Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

COVID-19 changed the patterns of where people live and work. Those whose jobs allowed it left the cities. Working remotely, many found themselves with more time on their hands. Some decided to quit their jobs altogether, triggering what has now come to be called the “Great Resignation.”

How has all this affected moving trends? This is the question J & S Transportation answer in this article, where we look at moving trends in the U.S. since COVID. We start with some quick statistics that may give you an idea of how things are going. We will also look at some prominent trends, such as the great track toward Texas and the movement toward Florida and Montana.

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash


Some Quick Statistics

Here are some quick statistics to give you an idea of trends since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

  • One-fifth of adults in the U.S. moved or knew someone that did due to COVID-19.
  • More than 110,000 people left New York City between February and July 2020.
  • Between March 2020 and October 2020, more than half of the people that left New York went to New Jersey.
  • The number of people leaving New York in 2020 was 487% higher compared with 2019.
  • March 2020 to December 2020 saw the biggest moves during the pandemic, with 300,000 more people moving compared with the same period the previous year.
  • For those who left Texas, the leading three destinations they went to were Arkansas (16%), Florida (13%), and New Mexico (9%).

General Moving Trends since COVID-19

A lot of attention has been focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected moving trends in the U.S. While some use terms like exodus when reporting about Americans who left the cities for the suburbs and smaller towns, others say these reports are an exaggeration.

For instance, William Frey of the nonprofit public policy organization Brookings Institution reports that “New Census Bureau data released this month [November 2021] shows that despite the attention given to COVID-related migration out of cities, college towns, and other pandemic-impacted areas, overall permanent migration levels in the U.S. plummeted to a historically low level during the first year of the pandemic.”

Let’s take a closer look at what the trends look like for those who moved.

Staying Closer to Home

In an April 2021 article published by Bloomberg.com, Marie Patino, Aaron Kessler, and Sarah Holder propose that even though Americans are leaving cities, “There is no urban exodus.” They add that most people who moved remained close to where they came from, “although Sun Belt regions that were popular even before the pandemic did see gains.”

Patino and her colleagues use USPS and U.S. Census Bureau data to conclude that “Across the U.S., the number of people making moves that they defined as permanent was up a modest 3% between March 2020 and February 2021.” They also cite Richard Florida, a CityLab contributor who suggests that the moves compressed into the pandemic period were bound to happen anyway in the next few years.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) supports that idea that those who moved didn’t go far. The organization says, “Specifically, we see people moving out of some of the country’s most popular areas and relocating to the suburbs.” It adds, “This means that most people moved close [to] their home.”

Drifting Toward the Suburbs

One of the major moving trends noted since the COVID pandemic started is the general tendency for people to move from the cities toward the suburbs. This is the trend acknowledged by the multinational professional services network of firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

In a report entitled Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021, PWC says that the movement toward the suburbs can be explained by the fact that people are craving more space. The same report notes that “COVID has prompted many young urbanites to reconsider the best possible location and remain connected to the urban amenities they crave.”

While there is no doubt that the ability to work from home has seen more people moving to the suburbs than before, an article published by Wharton University of Pennsylvania argues that even though the cities have lost some of their residents to the suburbs, an analysis of data on moving patterns indicates the idea of an exodus into the suburbs is “largely an urban myth.”

The Wharton University of Pennsylvania adds that “There isn’t much science to support the notion that metropolitan centers will begin to shrink after decades of growth spurred by young people seeking the bright lights of big-city life.”

From Big Cities to Smaller Cities for Families

An analysis by the NAR shows a trend where families tend to move away from big cities toward smaller ones. The same organization reports that “30% of the inbound moves in small towns and micropolitan centers [urban clusters with between 10,000 and 50,000 people] were made by families compared to 24% in metropolitan areas.”

The NAR also reports a 0.8% increase in families moving into the rural areas in 2021 compared to 2020. But why do more families prefer the suburbs since COVID? Anna Cottrell writes for Realhomes.com, a website that helps people improve their homes. She reports that a quieter life, more affordable properties, and extra outdoor space are the benefits that many families, particularly those with children, increasingly find appealing.

Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

Individuals Prefer Metropolitan Areas

While those with families have preferred suburban and rural life, people living as individuals have generally chosen to move to metropolitan areas. The same survey by the NAR notes that seven in every ten people who moved into urban centers in the first half of 2021 were individuals, while fewer individuals moved into smaller cities.

Why Are People Moving since COVID?

From the insights above, it’s clear that when COVID started spreading across the U.S. in early 2020, many people moved both permanently and temporarily, creating what some call pandemic migrants. But what were the main reasons that forced people to move since the pandemic started?

Generally, most of the people that moved permanently since COVID was declared a pandemic are people who were always on the brink of moving. As some have noted, COVID forced many people who already had the intention of moving to hasten their final decision and move earlier than they would have had there not been the COVID pandemic.

However, temporary moves were triggered mainly by educational institutions, firms, and organizations that were forced to close down their activities due to various lockdowns in different states.

Lower Cost of Living and Higher Quality

An October 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) report said, “The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year.”

The above WHO statement may sound like a description of a poor developing country. However, anyone who saw Americans line up for food parcels at the pandemic’s peak as 9.4 million people lost their jobs, would understand that the statement also speaks to the U.S. Therefore, it’s understandable why around 35% of moves related to COVID happened because of financial hardships.

Even though many moved to the suburbs intending to find a lower cost of living and higher quality of life, rising demand in such areas may undermine the eventual savings. Writing for CNBC.com, Shawn Baldwin reports that “With homeowners unwilling to sell, a record low supply of homes for sale has forced buyers into intense bidding wars.”

The idea that people moved to places where they expected to spend less is supported by the Bloomberg CityLab report, which indicated that regions in San Jose and San Francisco, two of America’s most expensive housing markets, experienced the highest increases of people permanently moving out during the pandemic (17% and 23% respectively). The national rate is 3%.


Ability to Work Remotely

If there is a silver lining from the COVID pandemic, it would be the fact that we learned that people could be as productive working from home as they are when working from the business office. Consequently, many people decided to move because they could now work from wherever they wanted.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


A McKinsey Global Institute report proposes that while remote work was perceived by many as a good to have, COVID made it a necessity. The same institute forecasts that the pandemic will leave over 20% of the global workforce working from home most of the time. This is primarily true for individuals in high-skilled jobs in sectors like I.T., insurance, and finance.

The working from home trend also led many to reconsider whether they wanted to remain in places they didn’t like because of a job. This trend has led to the so-called “Great Resignation,” which continues in 2021. For instance, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April 2021 alone.

Avoiding Exposure to the Virus and Supporting Family

A survey by the moving labor services provider, HireAHelper, concludes that 36% of respondents moved to a place where they felt safer. These individuals were looking for a place where they were less likely to become infected with the virus.

Even though many people were moving to safer places, 10% of the respondents in the HireAHelper survey indicated that they moved into areas where restrictions were less stringent and amenities like schools remained open.

Where Is America Moving To?

The Great Track toward Texas

The reality that Americans have been moving into Texas in huge numbers in the last decade is generally accepted. For example, a press release published by the Associated Press indicated that more than half a million people moved to Texas in the year before COVID.

Bankrate.com, a website that provides consumers with tools to compare services, writes, “Known for modest taxes and affordable housing, Texas added an estimated 373,965 residents from mid-2019 to mid-2020.”

About 10% of the people moving to Texas during COVID-19 are from California, reports Bill Hethcock of the Dallas Business Journal. But where does he get these numbers? From a study whose results were released by the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University in October 2021.

Photo by Luke Dahlgren on Unsplash

Flocking to Florida

A report published by BusinessInsider.com in May 2020 shows that 900 people are moving to Florida per day. This situation has resulted in home sales in the state more than doubling since the beginning of the pandemic.

But how did the pandemic encourage many people to consider relocating to Florida? In an article published by the New York Times, Marcelle Sussman Fischler attempts to find the answer by speaking to some of the people that moved during the pandemic. One family that moved says, “The pandemic made us re-evaluate the way we were living. It gave us the time to reflect.”

Fischler reports that many of the people that moved to Florida from areas like New York were lured by the prospect of paying less tax. One resident who moved says, “I was very happy to be here in the warm weather during COVID. We are outside all the time.”

Moving to Montana

Montana has been a popular destination for people that wanted to move since the start of the pandemic. So many people have been moving to Montana that the state has regained the second U.S. House seat that it gave up 30 years ago.

USNews.com reports that the population growth in Montana is “led by towns known for their proximity to outdoor recreation, including Bozeman, Missoula, and Kalispell.” It adds, “The overall population has grown to over 1.08 million — about a 10% increase.”

The Great Migration West For Auto Transports

We have been delivering vehicles to private individuals in the United States for over two decades. In that period, we have become experienced at forecasting the general trends in vehicle movement at different times. However, as the economy gets back on its feet following the pandemic’s peak in 2020, we have noticed a significant shift to the west.

To conclude that there is a great shift to the west post the peak of the pandemic, we analyzed our quote data from June-November 2019 (pre-pandemic) and compared it to the same months in 2021 (post-pandemic peak). We discovered is that there has been a great migration west for auto transports.

Why the Shift?

We notice an interesting shift in the direction in which people asking for quotes are interested. However, we need to say that people ship vehicles for two reasons: they are moving, or they are buying vehicles from another state and having them shipped to them.

Because there is certainly a difference between vehicle movement pre-COVID and after the pandemic’s peak, we can only speculate. Maybe people are moving west to flee lockdowns or mask mandates, and they need their vehicles with them. Maybe the cost of living is less in the west, so more people are moving there? Maybe people are moving west because they want more “open space” because they fear COVID?

Arizona has seen a 22% increase in people moving there Photo by Lisa Campbell on Unsplash

Greater Increases in the West than in the East

Our data shows that 13 of the 23 states west of the Mississippi that we ship to saw increases. This means that over half of the states west of the Mississippi saw gains in the number of vehicles transported to them. There are technically 24 states west of the Mississippi, but we currently don’t ship to Hawaii, so it was excluded in our analysis.

Of the 13 states in the west that saw increases, the increase was 22%. The states in the west that saw increases include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas.

Only 7 of the 26 states east of Mississippi (and Washington D.C.) that we ship to saw increases. This means that only around a quarter of the states in the east saw increases. There are 26 states east of the Mississippi, but we added Washington D.C. in our analysis and ended up with 27 shipping destinations.

Of the seven states in the east that saw increases, the increase was only 7%. The states in the east that saw increases include Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Maine.

For more moving trends go here.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.