro Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Huntsville-Decatur (Florence), AL 8,794 21,408 12,614 41.77%
Tri-Cities, TN-VA 9,901 23,263 13,362 40.29%
Biloxi-Gulfport, MS 9,458 22,076 12,618 40.01%
Knoxville, TN 15,615 34,278 18,663 37.41%
Springfield, MO 12,765 27,748 14,983 36.98%

The Tri-Cities metropolitan area takes the No. 2 slot with a 40.29 percent lead delta. It includes KingsportJohnson CityBristol and the surrounding communities on either side of the Tennessee-Virginia border. Leads came from as far away as New York (5 percent), but most inquiries were from within the metro and Nashville (15.75 percent). The Southern cities of AtlantaKnoxville and Charlotte also contributed about 4 percent each.

Biloxi-Gulfport, MS, reprised its role in the top 5 again this quarter, coming in at No. 3 with a lead delta of 40.01. (That’s up from 36.40 percent from last quarter.) Most people (56.45 percent) who wanted to move here hailed from southern communities, including New Orleans, Atlanta, MobilePensacola and Jackson. Another 6.21 percent lived in Chicago, the most expensive city for renters in the Midwest.

Knoxville, TN, logged a lead delta of 37.40 percent. It pulls 17.82 percent of its leads from Nashville. The city also attracted interest from major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Charlotte.

Springfield, MO, with a lead delta of 36.98 percent, also attracted significant interest from larger urban areas. They include the Midwestern cities of Chicago (9.18 percent), St. Louis (8.87 percent) and Kansas City, MO (4.7 percent), and Denver and Los Angeles in the West.

Metros with the highest outbound delta

Metros with the lowest lead delta numbers include Charlotte (-32.90 percent), St. Louis (-32.47 percent), Chicago (-32.04 percent) and Atlanta (-29.62 percent). They frequently appeared as sources of leads for the top inbound cities.

Austin also made the list at No. 4 with a lead delta of -23.15 percent. Renters in this Texas city also saw the average cost of a one-bedroom increase by 108.2 percent since last June. That’s the largest increase in the nation.

Metro Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Charlotte, NC 94,994 47,966 -47,028 -32.90%
St. Louis, MO 32,809 16,727 -16,082 -32.47%
Chicago, IL 244,371 125,754 -118,617 -32.05%
Austin, TX 49,226 26,729 -22,497 -29.62%
Atlanta, GA 182,158 113,677 -68,481 -23.15%
Migration trends for metros with high outbound numbers

Renters in Charlotte didn’t want to move far. The most popular communities they searched for were in North and South Carolina.

St. Louis residents wanted to stay close to home too. They searched for homes in their own city, as well the Missouri communities of Springfield, ColumbiaJefferson City and Cape Girardeau (which shares a metro with Paducah in KentuckyHarrisburg and Mount Vernon in Illinois). Indianapolis and DallasFt. Worth also received 2.15 percent and 1.65 percent of the city’s leads.

Renters in Chicago liked Midwestern cities like Indianapolis, Milwaukee and MinneapolisSt. Paul, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Nashville also attracted their attention.

Austin renters focused on in-state migration. Their top six searches were all in Texas, including San Antonio, the WacoTempleBryan metro, HoustonCorpus Christi and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Just over half (53.64 percent) of Atlanta renters wanted to stay in the South. They inquired about communities in Georgia, as well as Birmingham, AL.

The takeaway

Renters are moving away from major metropolitan areas in the West and Northeast for the second quarter in a row. More affordable rents and a lower cost of living mean continued interest for communities in the South and Midwest.

StatesInbound MetrosOutbound Metros
State Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Delaware 12,961 24,272 11,311 30.38%
North Dakota 15,724 28,900 13,176 29.53%
South Carolina 52,028 94,504 42,476 28.99%
New Hampshire 15,623 26,785 11,162 26.32%
Mississippi 28,812 48,181 19,369 25.16%
New Jersey 147,300 243,183 95,883 24.55%
Louisiana 48,742 71,540 22,798 18.95%
Indiana 121,687 172,279 50,592 17.21%
New Mexico 18,486 25,822 7,336 16.56%
Kentucky 38,698 52,491 13,793 15.13%
Iowa 23,923 31,902 7,979 14.29%
Oklahoma 33,061 43,874 10,813 14.05%
Wisconsin 73,091 95,900 22,809 13.50%
Arkansas 28,440 37,095 8,655 13.21%
Utah 33,147 42,432 9,285 12.29%
Tennessee 129,919 166,152 36,233 12.24%
Missouri 70,168 86,957 16,789 10.69%
Oregon 37,680 45,475 7,795 9.37%
Alabama 72,410 87,130 14,720 9.23%
Connecticut 62,364 74,993 12,629 9.19%
Kansas 24,692 28,761 4,069 7.61%
Virginia 125,952 146,159 20,207 7.43%
Ohio 206,776 235,613 28,837 6.52%
Minnesota 74,395 83,780 9,385 5.93%
Michigan 142,201 150,194 7,993 2.73%
Nevada 39,002 40,966 1,964 2.46%
Florida 327,912 341,272 13,360 2.00%
Washington 85,774 85,389 -385 -0.22%
Arizona 86,754 85,479 -1,275 -0.74%
Nebraska 29,051 28,409 -642 -1.12%
Texas 331,197 320,380 -10,817 -1.66%
Maryland 110,650 102,780 -7,870 -3.69%
Pennsylvania 216,986 193,942 -23,044 -5.61%
California 439,515 390,801 -48,714 -5.87%
Massachusetts 103,450 88,958 -14,492 -7.53%
North Carolina 190,014 157,100 -32,914 -9.48%
Georgia 246,907 203,651 -43,256 -9.60%
Colorado 74,360 57,596 -16,764 -12.70%
District of Columbia 36,166 22,033 -14,133 -24.28%
Illinois 253,980 131,736 -122,244 -31.69%
New York 405,200 196,189 -209,011 -34.75%
Metro Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Huntsville-Decatur (Florence) AL 8,794 21,408 12,614 41.77%
Tri-Cities TN-VA 9,901 23,263 13,362 40.29%
Biloxi-Gulfport MS 9,458 22,076 12,618 40.01%
Knoxville TN 15,615 34,278 18,663 37.41%
Springfield MO 12,765 27,748 14,983 36.98%
Chico-Redding CA 5,051 10,916 5,865 36.73%
Macon GA 10,349 21,950 11,601 35.92%
Baton Rouge LA 7,828 16,394 8,566 35.36%
Savannah GA 12,600 26,312 13,712 35.24%
Augusta GA 11,247 23,316 12,069 34.92%
Waco-Temple-Bryan TX 9,806 20,234 10,428 34.71%
Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR 7,702 15,712 8,010 34.21%
Toledo OH 10,741 21,798 11,057 33.98%
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City MI 6,856 13,691 6,835 33.27%
Roanoke-Lynchburg VA 13,080 25,900 12,820 32.89%
Evansville IN 7,267 13,777 6,510 30.94%
Reno NV 8,508 16,090 7,582 30.82%
Columbus GA 8,111 15,337 7,226 30.82%
Green Bay-Appleton WI 10,006 18,858 8,852 30.67%
Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson 14,494 27,215 12,721 30.50%
Dayton OH 15,561 28,928 13,367 30.05%
Charleston SC 11,198 20,657 9,459 29.69%
Columbia SC 12,953 23,758 10,805 29.43%
Fargo-Valley City ND 13,607 24,824 11,217 29.19%
Lansing MI 5,278 9,617 4,339 29.13%
Tallahassee FL-Thomasville GA 7,283 13,220 5,937 28.96%
Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York PA 22,025 39,937 17,912 28.91%
Chattanooga TN 8,163 14,754 6,591 28.76%
Springfield-Holyoke MA 7,383 13,184 5,801 28.21%
Wichita-Hutchinson KS 5,539 9,873 4,334 28.12%
South Bend-Elkhart IN 12,388 22,043 9,655 28.04%
Madison WI 12,949 22,919 9,970 27.80%
Colorado Springs-Pueblo CO 6,375 11,279 4,904 27.78%
Boise ID 5,186 9,070 3,884 27.24%
Champaign & Springfield-Decatur IL 5,389 9,353 3,964 26.89%
Greenville-New Bern-Washington NC 6,294 10,750 4,456 26.14%
Tucson (Sierra Vista) AZ 9,364 15,804 6,440 25.59%
Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem NC 21,592 36,412 14,820 25.55%
Fresno-Visalia CA 15,037 25,266 10,229 25.38%
Bakersfield CA 7,300 12,184 4,884 25.07%
Montgomery-Selma, AL 5,868 9,592 3,724 24.09%
Spokane WA 7,508 12,241 4,733 23.97%
Florence-Myrtle Beach SC 8,902 14,294 5,392 23.25%
Ft. Wayne IN 5,668 8,847 3,179 21.90%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY 16,245 25,203 8,958 21.61%
Rochester NY 14,617 22,402 7,785 21.03%
Portland-Auburn ME 8,305 12,622 4,317 20.63%
Providence-New Bedford,MA 12,474 18,630 6,156 19.79%
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News VA 39,040 58,104 19,064 19.62%
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek MI 17,395 25,753 8,358 19.37%
Metro Leads Out Leads In Difference Lead Delta
Charlotte NC 94,994 47,966 -47,028 -32.90%
St. Louis MO 32,809 16,727 -16,082 -32.47%
Chicago IL 244,371 125,754 -118,617 -32.05%
Austin TX 49,226 26,729 -22,497 -29.62%
Atlanta GA 182,158 113,677 -68,481 -23.15%
Baltimore MD 80,687 51,547 -29,140 -22.04%
Denver CO 65,206 42,087 -23,119 -21.55%
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose CA 70,283 45,994 -24,289 -20.89%
New York, NY 437,309 287,257 -150,052 -20.71%
Washington DC (Hagerstown MD) 105,157 71,545 -33,612 -19.02%
Los Angeles CA 236,844 169,877 -66,967 -16.47%
Nashville TN 73,596 53,733 -19,863 -15.60%
Dallas-Ft. Worth TX 146,714 117,426 -29,288 -11.09%
Las Vegas NV 30,178 25,047 -5,131 -9.29%
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne FL 87,388 72,761 -14,627 -9.13%
Columbus OH 50,503 42,376 -8,127 -8.75%
Omaha NE 22,138 18,886 -3,252 -7.93%
Philadelphia PA 179,439 157,739 -21,700 -6.44%
Detroit MI 97,562 86,254 -11,308 -6.15%
Boston MA-Manchester NH 96,472 85,526 -10,946 -6.01%
Seattle-Tacoma WA 73,037 65,368 -7,669 -5.54%
Phoenix AZ 76,006 68,392 -7,614 -5.27%
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale FL 86,536 81,530 -5,006 -2.98%
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto CA 47,209 45,679 -1,530 -1.65%
Honolulu HI 6,781 6,603 -178 -1.33%
Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville) NC 51,995 51,770 -225 -0.22%
Little Rock-Pine Bluff AR 15,595 15,551 -44 -0.14%
New Orleans LA 30,246 30,825 579 0.95%
Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) AL 31,663 32,523 860 1.34%
Syracuse NY 11,687 12,128 441 1.85%
Houston TX 62,565 65,148 2,583 2.02%
Milwaukee WI 40,098 42,268 2,170 2.63%
Jackson MS 8,863 9,477 614 3.35%
Jacksonville FL 27,870 29,863 1,993 3.45%
Wilkes Barre-Scranton PA 7,426 8,012 586 3.80%
Kansas City MO 32,269 35,304 3,035 4.49%
Minneapolis-St. Paul MN 60,749 67,042 6,293 4.92%
San Antonio TX 24,758 27,976 3,218 6.10%
Cleveland-Akron (Canton) OH 72,320 82,297 9,977 6.45%
Indianapolis IN 74,224 85,244 11,020 6.91%
Cincinnati OH 47,573 55,494 7,921 7.69%
San Diego CA 40,631 47,514 6,883 7.81%
Mobile AL-Pensacola (Ft. Walton Beach) FL 25,227 29,651 4,424 8.06%
Portland OR 29,981 35,590 5,609 8.55%
Hartford & New Haven CT 47,724 56,666 8,942 8.57%
Tulsa OK 10,895 13,036 2,141 8.95%
Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota) FL 70,944 86,330 15,386 9.78%
Louisville KY 23,746 28,978 5,232 9.92%
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce FL 14,072 17,560 3,488 11.03%
Salt Lake City UT 33,396 42,366 8,970 11.84%

Methodology

Information on migration patterns and preferences was pulled from anonymized user data collected by Rent.’s internet listings services. For each lead submitted by a user, a record is created establishing the location of the user based on their IP address and user-selected security settings. These records are combined with information, including geographical information, about the listing of interest creating an origin-destination pair.

Outbound migration consists of a renter-to-listing pair. Inbound migration consists of a listing-to-renter pair. Where geographic information for either the renter or the listing was missing, the record was removed from this study. Aggregations were made based on renter location for outbound migration and on listing location for inbound location. Differences were calculated based on these aggregations. Only states with at least 10,000 inbound leads and only metros with at least 5,000 inbound leads were considered in this analysis.

Regional designations are based on U.S. Census regional designations which divides the nation into four geographic regions: Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont); Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin); South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia and West Virginia) and West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Washington and Wyoming)

Information included in this article is for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee.

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