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Americans flocked to these states in 2021, and the No. 1 most popular destination wasn't Florida or Texas

Covid in 2021 prompted "an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities."

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Americans have been relocating more since the pandemic started and a lot of them have arrived in Vermont. The Green Mountain State ranks No. 1 where more people go to than leave. 

That's according to moving company United Van Lines' Annual National Movers Study, which used internal data to track Americans' interstate migration patterns in 2021. Vermont had the highest share of "inbound" moves, with more people moving in (74.3%) versus out (25.7%). 

For contrast, far more people left New Jersey (70.5%) than chose to move there (29.5%). Likewise, more people left New York and California than arrived. And though the boomtowns of Texas got a lot of attention in 2021, overall the state ended up in the middle of the pack.

Here are the top 10.

10. Rhode Island

Total Inbound: 59.1%
Total Outbound: 40.9%

9. Idaho

Total Inbound: 60.4%
Total Outbound: 39.6%

8. Oregon

Total Inbound: 60.5%
Total Outbound: 39.5%

7. Tennessee

Total Inbound: 62%
Total Outbound: 38%

6. Alabama

Total Inbound: 62.1%
Total Outbound: 37.9%

5. Florida

Total Inbound: 62.3%
Total Outbound: 37.7%

4. West Virginia

Total inbound and outbound: Unlisted

While the data doesn't list the percentage of each move type here, it notes that of the people who moved in, about 39% did so for better retirement prospects, while 27% cited lifestyle, 22% cited family, and 17.6% cited a job.

3. South Carolina

Total Inbound: 63.3%
Total Outbound: 36.7%

2. South Dakota

Total Inbound: 68.8%
Total Outbound: 31.2%

1. Vermont

Total Inbound: 74.3%
Total Outbound: 25.7%

Americans are relocating in search of more space

The pattern of moves last year shows many Americans want to be in smaller towns. Of the top 10 inbound states, six are among the 20 least densely populated states in the country, according to the research: Vermont, South Dakota, West Virginia, Alabama, Oregon, and Idaho.

About a third, 31.8%, of movers who relocated in 2021 did so to be closer to family, notes United Vans Lines. Meanwhile, 32.5% left their state for a new, potentially remote, job opportunity.

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This points to Covid's "impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities," Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the report.

There's a "transformation of how we're able to work," with more employees able to take advantage of flexibility.  

'Do your research before you move'

The cost of living has appeal, as rural areas tend to be less expensive to live and retire than pricey big cities. In Vermont's most populated city of Burlington, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,500, according to Zumper, much lower than many other places.

Homes cost about $322,545, according to Zillow. That's more than the national median of $316,368, but less expensive than the typical amount in, say, New Jersey at $430,016.

"If you are looking to move out of state," says Allison Baggerly, founder of personal finance website Inspired Budget, "do your research before you move so that have a good idea of how much money you'll need." Then you can focus on saving extra funds for unexpected expenses that may arise.

"This might look like pausing your extra payments to [certain] debt," she notes.

Do your research before you move so that have a good idea of how much money you'll need.
Allison Baggerly
Inspired Budget

Extra cash could come in especially handy depending on where you choose to live. While many people are flocking to Vermont, the state's taxes are among the top in the country, data shows. Residents pay up to 8.75% in income tax, 7% in sales tax, and a 1.86% average effective property tax rate.

In South Burlington, the cost of living is 21% higher than the national norm, says Payscale.

"While it may be tempting in this current market to buy first, getting a better idea before making such a major investment can be a great idea," says realtor Jake A. Leahy. "Even if you just find out which neighborhood you prefer, having 12 months or so of insight can be very helpful."

Be mindful of your spending if you're Vermont-bound or going anywhere else. Consider all the financial implications and how they could affect your savings. Stash away a bit of money at a time until you reach your goal, experts say, and rent or visit fist to see if your new town is a fit.

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