New Study: Americans Are Moving to These 2 Southern Cities (And They’re Not in Florida!)

Updated: Jun. 12, 2024

More than half of the country's top 10 relocation destinations are in two states—can you guess which?

While Pennsylvania may be home to the best U.S. city for retirement, it seems that there are two places, in particular, where Americans prefer to relocate, whether they’re retiring early or simply settling down. Destinations like Nashville, Denver and Austin have attracted young people recently. But in terms of putting down roots—buying a house and improving one’s quality of life—two Southern states have climbed to the top of the list, according to a recent report by moving and storage company PODS.

Within those states, two cities are making a case for the best place to live out the good ol’ American Dream. Read on to learn more!

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Which cities are people relocating to?

If you’re thinking about relocating and want to get the most bang for your buck—in terms of what you’re paying, your overall happiness and your quality of life—both North Carolina and South Carolina are the most popular destinations. That’s according to a recent report from PODS, which used moving data to see which cities have been the most popular this year.

The No. 1 most moved-to cities, for the second year in a row, are Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina. For what it’s worth, PODS grouped the two cities together, despite their being located about an hour and a half (and across state lines) from one another.

Apart from those repeat winners, there was a shift in the top spots on the list. In 2023, Florida claimed half of the spots. This year, it claimed two, while the Carolinas took up six. The company also found that more people were moving to the Southern Appalachian region, which includes states like Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Why are people moving to the Carolinas?


While this can vary by the city and region within the state, generally both North Carolina and South Carolina have a lower cost of living compared with other states. In fact, Myrtle Beach is often considered one of the most budget-friendly beach destinations in the country.

North Carolina’s cost of living is 5% lower than the national average, with housing 14% lower, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The cost of living in the state’s southern neighbor is 6% lower than the national average, and housing is 21% lower. South Carolina is also slightly below the national average when it comes to home prices, though the median household income is also somewhat lower there.


Compared with other climates, the Carolinas sit below the middle half of the country and tend to have mild weather throughout the year, with average temperatures varying between the mid-50s in the mountains and the low 60s along the coast. The climate can get humid and have very warm summers, but the winters tend to be moderately cold and mellow, without the brutal winter storms up north.

Quality of life

According to the PODS report, both North Carolina and South Carolina provide a strong quality of life, with easy access to nature—mountains and beaches—thriving food scenes, rich culture and history to explore and vibrant metropolitan areas to visit. Needless to say, people looking for a new home that checks all of their boxes may just find the Carolinas at the top of their list.

Where else are people moving?

Wilmington along the Cape Fear RiverDenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Out of the top 10 areas to move to, five of them are located in the Carolinas:

  1. Myrtle Beach, S.C./Wilmington, N.C. (1st in 2023)
  2. Ocala, Fla. (4th in 2023)
  3. Houston (5th in 2023)
  4. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. (10th in 2023)
  5. Charlotte, N.C. (16th in 2023)
  6. Raleigh, N.C. (20th in 2023)
  7. Phoenix (18th in 2023)
  8. Knoxville, Tenn. (7th in 2023)—home to one of the nicest places in America!
  9. Jacksonville, Fla. (8th in 2023)
  10. Asheville, N.C. (17th in 2023)

Why is Florida no longer a top destination?

Although Myrtle Beach/Wilmington has been named the top destination for movers two years in a row, one of the more shocking changes to this list is how many Florida locations dropped below the top 20 spots. With only three cities listed in the top 20—Ocala, Jacksonville and Orlando (which dropped from 3rd to 18th)—the shift has been dramatic.

Why the change of heart? One of the most prominent considerations has been the weather and the skyrocketing insurance rates, causing disinterest in home purchases within the state.

Each hurricane season, Florida is expected to experience an average of 12 named storms, according to the National Hurricane Center. This is exponentially higher than the average three that reach the Carolinas. This certainly plays a role in the increased insurance rates—a recent report shows Florida has the highest rates of any state.

And while Ocala is listed as the second most popular place to move, it’s important to note that it is located inland and is therefore likely to see damage (and the resulting high costs).

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