Mass Migration Across the U.S. Continues

an image of a group of people carrying suitcases with a moon with a flag behind them and birds flying and clouds

COVID-19 has not only changed the way we live, but where we live. Nearly two years into the pandemic, many Americans are still migrating. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at where people are going and why.  

Revisiting 2020

When we first explored COVID-19 migration a year ago, a lot was still unknown. We heard accounts of people fleeing cities and why, but we did not know how many people left, where they went, or whether those moves were temporary or permanent. Now that experts have had time to collect and analyze the data, a clearer picture has emerged.   

How many people moved?

While 2020 U.S. Census data has yet to be released, an analysis of United States Postal Service (USPS) change of address requests by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) suggests that approximately 8.9 million Americans moved between March and October 2020.

Who moved?

A Pew Research Center survey from November 2020 revealed that most people who migrated last year were young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Many of them moved back home when their college campus closed or they experienced financial hardship.

Where did people go?

USPS data confirms that most people moved from the nation’s largest cities to less densely populated areas. Cities like New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the District of Columbia lost more residents than they gained, but the majority relocated to smaller cities and suburbs nearby.

About a fifth of Americans made interstate moves. According to the NAR analysis of USPS data, New Jersey, South Carolina, Maryland, Iowa, Connecticut, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio and Mississippi gained the most residents., an affiliate of the USPS, reported that six of the 10 cities with the highest population gains were in Texas.


Did people who migrated stay or return? 

The Pew Research Center survey also indicated that 69 percent of people who moved last year had not returned to their pre-pandemic housing situation eight months into the pandemic. Some continued to live with relatives, while others stayed in vacation homes, or rented or purchased another property. 

What about businesses?

Residents weren’t the only ones moving in 2020. One moving company reported that a sixth of the moves it handled were for businesses and warehousing services. Another moving company identified Texas as the top destination for its corporate moves, followed by California, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina.

2021 Moving Trends

Despite a mass vaccine rollout and ongoing economic recovery, many Americans are still on the move in 2021. But why?

Remote Work

Many Americans are still moving – albeit, at a slower pace than last year – to lower their cost of living or be near family. The big change is that remote work opportunities are becoming permanent for more employees, making it a lot easier for them to make a move.

Before the pandemic, 1 in 20 adults worked remotely, but that number jumped to 1 in 3 last year. Remote workers no longer need to pay high housing costs to access high-paying labor markets, so they’re moving elsewhere – whether it’s to a more affordable area, closer to family or somewhere they’ve always dreamed of living.

2021 Migration So Far

While 2021 migration trends are still unfolding, here are some key insights from NAR economists about the first six months of the year:  

  • As expected, big cities are continuing to lose residents.
  • Many people are migrating to more affordable markets, while others are paying more to live near the beach or enjoy a mountain view.
  • Families mostly moved to small cities, individuals to large metropolitan areas, and businesses to the suburbs and rural areas.

As the year winds down, it’s safe to say that 2021 will go down in history as another unprecedented year for real estate. Current migration patterns are following trajectories we’ve seen for years, but the accelerated pace reflects the needs and values of Americans in a rapidly changing world.

Whatever your strategy for navigating these changing times, Old Republic Title is here to help. With locations nationwide, we can provide the right title and settlement solutions for a successful transaction wherever you call home. To learn more, contact your local Old Republic Tile representative today or visit


*Pew Research Center bears no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations of the data presented here. The opinions expressed herein, including any implications for policy, are those of the author and not of Pew Research Center.

Copyright ©2021 “2021 January – June Migration Trends Report.” NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. July 2021,