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How COVID-19 Impacted Moving Trends in 2020

Each year United Van Lines, the nation’s largest household goods mover, reports their findings about customer moving motivations and patterns in their annual migration study. To do so, United Van Lines conducted a post-move survey between March and August 2020. They posted their findings in a press release on October 6, 2020.


In 2020 COVID-19 impacted almost every aspect of our lives. It changed the way we worked, learned, and interacted with people. It also changed how people thought about where they live and where they want to live.

According to United’s survey, from the beginning of the pandemic in March through August, the number of customers who cited COVID-19 as the primary reason for their move grew from 5% to 15%. [1] Additionally, the survey uncovered that movers influenced by COVID-19 were more likely to expedite their move (64%) than mover not influenced by the pandemic (9.6%)[2]. This means that people who were considering moving before the pandemic decided to do so sooner than planned at a much higher rate than those whose moved was not influenced by the pandemic.

The survey went a little deeper to reveal the top four COVID-19 related factors that influenced movers. These factors were:

  1. Concerns for personal and family health and well-being
  2. Desires to be closer to family
  3. Changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely)
  4. Desires for lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life

These factors played a role in which states saw the largest number of inbound and outbound moves due to the pandemic.

Top Inbound/Outbound States

As previously mentioned, COVID-19 has changed the way we work and learn. With people having more flexibility to work remotely and children learning virtually, people no longer need to live in or close to metropolitan areas, where they have traditionally lived. Movers opted to migrate from states with dense populations and a busy lifestyle to places that are less stressful and offered a slower paced lifestyle. Customers of United Van Lines confirmed this with testimonials that could be found on their website.

These findings can be seen in the top 10 inbound states where COVID was a contributing factor in choosing to migrate to the state[3]. Some of the states on the list may be surprising.

  1. Vermont
  2. North Dakota
  3. Connecticut
  4. Montana
  5. Michigan
  6. Arkansas
  7. Oregon
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Ohio
  10. Utah

Given what we know about people wanting to move from states with high population and dense urban areas, the top 10 outbound states should be less of a surprise.  COVID-19 restrictions may have also been a factor in mover’s decision. Out of the top 10 outbound states, four of them (California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.) also had some of the toughest COVID related restrictions and state mandated shutdowns. [4]

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. New York
  3. Nevada
  4. Oregon
  5. Delaware
  6. California
  7. Minnesota
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Florida
  10. Washington

It’s been a little over a year since the pandemic started and life is beginning to return to normalcy. It will be interesting to see if the migration trends of 2020 will continue into 2021. Or will they pivot back to pre-COVID trends. One thing is for sure, people are still on the move. We’re only three months into 2021 and we’re already seeing unprecedented volume!


[1] https://www.unitedvanlines.com/moving-tips/blog/what-2020-factors-impacted-migration-across-the-us

[2] https://www.unitedvanlines.com/newsroom/covid-moving-trends

[3] https://www.unitedvanlines.com/moving-tips/blog/what-2020-factors-impacted-migration-across-the-us

[4] https://www.unitedvanlines.com/newsroom/covid-moving-trends