Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Inbound! Survey ranks Wilmington as top city for people to relocate

Wilmington has placed in the top 10 for three years in a row but climbed to the number-one spot in 2022. 81% of United Van Lines’ movers located to Wilmington, while 19% left the city. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — When it comes to inbound migration, the Port City has made the top of the list according to one poll.

Annually, the United Van Lines Movers Study reveals results from its in-house survey of top cities people have relocated to over the course of a year. The company has traced migration patterns on a state-by-state basis since 1972 and tracked over 200,000 shipments in 49 states as part of its data collection this year.

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Wilmington has placed in the top 10 for three years in a row but climbed to the number-one spot in 2022. 81% of United Van Lines’ movers located to Wilmington, while 19% left the city.

The survey takes a multitude of movers’ motivations into account for a change of residence: retirement, a desire to live closer to family, lifestyle change, health, new-job transfers or improved cost-of-living.

North Carolina overall ranked sixth, showing 61% of UVL’s total 8,242 shipments coming into the state, compared to 39% that exited.

High inbound states are classified by 55% or more of movers going into a new state, while high outbound equals 55% or more movers exiting a state. It’s considered “balanced if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible,” a release from the company noted.

In North Carolina, most movers made the change to be closer to family (30.83%), while 34.81% left with the same intention. Job and retirement fell next in line, with health dipping to the bottom of the list at roughly 5% for both inbound and outbound moves.

The survey showed coastal areas remained popular among the top 10 cities ranked, with six located near water. The trend started during Covid-19 as people sought more outdoor activities in the midst of shut downs and stay-at-home mandates.

Wilmington’s draw includes a mild climate and area beaches, particularly Wrightsville and Carolina for its strong surf. The survey also noted the appeal of a “vibrant riverfront” along the Cape Fear River, featuring multitudes of restaurants, galleries and shops, as well as major attractions, including the Battleship North Carolina.

“It sets the tone with varied, architectural homes and moss-draped, old-growth oaks that line the city’s more than 230-block district on the National Register of Historic Places,” the release stated.

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Mostly Baby Boomers and Gen Xers sought relocation more than any other generation, at an average age of 55 across the whole survey. In North Carolina, the top age range was 65 and older at 29%, with 45% coming into the state making $150,000 or more annually.

“With an influx of new residents, housing prices and other living costs start to increase over time,” United spokesperson Eily Cummings said in a press release. “As a result, the study underscored that Americans are moving from expensive cities to lower-density, more affordable regions.”

According to Tax Foundation’s 2023 Tax Climate Index, North Carolina comes in number 10 as one of the best states on the index. It takes into account property taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, corporate income tax, individual income tax, and sales tax.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed into the 2021 budget a decline in corporate income taxes in the coming years, with the goal to get to 0 by 2030, adding to the state’s appeal for businesses. As such, Business Facilities Magazine ranked North Carolina the “State of the Year” in 2022 when it comes to economic recruitment. It’s the second time the state has landed the top honor in the last two years.

Cooper announced in December 2022 brought the addition of almost 30,000 jobs and $19.3 billion in investment, numbers that exceeded 2021 by $9 billion.

Other North Carolina cities that ranked in the top 25 on United Van Lines Movers Study are Greensboro-Winston-Salem in 21st and Charlotte-Gastonia in 22nd, both showing 63% of movers coming into the state, with 37% leaving. Hickory, North Carolina, came in at 15 with 66% inbound and 34% outbound.

No North Carolina cities appeared on the top outbound list.

UVL ranked New Jersey, Illinois and New York as the top states residents left in 2022. Cities showing high exodus included Hagerstown, Maryland (Maryland came in at the 30th slot when measuring inbound-outbound rankings at 49% and 51%, respectively), Nassau-Suffolk, New York, and Bergen-Passaic, New Jersey.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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