With states continuing to implement pandemic-related mandates and lockdowns, Florida cities saw a big influx of U-Haul customers in 2021.
According to a new study by the moving and self-storage company, the Sunshine State saw a boom of new movers last year as people and businesses took advantage of the state’s open climate. In the report released on Tuesday, Florida netted 10 spots on U-Haul’s Top 25 Growth Cities of 2021. The state claimed the top spot on the list — held previously by the North Carolina hotbed of Raleigh-Durham — as no American city or market saw more do-it-yourself movers in U-Haul trucks than the Kissimmee-St. Cloud market.
Nine other Florida cities made the top 25, including Palm Bay-Melbourne, North Port, Fort Myers–North Fort Myers, Clermont; Sarasota–Bradenton, Daytona Beach, Port St. Lucie, Brandon–Riverview, and Ocala.
“Florida remains competitive, especially during the COVID era,” said Miguel Caminos, U-Haul Company of Orlando president. “We’ve pushed through and business is thriving. It’s not just people moving to Florida, but businesses moving because they see better opportunities here.”
Growth cities were calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a city/market versus leaving that city/market in a calendar year. Migration trends data was compiled from well over 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually. Neighboring cities in U-Haul markets were often packaged together for migration trends purposes.
Alongside Florida, Texas also boasted five growth cities among the top 25, led by the College Station–Bryan market at No. 7. Grapevine, Austin, Richardson and Carrollton also made the cut. Together, Florida and Texas accounted for 60 percent of the top 25 growth cities.
Meanwhile, California ranked last among U-Haul growth states, with only the Sacramento–Roseville and San Diego markets making the list.
Additionally, arrivals of U-Haul trucks into Kissimmee-St. Cloud climbed 31 percent while departures rose 29 percent as overall moving traffic spiked in the market. Arriving trucks accounted for 53.2 percent of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Kissimmee-St. Cloud.
“Florida has always been a destination location for retirees, but more so (in 2021), I think a lot of people took early retirements and decided to come down,” said Mario Martinez, U-Haul Area District Vice President of Southern Florida. “There are many other reasons why people are coming to Florida, and have come in previous years. We have lower cost (of living) than other states. There is no state income tax – that’s a huge factor. The warm weather. Basically, we have summer weather all year long. Attractions. Our beaches. The activities. There’s just so much to do. Jobs that are available play a very important part in people moving into Florida. And during this pandemic for the past two years, we’ve also pretty much been open the entire time. This state has kept on going, and (2021) has just been busy all the way around.”