Counties that attract the most out-of-state residents

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May 23, 2023
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Counties that attract the most out-of-state residents

With the world at a standstill in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. migration patterns reached historic lows in 2020-21. Migration rates remained low—8.7% of Americans moved in 2021-22—even as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and the economy re-opened.

By comparison, U.S. migration peaked at around 20% in the late 1940s through the mid-1960s. At that time, the population was younger, more likely to rent, and single-income households were more common, making it easier for families to relocate.

While fewer Americans are moving overall today, those who do are going farther distances, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data from the Brookings Institution. Employment opportunities and cost of living are factors in long-distance moves as home prices rise and more employers offer remote work.

Stacker examined Census Bureau data to see which counties attracted the most out-of-state residents in 2021. This was calculated by determining the share of residents born in a different state. Counties with at least 10,000 residents were included in this analysis.

In the more than 2,400 counties analyzed, at least 1 in 4 residents (26%) were born out of state, on average. Many of the places on this list are located in the Sun Belt region that stretches across the southern U.S., which was gaining popularity before the pandemic.

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#30. Sarasota County, Florida

- 2021 population: 429,336
- Residents born out of state: 63.0% of population (270,563 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.9% of total
-- Born in the South: 16.2%
-- Born in the Midwest: 35.3%
-- Born in the Northeast: 43.5%

Sarasota County is on the Gulf Coast in southwest Florida, and the county seat is Sarasota. This is a retirement destination, especially for seniors looking to escape the harsh winters of the Northeast and Midwest. More than 37% of the county's population is 65 and older.

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#29. Archuleta County, Colorado

- 2021 population: 13,267
- Residents born out of state: 63.1% of population (8,378 people)
-- Born in the West: 35.0% of total
-- Born in the South: 30.6%
-- Born in the Midwest: 26.7%
-- Born in the Northeast: 7.6%

Pagosa Springs is the only incorporated town and the county seat of Archuleta County, which sits along Colorado's southern border. The San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Indian Reservation account for most of the geographical area, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is influential in the area's economic development. The largest local employers drawing transplants to the area are the hospital, the school district, and the forest service.

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#28. Catoosa County, Georgia

- 2021 population: 67,579
- Residents born out of state: 63.2% of population (42,715 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.9% of total
-- Born in the South: 80.2%
-- Born in the Midwest: 9.4%
-- Born in the Northeast: 5.5%

Catoosa County sits on the Tennessee border in northwest Georgia. The county seat of Ringgold is less than 20 miles from Chattanooga. Manufacturing jobs draw people from across the South to relocate to Catoosa County.

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#27. Teton County, Wyoming

- 2021 population: 23,319
- Residents born out of state: 63.5% of population (14,815 people)
-- Born in the West: 33.0% of total
-- Born in the South: 19.1%
-- Born in the Midwest: 25.4%
-- Born in the Northeast: 22.5%

Teton County is a destination for tourists as well as out-of-state residents looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains in a remote setting. The county seat is Jackson, and Teton County is home to the Jackson Hole ski area, Grand Teton National Park, and a significant portion of Yellowstone National Park. The majority of residents are working-age, and the main drivers of the local economy are retail, accommodations, and food services.

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#26. Summit County, Colorado

- 2021 population: 31,042
- Residents born out of state: 64.2% of population (19,914 people)
-- Born in the West: 21.6% of total
-- Born in the South: 21.4%
-- Born in the Midwest: 34.5%
-- Born in the Northeast: 22.6%

Summit County is located west of Denver, and the county seat of Breckenridge is known for its ski resort. People who live in Summit County have the longest life expectancy in the U.S. The lifestyle appeals to people across the country, judging by the mix of out-of-state residents who have moved there.

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#25. Little River County, Arkansas

- 2021 population: 12,104
- Residents born out of state: 64.3% of population (7,777 people)
-- Born in the West: 6.0% of total
-- Born in the South: 86.9%
-- Born in the Midwest: 5.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 1.8%

Little River County sits on Arkansas' southwest border, making it part of the Texarkana metropolitan area, and the county seat is Ashdown. Major employers include Domtar Industries paper mills, James Construction Group, Ash Grove Cement Company, Walmart, and the school district.

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#24. Windsor County, Vermont

- 2021 population: 57,593
- Residents born out of state: 64.3% of population (37,061 people)
-- Born in the West: 5.6% of total
-- Born in the South: 7.5%
-- Born in the Midwest: 7.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 79.7%

Windsor County is located in southeast Vermont along the New Hampshire border and near Dartmouth College. The Ivy League college draws out-of-state residents to the area, primarily from other parts of the Northeast. The county seat is Woodstock—not to be confused with Woodstock, New York, of music festival fame—and the largest town is Hartford, with a population of about 10,600.

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#23. Curry County, Oregon

- 2021 population: 23,234
- Residents born out of state: 64.5% of population (14,987 people)
-- Born in the West: 64.7% of total
-- Born in the South: 10.6%
-- Born in the Midwest: 15.5%
-- Born in the Northeast: 9.2%

Situated on the Pacific Coast in the southwest corner of Oregon, Curry County is home to a sizable retiree population. More than one-third of residents (35.5%) are 65 and older. The county seat is Gold Beach, and the area's economy depends on farming—including growing 95% of North America's Easter lilies—forest products, and tourism.

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#22. Kootenai County, Idaho

- 2021 population: 168,317
- Residents born out of state: 65.1% of population (109,610 people)
-- Born in the West: 72.9% of total
-- Born in the South: 8.0%
-- Born in the Midwest: 13.9%
-- Born in the Northeast: 5.3%

Kootenai County accounts for nearly half of northern Idaho's population. The county seat is Coeur d'Alene, which sits about 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington, and is part of the same metropolitan area. The major industries drawing out-of-state residents to the area are lumber, health care, tourism, and manufacturing.

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#21. Rockingham County, New Hampshire

- 2021 population: 312,771
- Residents born out of state: 65.2% of population (203,786 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 6.1%
-- Born in the Midwest: 5.1%
-- Born in the Northeast: 84.7%

With its Atlantic Coast shoreline, Rockingham County is part of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metropolitan area. Out-of-state residents are drawn to the area for retail job opportunities as well as those in services, manufacturing, and health care. The county is one of the wealthiest in New England.

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#20. Dade County, Georgia

- 2021 population: 16,313
- Residents born out of state: 65.3% of population (10,658 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 85.3%
-- Born in the Midwest: 6.6%
-- Born in the Northeast: 4.0%

Dade County has long been better connected to Tennessee and Alabama than to its home state of Georgia, which may explain the high share of out-of-state residents living there. Trenton is the county seat and the only incorporated municipality. Dade County is part of the Chattanooga metropolitan area.

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#19. Morgan County, West Virginia

- 2021 population: 17,144
- Residents born out of state: 65.4% of population (11,204 people)
-- Born in the West: 7.7% of total
-- Born in the South: 63.5%
-- Born in the Midwest: 7.1%
-- Born in the Northeast: 21.8%

Like other counties on this list, Morgan County's location along a state border contributes to the high percentage of out-of-state residents. Morgan County is in eastern West Virginia, bordered by Maryland and Virginia. The area's mineral water springs support its tourism industry, which includes resorts and spas using mineral water.

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#18. Hampshire County, West Virginia

- 2021 population: 23,214
- Residents born out of state: 65.8% of population (15,285 people)
-- Born in the West: 2.2% of total
-- Born in the South: 83.1%
-- Born in the Midwest: 2.9%
-- Born in the Northeast: 11.7%

Hampshire County is adjacent to Morgan County, bordered by Maryland and Virginia. History runs deep in Hampshire County, West Virginia's oldest county; the county seat, Romney, is the state's oldest city.

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#17. Scott County, Virginia

- 2021 population: 21,576
- Residents born out of state: 66.1% of population (14,251 people)
-- Born in the West: 1.5% of total
-- Born in the South: 89.6%
-- Born in the Midwest: 6.0%
-- Born in the Northeast: 2.9%

Located in southwest Virginia, Scott County is part of the Kingsport-Bristol, Tennessee, metropolitan area. The most common types of employment in the metro region include office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, production, food preparation and service, and sales.

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#16. Jefferson County, West Virginia

- 2021 population: 57,542
- Residents born out of state: 66.3% of population (38,146 people)
-- Born in the West: 6.4% of total
-- Born in the South: 66.8%
-- Born in the Midwest: 10.0%
-- Born in the Northeast: 16.8%

Like Morgan and Hampshire counties on this list, Jefferson County is located in eastern West Virginia, near Maryland and Virginia. The county seat is Charles Town, which was on the front lines of the Civil War and switched between Confederate and Union control multiple times. The county's economy is driven by retail, accommodations, and food services.

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#15. Union County, South Dakota

- 2021 population: 16,424
- Residents born out of state: 66.6% of population (10,932 people)
-- Born in the West: 8.8% of total
-- Born in the South: 5.1%
-- Born in the Midwest: 83.9%
-- Born in the Northeast: 2.2%

Union County is South Dakota's southeasternmost tip, and the county seat is Elk Point. Bordered by Nebraska and Iowa, Union County is part of the Sioux City, Iowa, metropolitan area. Out-of-state residents may be drawn to job opportunities at the area's major employers, which include Fortune 500 company Tyson Fresh Meats, Mercy One hospital clinics, Seaboard Triumph Foods, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke's Hospital, Wells Enterprises, and the local school district.

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#14. Miller County, Arkansas

- 2021 population: 42,875
- Residents born out of state: 66.6% of population (28,575 people)
-- Born in the West: 6.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 87.2%
-- Born in the Midwest: 5.1%
-- Born in the Northeast: 1.6%

Miller County is located in the southwest corner of Arkansas, where the state meets Texas. The county seat is Texarkana, which has a twin city in Texas. Splitting the metropolitan area across two states contributes to the county's high rate of out-of-state residents.

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#13. Clay County, North Carolina

- 2021 population: 10,997
- Residents born out of state: 66.7% of population (7,338 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 70.0%
-- Born in the Midwest: 8.9%
-- Born in the Northeast: 17.1%

In the southwest corner of North Carolina, Clay County sits along the state's border with Georgia. The county seat is the small town of Hayesville. The top employers are the county government, school district, and Ingles Markets. Some out-of-state residents are moving to Clay County to retire, as almost one-third (32.6%) of the county's population is 65 and older.

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#12. Houston County, Minnesota

- 2021 population: 18,806
- Residents born out of state: 66.8% of population (12,560 people)
-- Born in the West: 3.8% of total
-- Born in the South: 2.5%
-- Born in the Midwest: 92.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 1.5%

Houston County is located in the southeast corner of Minnesota, along the Mississippi River. The county seat is Caledonia, part of the La Crosse, Wisconsin, metropolitan area. Retail is the economy's main driver, followed by transportation and warehousing, as well as health care and social assistance.

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#11. Mineral County, West Virginia

- 2021 population: 27,045
- Residents born out of state: 67.1% of population (18,148 people)
-- Born in the West: 1.5% of total
-- Born in the South: 87.1%
-- Born in the Midwest: 3.4%
-- Born in the Northeast: 8.0%

Mineral County is in eastern West Virginia, the same region as Hampshire, Morgan, and Jefferson counties. The county seat is Keyser. Out-of-state residents may be drawn to the area's top employers: the federal Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, IBM, West Virginia University Health System, Walmart, and the local school district.

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#10. Teller County, Colorado

- 2021 population: 24,607
- Residents born out of state: 68.3% of population (16,806 people)
-- Born in the West: 22.8% of total
-- Born in the South: 23.0%
-- Born in the Midwest: 40.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 14.0%

Teller County is part of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area in central Colorado, and the county seat is Cripple Creek. The gold rush originally brought people to the area, and there is still an active gold mine in Cripple Creek. The tourism industry set against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains likely draws out-of-state residents, as retail, accommodations, and food services are the economy's main drivers.

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#9. Pike County, Pennsylvania

- 2021 population: 58,345
- Residents born out of state: 68.5% of population (39,954 people)
-- Born in the West: 2.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 4.8%
-- Born in the Midwest: 3.5%
-- Born in the Northeast: 89.5%

Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Pike County is part of the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area. Two major interstate highways connect the area to New York City, about 80 miles away. Out-of-state residents who work in the city and don't mind the commute can take advantage of the relatively affordable housing; the median home value is $197,600.

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#8. Charlotte County, Florida

- 2021 population: 184,837
- Residents born out of state: 68.6% of population (126,814 people)
-- Born in the West: 4.8% of total
-- Born in the South: 14.9%
-- Born in the Midwest: 37.0%
-- Born in the Northeast: 43.3%

Charlotte County sits on the Gulf Coast of southwest Florida, north of Fort Myers. The county seat is Punta Gorda. Out-of-state retirees—especially from the Midwest and Northeast—settle in Charlotte County. More than 40% of the county's residents are 65 and older.

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#7. Bonner County, Idaho

- 2021 population: 46,481
- Residents born out of state: 68.6% of population (31,892 people)
-- Born in the West: 67.7% of total
-- Born in the South: 9.9%
-- Born in the Midwest: 15.6%
-- Born in the Northeast: 6.7%

Near the northernmost tip of Idaho, Bonner County is bordered by Washington and Montana. The county seat is Sandpoint. Retail, which includes companies like Litehouse Foods and Walmart, is a major driver of the local economy that attracts out-of-state residents.

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#6. Nye County, Nevada

- 2021 population: 50,096
- Residents born out of state: 69.0% of population (34,575 people)
-- Born in the West: 56.2% of total
-- Born in the South: 10.5%
-- Born in the Midwest: 23.5%
-- Born in the Northeast: 9.8%

Nye County sits northwest of Las Vegas and borders California. The county seat is Tonopah, which draws tourists to its haunted attractions. More than 80% of the county's residents live in Pahrump, near the large Nevada Test Site where the U.S. government tested nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. The area has an aging population, with 30.6% of residents being 65 and older.

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#5. Sumter County, Florida

- 2021 population: 127,335
- Residents born out of state: 70.8% of population (90,124 people)
-- Born in the West: 3.6% of total
-- Born in the South: 19.7%
-- Born in the Midwest: 32.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 44.5%

Out-of-state retirees are drawn to Sumter County, located in central Florida. More than 58% of the county's residents are 65 and older. In 2021, Sumter County residents had the highest median age in the country, at 68.3 years. The county seat is Bushnell.

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#4. Asotin County, Washington

- 2021 population: 22,285
- Residents born out of state: 71.7% of population (15,978 people)
-- Born in the West: 81.1% of total
-- Born in the South: 6.3%
-- Born in the Midwest: 10.2%
-- Born in the Northeast: 2.3%

Asotin County is located in the southeast corner of Washington, bordering Idaho and the Nez Perce Reservation. The county seat is Asotin. The economy's main drivers are retail, health care, and social assistance.

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#3. Currituck County, North Carolina

- 2021 population: 27,575
- Residents born out of state: 73.9% of population (20,365 people)
-- Born in the West: 6.6% of total
-- Born in the South: 67.2%
-- Born in the Midwest: 8.9%
-- Born in the Northeast: 17.3%

Located on the Atlantic Coast, Currituck County sits in northeast North Carolina along the Virginia border. The county seat is Currituck. In this rural area, the top industries are retail, educational services, and accommodations and food services.

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#2. Mohave County, Arizona

- 2021 population: 211,274
- Residents born out of state: 74.7% of population (157,917 people)
-- Born in the West: 56.7% of total
-- Born in the South: 10.6%
-- Born in the Midwest: 24.4%
-- Born in the Northeast: 8.3%

Mohave County is in northwest Arizona, along the Nevada border. The county includes the Hualapai Indian Reservation and parts of Grand Canyon National Park. The county seat is Kingman, and the largest city is Lake Havasu City, population 57,100. Nearly one-third, 31.7%, of the county's residents are senior citizens.

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#1. Douglas County, Nevada

- 2021 population: 49,158
- Residents born out of state: 75.1% of population (36,915 people)
-- Born in the West: 68.7% of total
-- Born in the South: 9.5%
-- Born in the Midwest: 13.1%
-- Born in the Northeast: 8.7%

Douglas County—located in western Nevada, south of Reno—is where 3 in 4 residents are from out-of-state. It includes part of Lake Tahoe, and the county seat is Minden. Out-of-state residents may be drawn to work or retire at many resorts and casinos in the area. More than 31% of Douglas County residents are 65 and older.

Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Paris Close.

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