To build, buy, or refinance. Call our experts at: phone icon1-844-422-3622

Military & Veteran Home Selling Resources

Go West, Young Man (or North, South or East…?)


Whether you’re newly separated or retired from the military, you may be considering making a move — and you’re not alone. Americans, as a whole, are a mobile society, so moving is pretty common. On average, Americans move 11.7 times throughout their lifetime, with relocations being most frequent among young adults ages 18 to 34.

Each year, North American Moving Service, which packs and moves families in the U.S. and overseas, analyzes where people are moving from and to. According to its 2023 Moving Migration Report, the two top reasons people migrate from state-to-state is to live in a more affordable housing market where they can find a job, if they are in an occupation that isn’t able to work remotely.

“The staggering increase in the cost of housing in major cities is driving individuals and families to local suburbs around the country,” the report notes. The rise of remote work also impacted where Americans moved in 2023. 27% of Americans now work remotely. “The increased flexibility of remote work has inevitably caused an exodus of residents from high-cost areas,” says North American.

Servicemembers Are No Different

Of course, servicemembers will often move for the very same reasons. However, we’ve heard from Members that in addition to living somewhere affordable, or near family, they like to live near “military communities,” near a base or fort because these areas often have built-in social networks and a lifestyle that appeals to them.

Since servicemembers typically move every two to three years, they get to see and experience a lot of the country and some locations overseas — all of which could influence their “final” move decision. Perhaps they loved the lifestyle of Hawaii or the dry heat of the California desert. Maybe they’re drawn to the Midwest for the change of seasons or the South for a more relaxed pace.

Related: 4 Special Buyer Incentives from AMS

Does Moving Impact States’ Political Majorities?

Since November of this year is a Presidential election, it’s interesting to look at current “migration” patterns among all Americans and how that might impact the political affiliation of each state. Those states that have a majority of Republican voters are referred to as “red” states and those that have a majority of Democrat voters are referred to as “blue” states. Which ones are gaining and which are losing people?

In reality, these shifts have little impact on elections. That’s because presidential elections use the Electoral College System and states like California carry a lot of sway with 55 electoral votes versus South Carolina’s nine, and these population shifts are probably not big enough to turn a blue state red or vice versa. But let’s take a look at how states are shaping up.

People Are Moving South and Southwest

North American’s 2023 Moving Migration Report found that 12% fewer people moved in 2023 than in 2022, most likely due to higher mortgage interest rates and fewer homes for sale. Homeowners who have low interest rate mortgages are less likely to move as they don’t want to take on a higher interest rate and potentially higher monthly payment. For those people who did move, southern states remained primary draws, with top destinations including South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona and Florida, and top cities being Tucson (AZ), Charleston (SC), Charlotte (NC), Nashville (TN) and Raleigh (NC). According to the report, these cities share several attractive similarities, including low cost of living and reasonable housing prices. In addition, all offer access to year-round outdoor recreational opportunities — in other words, an enhanced quality of life.

Related: What to Know About Buying a Home in 2024

People Are Leaving the West Coast and Mid-Western States

The North American report also tracks states people are moving from. For the fifth year in a row, Illinois had the highest percentage of individuals moving out of the state versus into the state. According to North American, other leading outbound states included California and Pennsylvania, both of which have remained on the list for more than a decade.

California’s outbound rate in 2023 was 62%, indicating “significant and lasting economic changes,” says the report. California residents have long dealt with some of the highest income tax rates in the United States, as high as 13% for those making over $1 million annually. Having to pay higher taxes means there’s less money left over for discretionary spending and investments. High property taxes (on top of already high property costs) may be escalating the number of Golden State residents choosing to move elsewhere, notes the report.

In 2023, Minnesota joined California on the list of top outbound states. At 9.85%, Minnesota has one of the highest income tax rates in the nation, according to the report. While the rate is still significantly lower than California’s income tax, it continues to illustrate the role that income tax plays in population shifts. New Jersey was also on the list for over a decade but saw a slight decrease in outbound movement in 2023.

The report also said that people are leaving “traditionally expensive and densely populated cities like San Diego, Seattle and Chicago to find affordable housing and provide a higher quality of life for their families.”

We’re Here to Help

Whether you’re thinking about buying, ready to start home-shopping in earnest, or considering a refinance, an AMS Military Mortgage Advisor will be happy to provide you with an honest and fair comparison of your mortgage options, including a wide range of affordable mortgages designed to meet your needs.

Ensuring AAFMAA Members obtain the best mortgage possible is our mission. Get your free mortgage assessment today or give us a call at 844-422-3622!