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2024 Data: Half of Americans Are Surprised by How Much It Costs to Move

2024 moving trends

🚚 What do Americans regret about moving? 🚚

About 86% of Americans have regrets about their move, with 24% wishing they discarded more of their belongings before they moved and 20% complaining that moving was too expensive.

Why Americans Move | Moving Stressors | Renting to Owning | Moving Costs | Budgeting for a Move | Moving Companies | Moving Damages | DIY Movers | Moving Regrets | Where Americans Move | Cities Americans Are Moving to | States Americans Are Moving to | Tell Us About Your Move

Finding a place to live in today’s expensive housing market is no easy task, but what comes next can be even more difficult. 

Moving is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life, with 46% of Americans who moved in 2023 saying it brought them to tears, and 42% saying it created conflict in their personal relationships, according to a new survey from Home Bay and Allied Van Lines

Not only is moving fraught with emotional stress and uncertainty, it’s also a costly expense that can strain Americans’ budgets — especially after paying for a pricey home or apartment. With half of movers spending at least $2,000 to relocate, it’s no surprise 45% say moving is not affordable.

To learn more about how and why Americans move, we asked 2,000 people who relocated in 2023 about their experience. We found that, instead of looking forward to life in their new home, 86% of Americans are weighed down with regrets about their move

Although many Americans would have approached moving differently, 73% say the hassle was worth it, and 75% are happy they moved.

📦 2024 Moving Trends Statistics

  • The top reasons Americans moved in 2023 were to improve their quality of life (31%) and to find a bigger home (21%).
  • Nearly all Americans (93%) had challenges during their move, such as handling stress (36%), packing efficiently (33%), and adjusting to their new home (31%).
  • Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say moving was stressful.
  • About 46% of Americans cried during the moving process, and 42% say moving caused them to fight with loved ones.
  • Half of Americans (50%) who moved in 2023 spent $2,000 or more to relocate, compared to 46% who spent that much in 2022.
  • About 53% of Americans had unexpected costs during their move, and 54% say the total cost of their move was higher than expected.
    • Failing to take those costs into account could be why 1 in 3 Americans (33%) say they didn’t budget correctly for their move.
  • Roughly 69% of Americans hired a moving company to help them relocate, while 31% opted to move themselves.
  • More than half of Americans (51%) who hired a moving company say items broke during the move, compared to just 36% of those who moved themselves.
  • More than 1 in 3 DIY movers (35%) say they did not hire professional movers because they’re too expensive, while 1 in 6 (17%) say they don’t trust moving companies.
    • However, about 1 in 4 people (24%) who moved themselves regret not hiring a moving service.
  • 86% of Americans have regrets about their move, with 24% wishing they discarded more of their belongings before moving. 
  • If money were no object, the cities Americans most want to move to are New York (23%), Washington, D.C. (22%), and Los Angeles (20%).
    • The midsize cities Americans most want to move to are Colorado Springs, Colorado (19%), Albany, New York (17%), and Winston, North Carolina (16%).
  • California (32%), New York (29%), and Florida (24%) are the states Americans most want to move to. Migration data from Allied Van Lines, however, shows Montana, Vermont, and Arkansas have the highest percentage of inbound moves.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Moved to Improve Their Quality of Life

Amid reports that the quality of life in the U.S. is declining, Americans continue to search for ways to improve their lot. For the second year in a row, the most common reason Americans moved in 2023 was to improve their quality of life. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (31%) say it was a factor — up from 24% in 2022.

Quality of life was the most common reason for moving in 2023, but 21% of Americans also prioritized more space. The pandemic sparked a desire for larger living spaces, but as housing costs soared, Americans were forced to settle for smaller, more affordable residences.

When they moved, Americans were eager to leave their cramped quarters behind. About 47% of Americans relocated to a larger property with more bedrooms — with 57% moving into a place that had at least three bedrooms. Despite the upgrade, 18% of respondents regret that their place still isn’t big enough.

Americans also moved:

  • In response to a major life change, such as going to college or retiring (21%)
  • Due to greater work flexibility (20%)
  • For a lower cost of living (20%)
  • To be closer to family and friends (20%)

When Americans move, politics is usually not the most important factor. But with the spotlight on this year’s election leading to greater polarization, 1 in 10 Americans (10%) moved for political reasons. 

Moving companies have, of course, capitalized on this political migration. Blue Line Moving, for example, caters to conservatives leaving liberal locales, while Flee Red States focuses on relocating members of the LGBTQ+ community to more friendly places.

46% of Americans Cried During the Moving Process

It’s no secret that moving is a difficult endeavor, and nearly all Americans (93%) say they faced challenges during the moving process. The most common challenge was simply handling the stress.

Overall, 66% of Americans say the moving process was stressful, and 36% say stress was a challenge they had to overcome. 

Too much stress can cause physical and emotional reactions. About 46% of Americans say they cried during the moving process, and 42% say moving caused them to fight with their loved ones

Unfortunately, Americans who move long distances tend to experience more stress because of the additional planning, time, and labor it takes to move across the country — especially if they go it alone. About 58% of long-distance movers say driving a moving truck across the country would stress them out, but 28% did it anyway.

It’s no wonder 49% of long-distance movers cried, compared to 45% of local movers.

Renters also tend to experience more difficult moves, especially because they (62%) are less likely than homeowners (81%) to hire a moving company to help them relocate. As a result, 70% of renters were stressed during their move, compared to 63% of homeowners. They also report higher levels of emotional distress, with 46% of renters crying versus 41% of homeowners. 

With emotions running high, it’s not surprising that renters rank their moving experience less positively than other movers. While homeowners rate their experience as a 7.9 out of 10 on average, that number drops to 6.8 among renters. 

What’s more, a majority of homeowners (51%) give their moving experience a 9 out of 10 — more than double the percentage of renters (26%) who rate their experience the same. 

42% of Renters Who Moved in 2023 Became Homeowners

Nearly half of Americans don’t think it’s a good time to buy (47%) or sell (48%) a home, but they’ll brave formidable market conditions to secure their slice of the American dream.

Overall, more respondents became homeowners in 2023, with the percentage of property owners jumping from 29% to 39%. Meanwhile, the percentage of renters dropped from 44% to 37%.

Among renters who moved last year, 42% bought a home. But stubbornly high home prices and mortgage rates prevent many tenants from breaking into the real estate market. About 44% of tenants continued renting, while 11% moved in with family and friends.

Currently, 15% of all Americans report that they live with family or friends without paying rent. With high housing and living costs limiting Americans’ ability to save, this is a common way to set aside money for a house. About 22% of people who cohabited with friends and family before moving ended up purchasing a house in 2023.

Half of Americans Spent at Least $2,000 on Their Move

As the cost of goods and services continues to rise, Americans are spending more on their moves. Nearly 50% of Americans who moved in 2023 spent $2,000 or more on their move, compared to 46% who spent that much in 2022.

Of course, the cost of moving depends on a variety of factors, including the number of items to move and the length of the move. Typically, the farther the move, the higher the expense.

Roughly 56% of those who moved at least 100 miles spent $2,000 or more, while only 48% of those who moved a shorter distance paid the same. Long-distance movers (13%) were also 2x more likely than local movers (6%) to pay $5,000 or more.

Americans who are moving can save money by paring down their belongings before hiring a moving service, which usually charges by volume or weight.  

Renters, who tend to have less space and fewer items, typically spend less on their moves than homeowners. Renters (42%) are 2x more likely than homeowners (19%) to spend less than $1,000 when relocating. 

However, renters move more frequently than homeowners, and relocation costs can add up quickly if moving every few years. 

A majority of renters (52%) say their moves are less than three years apart, while only 34% of homeowners say the same. What’s more, 29% of renters say they move yearly or more often. 

1 in 3 Americans Didn’t Budget Their Move Correctly

Movers know that relocating is expensive, but 53% say they were still surprised by the cost, and 54% say the total cost was much higher than expected.

Homeowners, who move less frequently and have less knowledge about moving costs, were especially caught off guard. About 66% say their moving costs were higher than expected, compared to 50% of renters.

Movers’ sticker shock is likely the result of hidden expenses — such as fuel costs, stair fees, heavy item charges,  and tips — that inevitably arise during local and cross-country moves alike.

More than half of Americans (53%) experienced unexpected costs during their move. Failing to take those costs into account could be why 1 in 3 Americans (33%) say they didn’t budget correctly for their move.

About 1 in 4 Americans (26%) say budgeting correctly was a challenge, but getting multiple quotes from moving companies can help Americans more accurately determine their moving budget. 

Despite getting an estimate, 40% of Americans say they were charged a different amount than what was quoted. This can happen because of a variety of factors, such as travel delays or misjudging how much needs to be moved.

For the most helpful quotes, Americans should be as accurate as possible when reporting the number of boxes and furniture that needs moved, as well as their weight.

Read: The Ultimate Moving Guide

69% of Americans Paid for Professional Movers, Despite Higher Costs

Moving is expensive, but a majority of Americans will gladly pay to make the challenging and stressful process a little bit easier.

About 90% of Americans paid for some sort of product or service to help with their move. Of those, 69% hired a moving company — although 64% of Americans think professional movers overcharge.

Among those who hired a moving service:

  • 54% did so because it’s easier.
  • 47% did so because it saves time.
  • 38% did so because they think it’s more cost effective.

Despite what some Americans think, hiring professional movers undoubtedly comes with a higher price tag. Those who used a moving company (58%) were nearly 2x more likely than DIY movers (31%) to spend at least $2,000. 

In addition to standard fees, moving companies often charge for additional services if customers need extra help. Of those who hired movers:

  • 41% opted for packing and unpacking services.
  • 37% opted for furniture assembly and disassembly.
  • 36% opted for specialized handling of fragile or valuable items.

Although these add-on services make moving more convenient, they can add to the overall cost. 

In the end, 1 in 5 Americans (20%) regret that their move was too expensive. About 17% also regret not negotiating a better price, and 16% regret not comparing multiple quotes. 

Almost Half of Americans Report Items Broke During Their Move, but Only a Third Had Insurance

Nearly one-third of Americans (31%) opted to move themselves instead of hiring professionals, but two-thirds of those people (68%) still purchased à la carte products and services to help with their move.

DIY movers were most likely to purchase:

With more than one-third of all Americans (35%) purchasing moving insurance to cover damages, it’s safe to assume many people expected at least one thing to go wrong during their move.

Almost half of Americans (47%) report that items broke during their move, including 59% who did not have insurance.

Although moving companies assure clients they are capable of securely transporting their belongings, those who hired professional movers were 42% more likely to report broken items during their move. 

About 51% of Americans who hired professional movers say items broke, compared to just 36% who moved themselves. It’s clear that sometimes the safest option is for owners to pack and transport their own fragile items.

Forgoing moving insurance may seem like a good way to save money, but broken items can be a hassle and expensive to replace. In fact, 1 in 9 Americans (11%) regret that they didn’t purchase moving insurance.

More Than Half of DIY Movers Think Moving Companies Are Too Expensive, Dishonest

Despite the cost, Americans who used a moving service generally had a good experience. About 70% of those who hired professional movers say they’d recommend it, and 80% say they’d specifically recommend the company they used.

Recommendations go a long way in attracting new business. About 39% of customers say they selected a moving company because of recommendations from family and friends, while online reviews persuaded 35% of movers.

Yet not even glowing reviews can persuade some Americans to use a moving service, especially if they already have a negative opinion of moving companies. 

Among DIY movers, 69% say moving companies overcharge, and 51% say they’re dishonest. By comparison, only 64% of the overall respondent pool think moving companies overcharge, and 40% think they are dishonest.

Those negative perceptions are specifically driving clients away from professional moving services. More than 1 in 3 DIY movers (35%) did not hire movers because they’re too expensive, while 1 in 6 (17%) say they’re not trustworthy.

Going it alone can save DIY movers money, but the process may become a greater hassle that leads to more stress. About 1 in 4 Americans (24%) who did not hire professionals wish they had used a moving service.

86% of Americans Have Regrets About Their Move

A new home can be exciting, but moving is no fun. The challenges, stressors, and expenses that arise during the process can cause many movers to doubt if they’re making the right decisions. 

In fact, 86% of Americans have regrets about their move — up from 75% in 2022.  

Regrets are likely rising as moving costs climb. With many movers charging by weight, 24% of Americans wish they downsized their belongings before moving — a 26% increase from the year before.

Likewise, the percentage of Americans who regret that their move was too expensive increased from 17% in 2022 to 20% in 2023. 

Overall, Americans regret that:

  • They didn’t discard more of their belongings before moving (24%)
  • They miss their old home (24%)
  • Moving was too expensive (20%)
  • Moving was too much of a hassle (19%)
  • Moving took too long (18%)

Despite their regrets, 75% of Americans who relocated in the past year are happy they moved, and 73% say the hassle was worth it. 

Half of Americans Think Cities Are the Ideal Place to Move

With the high cost of long-distance moves, nearly half of Americans (49%) don’t think it’s a good time to move across the country. Consequently, 78% of Americans moved locally, while just 22% moved 100 miles or more.

Of those who moved:

  • 12% moved to a different house in the same neighborhood
  • 27% moved to a different neighborhood in the same city
  • 29% moved to a different city within their state
  • 19% moved to a different state

Americans think cities are the most desirable place to live, with nearly half (48%) saying they are the ideal place to move. Although many city dwellers fled large urban centers during the pandemic, the data shows they are returning to cities for more job opportunities and amenities. About 37% of respondents lived in a city before they moved in 2023, but that percentage jumped to 45% after they moved.

Meanwhile, the suburban population among our respondents declined. It dropped from 38% to 30% as 43% of suburbanites packed up and moved to the city.

While some Americans opted for a drastic change of scenery, most people typically moved to the same type of environment. For example, 65% of city dwellers moved to another city, and 47% of rural residents moved to another rural area.

Only 6% of all Americans moved from a city to a rural area, while only 5% moved from a rural area to a city.

What Cities Are Americans Moving to in 2024?

Americans may consider cities desirable, but in reality, they’re too expensive for many residents to live comfortably. If money were no object, the highest percentage of Americans would want to move to:

  • New York City, NY (23%)
  • Washington, D.C. (22%)
  • Los Angeles, CA (20%)

Big-city life isn’t for everyone, though. Americans can find more approachable urban environments in midsize cities that still offer plenty of amenities but with more space and a lower cost of living. Americans say they’d prefer to move to these midsize cities:

  • Colorado Springs, CO (19%)
  • Albany, NY (17%)
  • Winston, NC (16%)

Where Americans move and live depends on individual preferences, as well as a variety of social and economic factors. But if money were no object, very few people would willingly choose to move north — with cities in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin considered some of the most undesirable. 

Among the largest metros, Americans are the least eager to move to:

  • Minneapolis, MN (4%)
  • Riverside, CA (5%)
  • Milwaukee, WI (5%)

Among midsize cities, the lowest percentage of Americans want to move to:

  • Ogden, UT (6%)
  • Grand Rapids, MI (6%)
  • Madison, WI (6%)

Although these cities have pleasant summers, thriving breweries, and delicious fried dairy products, the brutal winters are just too extreme for most Americans.

What States Are Americans Moving to in 2024?

If money were no object, the states Americans most want to move to are:

  • California (32%)
  • New York (29%)
  • Florida (24%)
  • Texas (24%)

With its year-round warm weather and unparalleled natural beauty, California is a dream destination for nearly a third of Americans, but it’s also extremely expensive compared to other states.  

Despite what they might wish, practical realities often dictate where Americans move. In practice, Americans are predominantly migrating from high-cost states to more affordable locales, according to migration data from Allied Van Lines.

From Jan. 1, 2016, to Dec. 15, 2023, Allied found that the most appealing states don’t actually have the highest percentage of inbound moves. That honor goes to:

  • Montana (97% inbound)
  • Vermont (83% inbound)
  • Arkansas (70% inbound)
  • Idaho (70% inbound) 

Although Arkansas has one of the highest inbound move percentages, the Natural State has a perception problem. Just 8% of Americans say they would move to Little Rock, and only 6% would move to Fayetteville. But with a low cost of living and gorgeous lakes, mountains, and caverns, new residents will be pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem.

Americans say they are the least interested in moving to Iowa (4%), Mississippi (4%), Kansas (5%), and Idaho (5%) — another affordable state with a high percentage of inbound moves that doesn’t get the hype it deserves. However, migration data from Allied shows that states with the fewest inbound moves since 2016 are actually:

  • Illinois (36% inbound)
  • California (40% inbound)
  • Delaware (41% inbound)
  • Pennsylvania (43% inbound)

Naturally, these are also the states Americans are leaving at the highest rates:

  • Illinois (64% outbound)
  • California (60% outbound)
  • Delaware (59% outbound)
  • Pennsylvania (57% outbound)

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Methodology

Clever Real Estate surveyed 2,000 American adults who moved in 2023 to learn more about their moving experience. The survey was conducted Jan. 4-7, 2024.  Additional data was provided by Allied Moving and the US Census Bureau.

About Home Bay

Where your real estate voyage begins. Since 2014, Home Bay has helped thousands of readers confidently sail through their next home sale or purchase. In 2021, Home Bay was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $160 million on real estate fees. Research by Home Bay’s Data Center has been cited by The New York Times, CNBC, MarketWatch, NPR, Apartment Therapy, Yahoo Finance, Black Enterprise, and more.

About About Allied Van Lines

Established in 1928, with more than 400 agent locations in North America, Allied Van Lines is an experienced leader in household goods moving and specialized transportation services. Allied is a leader in providing relocation services to corporations, consumers, governments, and non-profits around the world. Voted as America’s Most Recommended Moving Company for five consecutive years by Women’s Choice Awards, Allied is one of the world’s largest moving companies and an established global brand of SIRVA BGRS, Inc. For more information about Allied Van Lines, visit allied.com. Allied Van Lines, Inc., U.S. DOT No. 076235.

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FAQs

Why do people move?

The top reasons Americans moved in 2023 were to improve their quality of life (31%) and to find a bigger home (21%). Learn more.

Where are people moving in 2024?

If money were no object, the state Americans most want to move to is California (32%), but migration data from Allied Van Lines shows that from Jan. 1, 2016, to Dec. 15, 2023, the state with the highest percentage of inbound moves was Montana (97% inbound). Learn more.

What do Americans regret about moving?

About 86% of Americans have regrets about their move, with 24% wishing they discarded more of their belongings before they moved. Learn more.

How much does moving cost?

Americans are spending more on their moves. Nearly 50% of people who moved in 2023 spent $2,000 or more, compared to 46% who spent that much in 2022. Learn more.

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