How Health, Wellbeing and Lifestyle are Affecting Moving Patterns

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Maybe your health led you to seek out a new place to call home. Perhaps you’re craving an emotional reset or a lifestyle overhaul. Whatever the motivation, you’re not alone.  

According to United Van Lines 47th annual 2023 National Movers Study, people are moving for more personal reasons than ever before. Factors like wellness, community and work-life balance are driving relocation decisions for a growing number of individuals and families.  

Now, moving is about finding the place that sustains you mentally and physically. While change can be challenging, the rewards of starting fresh in a community that nourishes your whole self are for good reason top of mind.  

Health as a Top Reason for Moving in 2023 

According to United Van Lines data, many people are choosing to move to improve their physical or mental health. This is driving relocation decisions like never before. 

The desire for cleaner air and water, access to quality healthcare and a slower pace of life are motivating moves to certain states. Case in point: Over 65% of moves to Vermont in 2023 were for health and lifestyle reasons. Simply put, the state’s natural beauty, outdoor activities and healthcare options are appealing. 

Mental health and work-life balance are also priorities. About 18% of moves to South Carolina and over 20% of moves to Vermont were driven by lifestyle reasons. Natural beauty and wellbeing are drawing people in search of less stress and more leisure time. 

The trend shows no signs of slowing. As populations age and healthcare costs rise, people will likely continue moving to optimize health, happiness and quality of life. For many, a healthy environment and balanced lifestyle outweigh career or financial factors when deciding where to call home. 

The Pursuit of Emotional Wellbeing Through Relocation 

The pursuit of wellbeing is driving many to move in 2023. For some, it means escaping unhealthy environments or relationships in favor of more positive ones. For others, it’s finding a community that nourishes them emotionally and spiritually. 

United Van Lines’ data shows states like Vermont, Washington, D.C., and South Carolina saw high percentages of inbound moves, suggesting people were drawn to their natural beauty, tight-knit towns, potential for work-life balance and access to cultural amenities.  

Lifestyle Factors Influencing Where People Choose to Live 

More and more, people are choosing where they want to live based on lifestyle factors beyond just employment or family reasons. According to United Van Lines data, nearly half of all moves in 2023 were motivated primarily by health, wellness or quality of life factors. 

Many Americans — especially younger generations and retirees — are opting for locations with outdoor recreation and natural surroundings. States like Colorado (15.2%) and Oregon (15.2%) continue to draw residents who site lifestyle — read: natural beauty and opportunities for an active lifestyle — as reasons for moving. Cities like Bend, Oregon, and Fort Collins, Colorado, attract those seeking work-life balance with craft breweries, bike trails and less freneticism. 

Warmer climates also remain appealing for lifestyle reasons. Sunbelt states Florida, Arizona and Nevada have over 50% of moves driven by factors like weather, lower taxes and a lower cost of living. Places like Tampa, Las Vegas and Phoenix draw many looking to downsize or stretch their retirement savings in an enjoyable climate. 

Culture and food are also motivating some to relocate. Cities known for arts, culture and cuisine like Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon, have over 60% of new residents citing lifestyle as the top reason for their move. Many are drawn to the music and food scenes, independent spirit and natural surroundings of these locations. 

Overall, while job opportunities and family needs still drive plenty of relocation decisions, lifestyle factors like climate, recreation, culture and wellness are strongly influencing where many choose to call home.  

For those with flexibility, finding the place that aligns best with their desired lifestyle and pace of living is becoming a higher priority. The trend seems likely to continue accelerating into 2024 and beyond. 

Access to Outdoor Amenities and Topophilia Driving Moves 

A growing desire to connect with nature and access outdoor recreation is motivating some to relocate. Recent surveys show many homeowners rank “proximity to outdoor amenities” as a top priority when choosing where to live. This trend, known as “topophilia”, reflects a deep connection with a place that fosters well-being. 

As more people recognize the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outside, states and cities known for natural beauty and outdoor adventure hold strong appeal. Places like Colorado, Oregon, Washington and parts of California and North Carolina attract those seeking an active lifestyle with opportunities for hiking, biking, camping and other pursuits. For some, the motivation is escaping crowded, polluted cities to find solace in natural surroundings. 

Access to trails and green space. Easy access to hiking and biking trails, lakes, beaches and parks ranked high in 2023 relocation surveys.  

Recreational opportunities. The chance to ski, golf, kayak or rock climb close to home is a big draw for those with an adventurous spirit. Destinations that offer a variety of recreational activities in a picturesque setting tend to attract more newcomers. 

Health and wellness. Spending time in nature provides both physical and mental health benefits. Those seeking natural stress relief and a sense of well-being tend to gravitate toward beautiful, peaceful settings with clean air and water. Some even cite “therapeutic landscapes” as a motivation for moving to certain areas. 

While life in an urban jungle suits some, many crave the revitalization that comes from connecting with the natural world. As more people recognize and prioritize the restorative power of outdoor experiences, destinations that nourish the mind, body and soul will likely see an influx of new residents seeking their own personal paradise. 

It’s Not One-Size-Fits-All: Complex Motivations Behind Relocation 

For many, the reasons behind moving to a new place are deeply personal. In 2023, people are relocating for more than just a job or lower cost of living. Health, emotional well-being and lifestyle factors are playing an increasingly significant role in where people choose to settle down. 

According to United Van Lines data, states attracting the highest percentage of inbound moves are those known for natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and wellness. Vermont, for example, saw 65% of total moves coming into the state last year. The appeal of Vermont’s stunning fall foliage, skiing, local food scene and slower pace of life is drawing newcomers seeking refuge from busier surroundings. 

Similarly, Colorado’s sunny weather, natural scenery and outdoor activities motivated 48% of moves into the state. The influx of health-focused residents has earned Colorado the nickname “the Silicon Valley of health and wellness.” Cities like Boulder and Fort Collins attract those prioritizing an active lifestyle, natural health and work-life balance. 

In the South, North Carolina and Florida are seeing high volumes of inbound relocation (60% and 57% respectively). North Carolina’s Research Triangle and surrounding countryside appeal to knowledge workers in technology and life sciences. Florida’s desirable climate and lack of state income tax continue attracting retirees and families alike. 

For many, emotional well-being and connection to community are high priorities in their relocation decision. States with a slower pace of life, natural beauty and tight-knit towns are drawing those who seek refuge from the stresses of more populated areas. A sense of purpose and belonging are powerful motivators in choosing where to call home. 

Ultimately, in 2023, there’s no single reason people move to new places. Health, lifestyle and the search for meaning are profoundly shaping relocation in America. For a growing number, finding one’s place in the world is about more than economics alone. Home is where the heart is. 

Are you dreaming of fresh air, natural beauty or life that moves at a chill pace? Our city and state guides offer a wealth of information and inspiration. Ready to put your dreams to paper? It’s a great time to get a quote. 

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