The share of Americans that move every year has gradually been on the decline since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking the data in the 1940s. However, after a surprise increase in the percentage who moved in 2022, a new analysis shows migration in the U.S. plummeted to an all-time low last year.

Online moving services marketplace HireAHelper’s annual U.S. migration study found 7.8% of the population moved in 2023, which was a 9% drop from the year before and the lowest percentage of relocators ever recorded.

The report pointed to an array of factors that contributed to the decline but said the obvious theme is that “people were priced out of relocation at every turn,” noting that housing affordability reached a historic low last year.

“One of the biggest reasons that 2023 saw a drop in moving is likely due to rising mortgage rates,” HireAHelper consumer advocate and spokesperson Miranda Marquit told FOX Business, pointing out that average rates were around 3.22% at the start of 2022 and spiked above 7% by the end of the year.

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“Even though rates came down a bit in 2023, they were much higher than the historic lows we saw for several years,” she said. “Median home prices have remained stubbornly high, even with some cooling in the real estate market, so having those mortgage rates adds a bit of sticker shock to home prices.”

open house sign in front of home

Another contributing factor is the rise in remote work over the past few years, according to Marquit. “While much has been said about returning to the office, we haven’t quite reached the point where it’s considered totally mandatory,” she said, adding, “Even with return to office, there are more remote jobs than ever, providing people with the ability to stay put.”

Although the percentage of Americans that moved last year tanked, a lot of people still moved – some 25.6 million. As part of its study, HireAHelper conducted a survey of folks who did relocate to find out why they decided to uproot.

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One finding in particular reinforced the housing affordability crisis; the number of people who said they moved in search of a more affordable living situation rose 10% from 2022.

“I think the higher cost of moving and living has prompted some moves,” Marquit said. “You might not be able to move due to costs. However, if you can move from state to state, you might decide to make the trek to a state with a lower cost of living.”

Parked U-Haul truck

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the state that saw the highest volume of new residents in 2023 was Florida – the most popular for years – followed by Texas and California, which, in reverse order, have the highest populations in the U.S. However, when it came to net gains (more people moving in than out), Oklahoma was the big winner at 40%.

“The fact that Oklahoma saw the highest ratio of move-ins to move-outs in the survey indicates that some people are looking for a cheaper place to live,” Marquit said, adding that South Carolina and Tennessee were also top states for net move-ins.

The most common reason respondents gave for moving in 2023 was for family reasons like being closer to loved ones (30%), followed by purchasing a new home (19%), and relocating for a job (14%).

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