Whether it’s job opportunities; being closer to friends and family; lower tax rates or another factor, some metros are more attractive to new residents relocating from other cities. So, to see which cities are winning over the most new residents through metro-to-metro migration, we looked at the U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers on population movement between metropolitan areas. The data is expressed in yearly residents, on average, between 2014 and 2018.
Phoenix Gains More Than 48,000 Residents Yearly from Other Metros
Metros in the Sun Belt mostly gained new residents through migration, with Phoenix setting itself apart as the biggest winner of this trend.
Between 2014 and 2018, an average of 177,642 people moved here each year from other metros . During the same period, an average of 129,467 people moved out of Phoenix to other metros annually. Essentially, the city gained a yearly average of 48,175 residents through metro-to-metro migration. This locks Phoenix into the #1 spot by population gain through exchanges with other metros, rising above even Dallas, Las Vegas and Nashville.
Specifically, Phoenix’s population grew from 4.86 million residents in 2018 to 4.95 million in 2019. Consequently, of the 90,000 net new residents in Phoenix, more than half were movers from other metros.
The top three metros that lost the most residents to Phoenix were Los Angeles; Tucson, Ariz.; and Chicago. Meanwhile, the most common destinations for people moving out of Phoenix were Tucson, Flagstaff and Prescott, all in Arizona. This means that, while Phoenix attracts new residents from across the country — including from the West Coast and the Midwest — those moving out of Phoenix are mainly choosing other Arizona metros, so the state’s population will likely continue to grow.
The Valley of the Sun’s Recipe for Success: Big Tech, Low Costs & Great Weather
But, why are so many people choosing Phoenix as their new home? Well, if you’re new to the Valley of the Sun, one of the city’s biggest draws — besides nearly 300 days of sun per year — is most likely its affordability. The cost of living here is significantly lower than other high-density urban areas in the Southwest.
Furthermore, Phoenix residents have also benefited from the growth of the tech sector, as many companies are switching their focus from the ultra-competitive markets on the West Coast to other less expensive areas with fresh opportunities. As a result, this has led established tech giants and innovative startups alike to begin looking for Phoenix office space for rent, providing the metro with new job opportunities. This trend is also reflected by the expansion of the city’s office inventory, which grew by 10% between 2015 and 2019 to accommodate the new demand.
However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on metro-to-metro migration aren’t yet apparent, as the latest data available only analyzes the period between 2014 and 2018. What is clear, though, is that Phoenix was very popular with people relocating prior to the pandemic. And, under the right conditions, the city might continue its growth as a booming inland population hub.
For this study, we used the latest migration data for the continental United States provided by the Census Bureau’s yearly estimates for 2014-2018. Migration to and from places outside of the continental United States, as well as migration to and from areas not part of a metropolitan area, was excluded.