NEW JERSEY -- More residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state in 2018, with 66.8% of New Jersey moves being outbound, according to United Van Lines’ 42nd annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration patterns over the past year.

The Garden State moved up one spot on the outbound list to No. 1 and has has ranked in the top 10 for the past decade. The primary reasons cited for moving out of New Jersey were job change (34.73%), retirement (34.51%), lifestyle (17.36%), health (6.15%), according to the United Van Lines study. 

"The crushing property taxes in this state are driving people out," said Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith in his State of the Township address on Jan. 1. "I encourage the state legislature and Governor Murphy to pursue tax relief. New Jersey and Scotch Plains have the highest taxes in the nation. These high taxes are crushing our residents and forcing them to leave."

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Nearby Connecticut (62%) and New York (61.5%) were No. 3 and No. 4 respectively and were both ranked among the top 10 outbound states for the fourth consecutive year. 

The study also found that the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration was Vermont (72.6%), followed by Oregon with 63.8% inbound moves. Other states in the West -- including Idaho (62.4%), Nevada (61.8%), Arizona (60.2%),and Washington (58.8%) -- continue to be popular destinations for inbound moves. 

Several southern states also experienced high percentages of inbound migration, such as South Carolina (59.9%) and North Carolina (57%). The National Movers Study determined that the top reasons for moving south were job change (46.6 %) and retirement (22.3%).

A leading motivation behind these migration patterns across all regions is a career change, as the survey showed approximately one out of every two people who moved in the past year moved for a new job or company transfer. Other reasons for the high percentage of moves to the Mountain West in 2018 include retirement (28.1%), proximity to family (20.8%) and lifestyle change (19.4%). Compared to all other states, Idaho saw the largest influx of new residents desiring a lifestyle change (25.95%), and more people flocked to New Mexico for retirement than any other state (42.74%).

The top outbound states for 2018 were:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. Connecticut
  4. New York
  5. Kansas
  6. Ohio
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Iowa
  9. Montana
  10. Michigan

“The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates,” said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Unlike a few decades ago, retirees are leaving California, instead choosing other states in the Pacific West and Mountain West. We’re also seeing young professionals migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington, D.C. and Seattle.”

Since 1977, United Van Lines has annually tracked migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. The 2018 study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks states based off the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves.