The 10 Most Popular Cities to Move to This Year

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It’s safe to say that no matter where you live, the past year involved coping with change—and, in some cases, welcoming it. For many, the ability to work from anywhere mid-pandemic (or the prospect of new job opportunities, according to one recent study) fueled the desire for a change of scenery. That, combined with the allure of a lower cost of living—not to mention the lowest mortgage interest rates in years—sparked huge interest in many suburban and smaller metropolitan cities across the U.S. Which ones, exactly? To uncover that, we took a look at United Van Lines’s data, uncovering where most of their moving vans were headed this past year. Based on that info, these are the ten most popular cities to move to right now.

RELATED The Most Sought-After States to Move to in the U.S.

best cities to move wilmington
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1. wilmington, Nc

Most people United Van Lines surveyed cited the lower cost of living as their main motivation for heading to Wilmington. And while the housing market has soared—putting it just under the $266,104 national average at $265,312—its state income tax is lower than many states and its property taxes are roughly $1,000 less than the national average. It’s also known for having a great school system, vibrant film scene, plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and parks, and it’s just west of Wrightsville Beach, a prime spot for fishing, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.

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best cities to move sarasota
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2. sarasota-bradenton, Fl

If you dream of beach living without the traffic jams—and costs—of Miami, head to Florida’s Gulf Coast. Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, saving you money there, though it’s worth noting home prices are up nearly 9 percent year over year in Sarasota. The city’s beloved for its laid-back vibe (they even have their own app for uncovering secret beaches) and appreciation for the arts (The Ringling, a 66-acre museum and gardens, is not to be missed). If you’re looking to save, check out homes farther inland, in the Bradenton area, which are about $46,000 cheaper on average, according to Zillow data.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move boise
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3. boise, Id

Idaho topped United Van Lines’ list as the most popular state to move to for the second year in a row, and after one visit to Boise, you’ll understand why. The city has all the charm of a college town, and it boasts low unemployment rates and a growing tech scene, along with plenty of places to hike and explore nature. Plus, Idaho’s cost of living is 8 percent lower than the national average. (Be forewarned, though: The typical home value is well above the $266,104 national average, coming in at $406,539. The influx of transplants over the past two years is likely behind the real estate boom—prices are up nearly 22 percent year over year.)

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move huntsville
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4. huntsville, Al

While typical home values are up almost 17 percent year over year, Huntsville’s average clocks in at $201,217, making its houses more affordable than many other places on this list. The city also has major appeal for its location in northern Alabama, right at the foot of Monte Sano Mountain and within four hours of plenty of road trip hotspots, like Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Birmingham and Atlanta. Locally, there are botanical gardens and preserves to explore, as well as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Von Braun Astronomical Society Planetarium.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move ft myers
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5. fort Myers-cape Coral, Fl

Florida, again? You better believe it. Low cost of living and moderate weather make the Sunshine State a great place to retire—the reason most people cited for moving there. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral area is no exception. It’s south of Sarasota along the Gulf Coast, and Cape Coral alone boasts 400 miles of canals, so if waterfront living is your dream, look no further. There are plenty of places to go boating or fishing; just know that during the winter months, the roads will get a bit more congested as snowbirds flock in to take advantage of the 54 to 74-degree temps.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move knoxville
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6. knoxville, Tn

Surrounded by the Smoky Mountains, Knoxville looks like a town straight out of a Hallmark movie. (Though you’re more likely to recognize it as the backdrop to October Sky, Road Trip and The Evil Dead.) Expect to find some of the best Southern food you’ve ever tried and give up all drinks that aren’t sweet tea. And if you’re into sports, you’ve got options for live games: the Tennessee Smokies baseball team and the Knoxville Ice Bears hockey team call K-Town home. Beyond that, it’s a relatively affordable place to live: Typical home values are about $223,042, and the cost of living is about 7 percent lower than the national average.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move melbourne
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7. melbourne-titusville-palm Bay, Fl

Now, hold up—Florida? Again?! The Sunshine State makes its third appearance on this list, but this time, the east coast gets its due. Admittedly, the number seven “city” actually encompasses a 50-mile metro area, including Cape Canaveral (where the shuttles launch) and Cocoa Beach, home to the world’s largest surf shop (a Ron Jon). The whole area embraces a laid-back, beachy vibe with a small-town atmosphere. If you’re looking to save money, shop for homes in Titusville—it’s farther north and tends to be much cheaper right now than the buzzier Melbourne area.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move austin
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8. austin-san Marcos, Tx

If you work in the tech industry, Austin needs to be on your radar. If you don’t work in the tech industry, Austin needs to be on your radar—just for the food and nightlife alone. There are plenty of bars, shops and restaurants, all embracing the “keep Austin weird” ethos (with no shortage of incredible barbecue and breakfast taco joints). Farther down the I-35 corridor is the other end of the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metro area. San Marcos is a quaint college town where you can take in everything from a glass-bottom boat tour to watching a unicycle football game. Oh, and the typical home values are about half that of Austin ($252K vs. $446K).

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move nashville
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9. nashville, Tn

If Knoxville is a little too country for your tastes but you’re into Tennessee’s lower cost of living (instead of the typical state income tax, the Volunteer State exclusively taxes dividend and interest income), Music City may be the place for you. It’s renowned for its live music scene, and the biscuits and hot chicken are reason enough to consider changing zip codes. As if that weren’t enough of a draw, the city is also home to multiple wineries, features plenty of historic homes to tour, and hosts a variety of museums, including the National Museum of African American Music, which opened on January 30, 2021.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

best cities to move rural
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10. fort Collins-loveland, Co

Just north of Denver is the Fort Collins-Loveland area. Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University, and it’s close to mountains, lakes and rivers, making it a great fit for sports fans, arts aficionados and outdoorsy types alike. There’s also the Fort Fun amusement park and more than 20 breweries in your area, if there’s only so much nature you can take (though, with 300 days of sunshine on average, you might just become a bigger fan). The one thing to consider: Home values are way above the national average—to the tune of $445,482. But that’s still $46,000 less, on average, than nearby Denver.

Airbnbs to Check Out Before You Move*

*If you do visit the cities on this list, please review the state and local area’s travel advisories first and maintain all social distancing guidelines as we fight the spread of COVID-19.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...