If you’re of the opinion Tennessee is a fun place to visit and would be a beautiful spot to live, take a number and get in line. U-Haul® customers are well ahead of you.
The Volunteer State posted the largest net gain of U-Haul® trucks crossing its borders in 2020, making it the No. 1 U-Haul growth state for the first time.
Growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually.
Tennessee’s influx of do-it-yourself movers during a turbulent year marked by the coronavirus pandemic means that a state other than Florida and Texas tops the growth rankings for the first time since 2015, when North Carolina led the way.
U-Haul customers made Texas and Florida their top two destinations from 2016-19. Texas had the largest net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks for three consecutive years before Florida flipped the order and became No. 1 last year. Texas is second for growth, and Florida third, for 2020.
Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia round out the top 10 states for 2020 growth as self-movers continue to migrate to the Southeast, as well as markets in the Southwest, Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions.
California ranks last by a wide margin, supplanting Illinois as the state with the greatest net loss of U-Haul trucks. California has ranked 48th or lower since 2016. Illinois has been 49th or 50th since 2015, when U-Haul began ranking states based on annual net gain.
“I’m seeing a lot of people from California move (to Tennessee) because they’re attracted to our lifestyle,” noted Jeff Porter, U-Haul Company of Nashville president. “Tennessee has no income tax and is very business-friendly. There are plenty of jobs. People and companies are taking note. Places like Nashville, Murfreesboro and Clarksville are attracting tons of new residents. Nashville is ever-growing, and even the era of COVID-19 isn’t slowing that. We were seeing movement before the virus hit, but I think the situation has pushed a lot more people away from the West Coast to our state.”
East and Central Tennessee are enjoying the biggest gains in U-Haul arrivals. The top growth cities include Knoxville, the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, Clarksville, Cleveland, Murfreesboro and Maryville.
Arrivals of one-way U-Haul trucks into Tennessee jumped 12% while departures rose only 9% over 2019, with that disparity catapulting it up the charts. Arrivals accounted for 50.6% of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Tennessee, which ranked No. 12 among growth states a year ago.
“The best thing about Tennessee is the southern hospitality. People are decent to one another,” said Clay McQuade, U-Haul Company of Knoxville president. “I believe the draw to Tennessee is the rural atmosphere. The government is still not so oppressive on zoning and regulation, so people are able to build, and cities are friendly to business. Tourism is a big draw in this region, mostly for the Great Smoky Mountains. There’s plenty to do outdoors.
“U-Haul is growing right alongside the state. We just added adaptive reuse conversions of closed Kmart® stores for new facilities in Kingsport and Bristol, and are currently building a ground-up store in Knoxville to meet customer demand for our products and services.”
While U-Haul migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the Company’s growth data is an effective gauge of how well cities and states are attracting and maintaining residents.
U-Haul is the authority on migration trends thanks to its expansive network that blankets all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. The geographical coverage from more than 22,000 U-Haul truck- and trailer-sharing locations provides a comprehensive overview of where people are moving like no one else in the industry.
* On charts (see below) previous year’s rankings in parentheses. Washington, D.C. is its own U-Haul market and is listed among growth states for migration trends purposes. Hawaii is not included since state-to-state truck transactions are inapplicable.