As Gen Xers see their children off to college, an intriguing pattern emerges: They are moving to new states that align more closely with their late-career prospects and slowly setting themselves up for a comfortable retirement.

In fact, roughly 1.1 million Gen Xers moved across state lines in 2022, while nearly 4.7 million moved intrastate. This net migration trend is driven by a range of factors, including the broader housing market conditions, favorable mortgage rates and the desire to reduce tax burdens and overall living expenses.
However, it’s not just financial considerations guiding their relocations. Gen Xers are also seeking locations with more appealing climates and increased entertainment options. As they mature, they place a higher emphasis on quality family time, leisure activities and self-care, which further influences their choice of destination.

To find out what’s attracting Gen Xers, we analyzed the country’s top 10 states that act as magnets for people between the ages of 40 and 55—essentially the states that attracted more Gen Xers than they lost in 2022.

1. Florida

The attraction of Florida’s sunny climate is undeniable, drawing an increasing number of Generation X individuals to the state. However, this appeal extends beyond just them — in 2022, Florida experienced a substantial net population gain of nearly 240,000, solidifying its position as the top destination for relocation in the country.

Among this notable influx, almost 55K individuals belong to the Gen X generation. This migration trend highlights Florida’s status as a sought-after destination for those in search of a combination of warm, sunny weather and promising homeownership prospects.

The most significant numbers of newcomers are migrating from New York, California and New Jersey. Florida boasts an inviting average home price of less than $350K. This translates to substantial savings for those moving from these states.

The average New Yorker stands to save at least $50K on housing costs, individuals from New Jersey save nearly 20% with the average home price being $430K, and Californians make the most significant savings with over 50% reduction in housing expenses, considering California’s average home price is $713K. This allows Gen Xers to set aside funds for the exciting opportunities that await them in their future retirement.

2. Texas

Texas didn’t just roll out the welcome mat for over 75K young professionals in 2022. It also warmly welcomed Gen Xers, a sizable group numbering no less than 18.5K. The Lone Star State’s economy is in full bloom, offering a flourishing garden of job opportunities. Affordable housing options abound, and the cherry on top? There’s no state income tax nibbling away at your hard-earned cash.

Overall, Texas is a breeze for those who’ve had their fill of the wallet-squeezing expenses that come with living in California, Florida or New York. Texas homes are priced at approximately $473K, representing a 62% cost reduction compared to California, 22% less than Florida and 32% less than New York.

Bottom line, Texas is a place where you can enjoy a lifestyle that doesn’t constantly wrestle with your wallet, making it irresistible for those seeking a more budget-friendly lifestyle.

3. North Carolina

In 2022, North Carolina welcomed over 18K Gen Xers, attracted by the state’s hospitable environment. What’s propelling this net migration trend? Well, it’s the relentless surge in the cost of living that has sent these Xers fleeing from the likes of Virginia, Florida and South Carolina.

For some in this generation, it’s become a story of selling their homes, wiping the slate clean of mortgage debts and setting course for North Carolina in search of newfound financial freedom — and for some, even the tantalizing prospect of early retirement.

Within this grand influx of nearly 79K souls, the fresh arrivals tend to earn incomes surpassing the state’s average, while the real estate market offers homes priced below the national standard. Relocating from Virginia or Florida to purchase a house in NC can yield savings of up to 23% in housing costs, given that local home prices are around $277K, compared to $361K and $349K in those states, respectively.

Moreover, individuals moving from South Carolina may observe slightly higher home prices, but they can benefit from a higher average income. Perhaps it's the allure of higher income prospects or the welcoming atmosphere of the neighborhoods, but 40% of these newcomers are eagerly embracing homeownership upon arriving in the Tar Heel State.

Virginia-North-Carolina

 

4. South Carolina

For those Gen Xers yearning for a fresh start and a slower rhythm of life, South Carolina beckons with its diverse attractions. Whether it’s lounging on the sun-kissed beaches or savoring the charms of a small, Southern town and its inviting housing market, South Carolina has a lot to offer.

This is reflected in the sizable group of nearly 18K Gen Xers who made the leap to South Carolina in 2022, enticed by the promise of higher incomes, with newcomers to the state generally exceeding the state’s yearly average by at least $5,000.

South Carolina’s recent arrivals hail from North Carolina, Georgia and New York, lured by its affordable real estate market. With homes averaging less than $250K, transplants enjoy a 10% savings compared to North Carolina ($276K), a 15% advantage over Georgia ($295K) and an impressive 38% reduction from New York ($400K). As a result, more than half of these newcomers proudly became homeowners within their very first year in the state.

5. Alabama

Alabama is another magnet state for migration, with a net migration that exceeded 33K individuals. Nearly half of this figure, at least 12.4K individuals, belong to the Gen X generation. These movers are bidding farewell to their former states of residence, including Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, in search of a more affordable housing market.

For instance, individuals relocating from Georgia can acquire a home in Alabama for $198K, a considerable contrast to the $295K in their home state.

Meanwhile, newcomers from Florida enjoy an even more substantial discount, securing a home with a 43% reduction compared to prices in the Sunshine State. Lastly, those departing from Tennessee realize an additional 30% in savings on homebuying expenses ($198K compared to $283K).

This shift reflects a trend of Gen Xers seizing the opportunity for a more laid back and budget-friendly lifestyle in Alabama’s welcoming arms.

6. Arizona

In the national Gen X migration rankings of 2022, Arizona proudly claims the sixth position, attracting a robust contingent of more than 12K newcomers. While the state’s sunny climate and outdoor wonders certainly captivate those with an adventurous spirit, the true allure lies in its thriving economy and convenient proximity to the Golden State.

Although California leads the charge in providing Arizona with fresh faces, Washington takes the spotlight when it comes to the Boomer and Gen X demographics. This is evident in the fact that the average age of those migrating from Washington to Arizona stands at a mature 45 years, a clear sign of the prevailing retirement trend.

While it’s clear that Californians and Washingtonians are flocking to Arizona for its affordable real estate (priced under $400K, as opposed to $713K in California and $564K in Washington), Texans are making the move despite a 46% surge in homebuying costs.

In fact, almost 50% of the Texans chose to rent rather than buy in Arizona and might be tempted to live here to enhance their career opportunities and boost their income. The notable expansion of operations by California-based corporations such as Intel, Tesla, Charles Schwab and PayPal in Arizona has created a ripple effect, influencing net migration patterns.

7. Connecticut

Despite Connecticut’s substantial population declines over the past decade, recent migration patterns have catapulted it into the top seven nationally. In the period from 2021 to 2022 alone, the state witnessed a remarkable surge with 64K newcomers, with more than 10K hailing from Generation X.

The state’s substantial retiree community is creating a surge in job openings, luring workers from neighboring states. Despite housing costs slightly exceeding the national average, Connecticut remains more budget-friendly than its neighboring counterparts, with homes averaging $529K.

Moreover, Connecticut beckons families with great education options and safe neighborhoods. Vibrant urban hubs cater to millennials and Gen Zers by offering entertainment and nightlife, while the suburbs provide attractive retirement settings for Gen Xers.

8. Idaho

Of the more than 14K individuals who moved to Idaho in 2022, over 60% belonged to Generation X. Most people relocating to Idaho originated from California, Washington and Oregon, driven by the challenges of increasingly unaffordable real estate in their home states.

For Californians making the move to Idaho, a notable advantage awaits in the form of a substantial 40% reduction in housing costs ($429K in Idaho as opposed to $713K in California). Individuals departing from Washington enjoy a significant 24% drop in home prices ($429K as opposed to $564K), and those relocating from Oregon experience a 9% saving compared to the real estate expenses in their home state ($429 as opposed to 472K). This migration trend underscores the attractiveness of Idaho as a destination offering economic relief and more accessible housing options for individuals seeking a change in their living circumstances.

Beyond the economic advantages, Idaho’s charm lies in its vast open spaces, offering a breath of fresh air from the congestion of urban living. The state’s natural beauty, marked by its four seasons, stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, adds to its allure, providing a welcoming environment for those seeking a change of scenery.

9. Tennessee

Tennessee claims the ninth spot among Gen Xers’ favored destinations, drawn perhaps by the absence of state income tax, lower cost of living, mild climate with warm summers and the generous amount of outdoor activities.

The primary sources of newcomers to Tennessee are Florida, California and Georgia. The move offers enticing benefits, such as improved opportunities for homeownership and retirement savings. If you move from Florida and buy a house in Tennessee, you can save up to $66K, while moving from California allows you to put at least $430K in your piggy bank, as Tennessee homes cost $282K on average.

From the total net migration of 46.7K individuals, a subset of more than 8.2K individuals nearing retirement age is likely eyeing the state’s numerous affordable luxury communities for retirees.

10. Michigan

Michigan secures its place among the top 10 Gen Xer magnet states, drawing in more than 7.5K individuals in 2022. Despite a negative migration trend for other generations, Michigan stands out by attracting a significant number of Xers.

The allure of Michigan for Gen Xers may be rooted in the considerably more affordable housing options compared to states like Florida, California and Illinois, which they left behind.

With an average price of $222K, Michigan homes are 36% cheaper than in Florida and nearly 70% more affordable than in California. This affordability factor holds particular appeal for Gen Xers navigating the challenges of supporting their children through college, contemplating downsizing or diligently saving for retirement.

Self Storage Space: Facilitating the Gen X Migration

Amidst the wave of migration, these states extend a warm welcome to Gen Xers, providing abundant square footage of self storage space for settling in and securely stowing their belongings. In fact, 8 out of 10 states, excluding Connecticut and Michigan, surpass the national average of 7 square feet per capita.

Idaho storage takes the lead with over 16 square feet per capita of storage space, accompanied by an average street rate of $97 for a 10x10 non-climate controlled unit. Following closely are Alabama and Texas, both boasting more than 10 square feet per capita. Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina offer over 9 square feet per capita. Florida and Arizona also provide generous self-storage inventory, offering more than 8 square feet per capita.

Self Storage Availability and Pricing in Top States for Gen X

RankStateSelf Storage Street
Rate (10x10 NCC)
Self Storage Price/ Sq. Ft.Self Storage Inventory
1Florida $120 $1.20 8.84
2Texas $97 $0.94 10.57
3North Carolina $98 $0.93 9.32
4South Carolina $95 $0.92 9.97
5Alabama $87 $0.85 10.61
6Arizona $115 $1.09 8.5
7Connecticut $133 $1.25 5.22
8Idaho $97 $0.78 16.82
9Tennessee $100 $0.94 9.6
10Michigan $104 $0.92 5.94
StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data (December, 2023)

Here’s a look at net migration patterns in all 50 US states, plus Washington, D.C.:

Author

Theodora is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for StorageCafe and has a background in advertising and brand management. With a BA in Communication & PR and an MA in Social Media & Online Marketing, she is now focused on bringing her creative approach to the world of real estate. When out of the office, she can be found having an outdoor adventure.

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