Study Shows People Leaving High-Taxed Cities Like New York And San Francisco To Sunny Business-Friendly States

3 min readJan 13, 2021

U-Haul-the rent-a-truck and schlep your bed, couches and belongings yourself company-puts together an annual list of the states the most Americans have moved to during the year.

Tennessee, the business home of country music, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Dollywood and The Great Smoky Mountains was ranked the number one destination for the do-it-yourself movers.

Texas and Florida, the two states which previously maintained the exalted title of most-moved-to for about four years running, was toppled by Tennessee. Jeff Porter, the U-Haul Company of Nashville president, could be a little biased but said, “I’m seeing a lot of people from California move [to Tennessee] because they’re attracted to our lifestyle.” It’s also known for not having a state income tax, business-friendly government, relatively nice weather and lots of jobs.

During the pandemic working from home or remotely became the new norm as social distancing and staying at home took prominence. Another common trend, particularly among large cities, was a steady flow of protests, riots, looting, buildings set on fire and overall mayhem and lawlessness.

People living in places like New York City have said that they feel their cities have been overrun by crime, violence, open usage of drugs and an aggressive homeless population that seems to be ignored by the local governments and mental health professionals. Wealthy residents-who tend not to use U-Hauls-fled to the Hamptons (a posh exclusive beach haven for the uber-wealthy and famous) and nearby suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut. Some have left for tropical islands or remote locations such as Wyoming to get far away from the disease and chaos.

The top ten states that people have migrated to tend to offer similar attractive benefits. There’s little or no state taxes, nice climates, business-oriented governments and less restrictions on civil liberties. The ten least moved-to states are diametrically opposed to the states that enjoyed an influx of new arrivals. These states tend to have relatively repressive local and state regimes, high tax rates, problems dealing with Covid-19, long-term lockdowns and school closures.

California was the least moved-to state. It’s not surprising since California has been plagued with the virus and under long periods of shutdowns. Some are tired of the blatant hypocrisy. Governor Gavin Newsom broke his own rules by not social distancing when he enjoyed a nice birthday at an expensive restaurant with a large group of friends, while telling everyone else to stay indoors.

They’ve also had awful record breaking forest fires and power outages. San Francisco, similar to New York, found itself too expensive, dirty, divisive, overrun with a large homeless population, along with the open drug usage and increased levels of crime. With the newfound ability to work from anywhere, it was easy to pick-up and move. California has ranked 48th or lower in states that people moved to since 2016.

“The best thing about Tennessee is the southern hospitality. People are decent to one another,” said Clay McQuade, U-Haul Company of Knoxville president. He added, “I believe the draw to Tennessee is the rural atmosphere. The government is still not so oppressive on zoning and regulation, so people are able to build, and cities are friendly to business. Tourism is a big draw in this region, mostly for the Great Smoky Mountains. There’s plenty to do outdoors.”

Here’s the top ten states that people are moving to:

1. Tennessee

2. Texas

3. Florida

4. Ohio

5. Arizona

6. Colorado

7. Missouri

8. Nevada

9. North Carolina

10. Georgia

And The Bottom Ten States

40. Michigan

41. Pennsylvania

42. New York

43. Connecticut

44. Louisiana

45. Oregon

46. Maryland

47. Massachusetts

48. New Jersey

49. Illinois

50. California

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