Mayflower Data Illustrates Boom in Mid-Size Metro Areas for Movers in the U.S.

New “Finding Home” data reveals the increasing preferences for location amenities and a sense of community offered by mid-size urban cities

St. Louis, Sept. 14, 2023 — The looming effects of COVID, coupled with an uncertain economic climate, are making way for a new migration trend — Americans are moving from large metropolitan areas to mid-size cities, and recent Mayflower Transit moving data and customer feedback has made this clear. The often-overlooked mid-size city offers comparable amenities to a larger metropolitan area at a lower cost of living, providing a better quality of life. These findings challenge the long-held belief that bigger cities are better, while highlighting the changing preferences and priorities of the American population. 

As part of the 2023 Mayflower “Finding Home” campaign, Mayflower surveyed thousands of individuals across the country over the last two years (movers, past movers and future movers) to understand what drove them to choose a particular city. The results showed a significant shift in mindset, with many Americans now recognizing the benefits of mid-size cities over their larger counterparts. 

Based on inbound moves from Mayflower data, the mid-size cities with appealing lifestyle offerings include: 

  • Wilmington, North Carolina (81% inbound) 
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico (75% inbound) 
  • Knoxville, Tennessee (70% inbound) 
  • Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina (67% inbound) 
  • Ashville, North Carolina (66% inbound) 
  • Greensboro/Winston Salem, North Carolina (65% inbound) 
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas (65% inbound) 
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (64% inbound) 
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (60% inbound) 

One of the key factors driving this trend is the cost of living, with Mayflower’s Finding Home survey results revealing that 91% of movers say cost of living is an important factor when buying a home.  

“While larger cities have traditionally been associated with higher expenses, mid-size cities offer a more affordable lifestyle without compromising on amenities and opportunities,” Mayflower’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Eily Cummings said. “Our customers are sharing incredible stories of the importance of living near an abundance of outdoor space, where they have access to arts and cultural venues, some nightlife and less traffic. As the benefits of living in mid-size cities become more apparent, it is expected that this trend will continue to shape the future of urban living across the country.” 

Mid-size cities are often characterized by a strong sense of community and a slower pace of life. Residents reported feeling more connected to their neighbors and experiencing a greater sense of belonging, making mid-size cities an attractive option for those seeking a more fulfilling and connected lifestyle. 

“Everything is attractive here,” Karen Merritt, who recently moved from California to Asheville, North Carolina, said. “It’s green all the time! There is an abundance of fresh, locally grown food, and the art community is amazing. I have met many Californians here since I arrived, and they are transplants like me — most of them have left for similar reasons.” 

According to the survey:  

  • Nearly half (48%) of movers say the proximity to arts and culture venues helped influence where they moved.  
  • Roughly two thirds (67%) indicate the weather as a top influence, followed by proximity to parks, green spaces and nature trails (61%).   
  • Other top reasons for moving or considering moving include wanting to be closer to family (32%), financial reasons (28%) and to accept a new job (19%). In fact, relocating to states for a higher rate of pay is on many movers’ minds, with 61% of movers saying they would relocate across states. 
  • 37% of movers have started a side hustle due to the rising cost of living. The businesses they are pursuing include:   
  • 36% Freelancing/consulting  
  • 31% Small business   
  • 24% Content creation   

“They (Ashville residents) are supporting small businesses and the surrounding communities in a big way,” Merritt said. “I want to start a small business here. I’m excited to see a community that supports small businesses.” 

These recent findings will have significant implications for urban planning and development in mid-size cities. As more Americans move, policymakers and city planners will need to adapt to accommodate this shifting trend. Investments in infrastructure, transportation and community development will be crucial to ensure the continued growth and success of these cities.  

“Knoxville isn’t a small town, but it’s not big like Los Angeles,” Ron Wollard, who recently moved from California to Knoxville, Tennessee, to be closer to family said. “There is lots to do, Smoky Mountain National Park is right here so there are recreational opportunities and a thriving economy. It is a nice blend, and it is not a problem getting from one place to another.” 

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Survey Background and Methodology  

The 2023 Mayflower Finding Home study is based on household moves handled by Mayflower within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks the metropolitan statistical areas based off high inbound percentages (55 percent or more) of total moves in each city. TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded online surveys of U.S. adults between August 23-26, 2022, and September 13-23, 2021, to identify trends influencing relocation across the U.S. The results of both studies are representative of the U.S. population by gender, generation, and U.S. Census region. The 2022 survey included a total of n=1,000 adults from Gen Z through Baby Boomers (ages 18-76) split by those who have moved to a different state within the past two years (n=550) and those who plan to move to a different state within the next two years (n=550). The 2021 survey included a total of n=1,000 adults who have moved 300 or more miles within the past two years.  

About Mayflower 

Mayflower is America’s most recognized and trusted moving company offering a full range of moving services. With headquarters in suburban St. Louis, Mayflower maintains a network of 200 affiliated agencies. Mayflower’s annual “Finding Home” study identifies trends influencing relocation across the U.S. For more information about Mayflower and its services, visit: