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Why are more people moving out of Massachusetts than in?

Why are more people moving out of Massachusetts than in?
Why are more people moving out of Massachusetts than in? 05:10

BOSTON - From Boston to the Berkshires, Massachusetts is wicked awesome.

Rebecca Connell thinks so. The married mother of two from Virginia thought she might be a lifer but she and her husband are leaving Boston after living here for 12 years.

"It's bittersweet, I would have to say. I love this city," she told WBZ-TV.

Her family also loves the outdoors, so they're building a home in Vermont. There's lots of land and a mortgage that's not a lot more than their rent in Roxbury.

"Massachusetts is expensive. Not to say that Vermont is less expensive but you get more for what you pay," Connell said.

United Van Lines has been tracking migration patterns for 45 years. The moving company's most recent study ranked Massachusetts seventh on the top 10 list of "most moved from" states. Four of the top 10 are in the northeast.

WBZ-TV graphic Information from United Van Lines

"A lot of northeastern traffic, we see a lot of migration not only to Florida but also to states like North Carolina and South Carolina." United Van Lines spokesperson Eily Cummings told WBZ.

Massachusetts has a 56 percent outbound rate. That means for every 100 people that come and go, 56 are leaving, while only 44 are coming in. The company also surveys customers about why they're grabbing the moving boxes. When it comes to these statistics, there's a lot to unpack.

  • 36% said that they wanted to move closer to family.
  • 26% mentioned a new job
  • 22% cited retirement
  • 18% said they were looking for a better lifestyle.
  • 11% said it was about the cost of living

I asked two former Massachusetts residents, Cathy, who moved to Arizona, and Ezra, who moved to North Carolina, to tell me what they like about where they are now.

"When it came time for us to retire, we realized we were not going to be able to afford to live there on our retirement income," Cathy told me.

She and her husband Mike bought a home in Mesa. It cost them $200,000 less than in Massachusetts. Cathy misses the Red Sox, but loves the red rocks.

"What I like about living in Arizona is of course, number one the cost, number two the weather," she said. "You don't shovel sunshine!"

"I'm saying this literally that a one bedroom in Southie translates to a 5-bedroom house here, at least where I live," Ezra Dyer told me.

He is a senior editor at Car and Driver magazine. His family moved to North Carolina after a tough Boston winter.

"It's like bizarro Massachusetts. You've got beaches and mountains and cities and sports teams, but without the traffic, much lower cost of living. People are generally friendlier," Dyer said.

The Carolinas are both in the top 10 of "most moved to" states, according to United Van Lines.

WBZ-TV graphic. Information from United Van Lines

Vermont is number one and Rhode Island is third. People seem to want open space. Four of the 10 - Vermont, Oregon, South Dakota and New Mexico - are among the least densely populated states in the country. When people move to a city, they're picking smaller ones.

"We are seeing a lot of migration to cities that have all the amenities of larger cities but an easier pace of life. So, you might see like a Knoxville, Tennessee or a Louisville, Kentucky, a Charlotte, North Carolina," said Cummings.

The pandemic was also a factor. People were working from home and many didn't stop. No office? No reason to live close by.

"I just wondered why am I doing this? Why am I shoveling snow at this point in my life? I work remotely anyway. Why not work remotely some place that has a much lower cost of living and better weather?," Dyer said.

Rebecca is fully remote. She'll change her address, but she'll keep her job. She's in IT and cybersecurity so she can work anywhere now. That wasn't the case before the pandemic.

Rebecca, Cathy and Ezra all made the move, but all say Massachusetts will always be special to them.

"The Red Sox are playing in Arizona later this month and so I am going to get to a Red Sox game. That makes me very happy," Cathy said.

"If someone waits in traffic here for two minutes at a rotary then they go nuts. They can't believe that there's so much traffic. I'm like, 'Go sit on 93. Tell me three minutes is a lot of traffic,'" Dyer told me.

"It has given us as family so much and it will always be considered a home to me," Connell said.

If you have a question you'd like us to look into, please email

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