What Cities Are People Moving To For Financial Reasons?

This post has been revised with new info and added to my Expense Reduction Guide: Housing.

Although it takes considerable effort, nearly 40 million Americans move every year. Now, the reasons for all these moves are not all financial, but you can improve your financial situation drastically by moving. You might increase your income, decrease your housing costs, or decrease your tax bill.

Where are people moving to? This Forbes article analyzed address data from IRS tax filings, and found that a trend that households are moving to warmer climates with lower taxes and property values. The majority of the top ten counties are in Texas and Florida, where there is no state income tax.

After accounting for property taxes, Shrum’s analysis shows that Texas has the fourth-lowest personal tax burden in the country, and Florida has the eighth lowest.

They also compiled an interactive map which shows relative inflows and outflows for each county. (Previous year’s version here). It’s pretty fun to click around to where you live, and where you might consider moving to.

Below is the map for Travis County, TX, where Austin is the major population center. A blue line between two counties mean that more people migrated to Austin than left, and a red line means that more people left Austin for that county than came in.

Where are people leaving? Places with high tax rates.

Shrum also points to eight states that have targeted wealthy households with extra-high tax brackets: California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Hawaii, Oregon, Connecticut and Wisconsin. Six of the top 10 counties the rich are fleeing are located in those states.

Personal case study. My sister used to live in San Francisco, California. She recently moved to Austin, Texas where her income increased and her housing costs decreased at the same time. Texas has no state income tax but relatively high property taxes. But since she rents in both places, the lack of state income tax becomes yet another boost to her bottom line. I should note that we both lived there for a while as children, so there is some familiarity, but she left in elementary school. From the looks of it, she wasn’t alone!

Comments

  1. This is just another example of the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor and middle class. A model that allows states to compete against each other for the wealthy makes the USA as a whole the loser. That’s precisely what is happening in NJ where lardo has vetoed a bill that would ask the rich to pay a reasonable tax to help support the rest of the state.

  2. I don’t think “wealthy households” actually move so much as the rich people in them just change which house and location is considered their primary residence.

  3. I lived in the Austin area for a few years before moving back to the east coast. Your dollar goes a LOT further down there. Real estate is incredibly cheap (subsidized by immigrant construction labor) and because people don’t pay state income tax most people have either a boat or a sports car or motorcycle to enjoy the nice weather. It was a great place to live.

  4. My county contains a large military base, so most of the moves were between other base locations.

  5. Re: Dave,
    I think your interpretation of this is all wrong. Are you suggesting that the situation in NJ would be better if the taxes were raised for the rich? This story indicates that a move like that would only push the rich out faster leaving the state with less and less revenue.

    Re: Scott,
    I don’t think the number of people who fall into the category you describe is significant. Only the very well off can afford to maintain multiple homes. You have to have millions to pull that off. I think most of these people are middle class families who get squeezed to death in the high tax/high cost of living states. It also makes sense for households bringing in $250k+. Why scrape by in LA or SF when you can live like a king in Austin? Unless you are quite rich life in these areas is not worth it.

  6. I can’t believe there are people who exist in this country that think the so-called “rich” don’t have a right to their own private property. The “rich” don’t get “richer” at the expense of anybody. It’s not a zero-sum game. Who exactly are the “rich”, anyway?

    We have examples of people pulling their children out of school and away from their friends, uprooting their families, and moving thousands of miles to try and find some safety from the long, tireless tentacles of government control.

    People are just plain tired of not being able to keep their earnings. Who am I to say what a “reasonable” tax is for another American? That’s none of my business. What’s a “reasonable” amount to retire on? What’s a “reasonable” performance bonus? Oh, I guess we have government telling private companies what that is now, too.

    The state ought not to be supported by 53% of the people. I wonder what the reaction would be if Congress passed a law restricting voting rights to only those people that pay taxes. When something is subsidized, you will get more of that activity. When something is taxed, you get less of it. Don’t tax productivity.

  7. Moss- I guess it depends what problem you are trying to solve. Whether it is in NJ’s best interest or not to have a millionaire tax is up for debate. I’m saying it’s in the interest of the country for those that can pay more to…well be paying more. When state’s compete against each other (and give out tax exemptions to businesses to move to their area) then the businesses win, and the loser is obviously everybody else.
    It actually is a zero-sum game. America’s success in the past has come laregely at the expense of other countries in the world such as China. If a millionaire leaves my state for another one with less taxes, I lose out on the revenue they provide, the state they move to gets some of the extra taxes, and the millionaire gets to keep the difference. The argument given for not having the millionaire tax in NJ is because that will cause people to flee the state. I think they should be taxed the same (percentagely) whereever they live, and yes rich people should be paying a higher percentage than other people….they can afford it. For all the whining America does about taxes, we are taxed much less than many other countries. So I say boohoo to the those making over a few hundred thousand a year that need to pay significantly higher taxes… there are people working a lot harder than you for minimum wage that will make less in a lifetime than you’ll make in a year.

  8. I’m saying it’s in the interest of the country for those that can pay more to…well be paying more

    From each according to their ability, to each according to their need?

    I work for a small business. It was founded about 20 years ago and is a sole proprietorship. Have you ever tried to do taxes for a small business Dave?

    You want to solve the tax problem in America, start by LOWERING taxes and getting rid of the millions of deductions that the wealthy can use to lower their tax bills to ridiculous levels. I know it’s trite to say that Republicans want to lower taxes and Democrats want to raise them, and I don’t think it’s true–Democrats want to raise taxes more than Republicans, but then have all sorts of credits and deductions so for the wealthy it’s a wash! Let’s get rid of the mortgage deduction (or at least severely limit it)!

    I live in one of those (southern) places where there are a plethora of lines from the northeast and other large expensive urban centers (NC).

    I can tell you, it’s NOT just the super-wealth fleeing, and it’s NOT just people getting a new address for their winter home. From my coworkers, friends, and others I’ve met, the economic refugees from the northeast come from ALL walks of life. Just yesterday I was visiting a warehouse and noticed that one of the employees’ work areas was plastered with NYC stickers…I commented on this. The guy waxed prolific about how much he loved NYC, but how with a family he just couldn’t make any money.

  9. Why wouldn’t you move if you were wealthy and weren’t locked into a job? Capital always flees hi cost environments

  10. Dave is a Marxist. I can’t stand his way of thinking. His love for government and wealth redistribution is sickening.

    “This is just another example of the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor and middle class”

    At the expense of? You go to work, you get paid what you negotiate. If you don’t like it, quit. Nobody is in slavery here.

    =====================================

    ” If a millionaire leaves my state for another one with less taxes, I lose out on the revenue they provide”

    So then your state should lower it’s taxes to keep the millionaires. And you should lose that entitlement mentality. Stop being a moocher and start being a producer.

    =============================

    “and yes rich people should be paying a higher percentage than other people….they can afford it”

    If the tax rate were flat, those with higher income would pay more just because of the way percentages work (10% of 1 million is a lot more than 10% of 10,000). But this just isn’t good enough for you looters. You want to tax at a higher RATE too? The progressive tax system is robbery. It’s nice how you know what people can and can’t afford. What gives you such devine knowledge? Things do balance themselves out though. Stupid tax policies just choke off chances to higher more workers or buy new equipment. Crazy-high tax rates shrink the money supply and slow the economy.

    ====================================

    “America’s success in the past has come laregely at the expense of other countries in the world such as China”

    How about “China’s growth has come largely at the expense of Americans spending lots of money on goods produced in China”. Our success comes from the hardwork of our citizens.

    =====================================

    “there are people working a lot harder than you for minimum wage that will make less in a lifetime than you’ll make in a year.”

    The great thing about this country is that you are free to make your own destiny. No one can hold you back but you. If you make minimum wage as an adult it’s becuase of choices you have made in life. I’m sick of this “victim” mentality people have because they made poor choices. Hard work comes in many forms, not just physical labor. You don’t become a successful business man/woman if you don’t put in the hours and work required to make things happen. It’s way easier to flip burgers than to run a company and be resposible for it’s employees. If you want to be successful, go do. If you want to have money, go make it. Quit looking to the Government to use it’s force to take wealth from others and give to you. Keep pushing the wealth creators away and see where it leads. Dave, you speak out of both sides of your mouth. You wan’t millioaires to stay in your state but you want them to pay higher taxes and like it. You all but make the point for me by saying that. If you want wealth to stick around STOP TRYING TO USE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE IT. Get off your lazy ass and go create your own wealth.

  11. Dave,

    You make the case for lower taxes:

    You said: “If a millionaire leaves my state for another one with less taxes, I lose out on the revenue they provide,”

    Solution: Lower the taxes so they stay. Duh.

    ===============================
    Dave said:
    “When state’s compete against each other (and give out tax exemptions to businesses to move to their area) then the businesses win, and the loser is obviously everybody else.”

    Winners: 1. Those in the state that now have jobs.
    2. The State: Income-tax revenue. More cash in the local economy.
    Loser: The state with the higher taxes.

    How not to be a loser state? Lower your taxes.

  12. It is a myth that people would move just to avoid taxes. The rich can avoid more taxes without any moving because they can have more loopholes created by legislatures that have been bought by them and their lobbyists. The poor have no way out but to pay through the nose.

    Most people live where they get hired to work and would never move if they cannot find work at the new place howsoever lower the taxes may become.

    There is another myth that everyone who is rich is so by working hard and not by foul means. Most rich people get rich by nepotism and only once in a while by winning a lottery or inventing something. In real life rich keep getting richer and poor keep getting poor because they believe god makes them unlucky.

    Most employees have very little negotiating power and consider any money doled by employers to them as a blessing to keep them alive.

  13. Thank you Aditya for some more common sense in this discussion.

    Robert takes away any credibility he could have when he continues to tell me that the solution is for each state to lower their taxes. That would be grand if I was complaining about how my state could make money…however I’ve clearly indicated the problem is that states are competiting against each other so that everybody loses. NJ shouldn’t have to choose between having a fair tax and keeping millionaires, although I agree it’s a false choice (but it’s the argument the republicans make for why taxes should be lower for the wealthy, so it is relevant).

    Dave is not a marxist just like Obama isn’t either. It’s a myth that mobility is easy in our society and what arrogance and laziness to say that people could simply work harder to get wealthy in our society. That’s like saying if I work harder I could become an NBA player. It doesn’t work like that in reality. I personally am fairly well off and I make a good income in a very secure job. I worked hard in academics my whole life. That contributes to about 5% of my success; the rest came from growing up in a family with supportive and relatively well off parents. That 95% was completely out of my control.
    Fair does not mean equal. Taxing somebody that makes a million dollars a year 20% and taxing somebody that makes 25,000 a year 20% may be equal, but it’s not fair. The person making 25,000 a year NEEDS that extra money… for the millionaire it just means a smaller yacht.

  14. for the millionaire it just means a smaller yacht.

    Dave, you have some very odd ideas about how most most people act, how people save money, how people are able to become wealthy and how “millionaires” act. The class envy is rather disgusting actually. And wrong.

    Typical that you didn’t even bother to respond to a single point I made while pouncing on the ideas you can score ideological rhetoric points on.

  15. @kuzbad

    I have million dollars net worth ln IRA & pension but I am not rich nor do I have any size yacht. All I have are medical bills to pay.
    You are not rich until you own any lobbyists and congressmen.

  16. If you want to limit your horizons, Dave, go for it. You’re doing a better job of illustrating your beliefs than I could ever hope to do by way of argument.

    As Kuzbad said earlier in this thread, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” That is precisely what you are promoting, and it is Karl Marx who advocated this thinking. You are absolutely a Marxist.

    Don’t work harder if you don’t want to, but don’t expect the rest of us to sit around marvelling at your martyrdom, either. I imagine we’ll be out there trying to prove you wrong; trying to brighten our own futures through the virtue of hard work.

  17. Austin indeed rocks… When I quit my last job, I could move anywhere in the country and taxes were a big part of why I moved to TX.

    What is great about America is there are 50 little laboratories where state governments can try different things… If people start flocking to one of those laboratories, it is because they are doing something right and perhaps others should imitate it.

    McDonald’s does the same thing… they try out a new sandwich or drink in a smaller market to see if it works before adopting it nationwide.

  18. Dave said:
    “I’ve clearly indicated the problem is that states are competiting against each other so that everybody loses.”

    If states are competing, what are they competing for? If there is competition them someone or something is benefiting. It makes no sense to say there is competition but nobody is winning. Those that pay lower taxes are obviously the winners be it an individual a business or otherwise. Your statement that “everybody loses” is just false.

    ==============================

    Dave said:
    “NJ shouldn’t have to choose between having a fair tax and keeping millionaires, although I agree it’s a false choice (but it’s the argument the republicans make for why taxes should be lower for the wealthy, so it is relevant).”

    It’s not a false choice. It’s economics 101. It’s not different from shopping. You go where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Just like you and I have choices when it comes to spending our money, businesses and individuals have the choice to move from higher tax states to lower tax states. If a state is struggling to keep millionaires due to its high tax policies then so be it. Either lower your taxes or deal with the decrease in revenue.

    ===================

    Dave said:
    “…but it’s the argument the republicans make for why taxes should be lower for the wealthy…”

    If you actually listen closely, republicans (or at least conservatives) want taxes lower for EVERYONE (again those that even pay). Those who want to keep class warfare alive and kicking always turn it into rich vs. poor.

    Example: The “Bush” tax cuts cut EVERYONE’s taxes (at least those that were paying). Each bracket was reduced and a an additional 10% bracket was created for lower income earners. Because of our progressive tax system, those that earn more now pay a lot more so any cut would produce the opposite affect, those that were paying more get more back and those that were paying NOTHING to begin with get to keep paying NOTHING. Then socialists and liberals spin this by saying “The rich get all the breaks and the poor get nothing”. Well DUH, you are already eating for free, now you want a check?

    ==================

    Dave said:
    “Taxing somebody that makes a million dollars a year 20% and taxing somebody that makes 25,000 a year 20% may be equal, but it’s not fair.”

    I’ll just say we don’t agree here. With those numbers, the millionaire pays out 200K in taxes and the person earning 25K pays 5K in taxes. I don’t see the problem here. Each is paying in at a the same percentage level and just like you want it, the millionaire is paying a LOT more in taxes. You start to gray things when you get into what someone can and can’t afford and people become divided, envious and alienated.

    And just to throw a curve in here. Yacht builders must make a living too. If you want to tax millionaires to the point that they can no longer buy yachts, then you must hate the hard working men and women that build them and those that sell them. Either that or you think the government can do a better job of taking care of them once they are no longer working and need government assistance.

    And yes, you are a Marxist.

  19. Hallelujah Robert….It is encouraging to see some people still see value liberty, freedom, free markets, and the resulting opportunity this generates.

    What is important is equality of opportunity, not equality of results. The Marxists may have there day right now, but it will not last forever. I have confidence that liberty will prevail in America. Until then, good luck for all those hard-working Americans in finding ways to minimize the impact of the government from looting your hard-earned wealth.

    To all the moochers (Dave, that is you) stop your whining and make your own destiny. The “rich” dont owe you anything, but continue to pay the majority of tax receipts in this country anyway.

  20. Hmm… Seems some folks are unfamiliar with the concept of “race to the bottom”.

  21. The Frugal Immigrant says:

    There is no such thing as free markets.
    There has never been such thing as free markets.
    There will never be such thing as free markets.

    Ever since markets existed – when farmers went to the market to sell their goods for metal coins or whatever was the currency at the specific era – they had to:
    - Abide by the rules of the market (no thieves and shady sellers allowed or will be lynched by the mob if nothing else…)
    - Abide by the rules of the (lord, Alpha Male, etc…) of the area
    - Pay their share to the “body” who governed the market – their “protection/usage/etc.” fee

    I’ve tried to generalize only some of the “restrictions” which any market – from the Stone Age to the far far future will posses.

    The idealistic theoretical notion of “market freedom” in the sense of some of the current and wrong interpretation of Adam Smith’s teachings is just that – an idea that has never been and will never be.

    Not a single individual living in a society of people is completely free to do what they choose – and that is a good thing.

    Some will say I take this to the extreme, but that is the whole point explaining that the term is a misnomer.

    Next time someone mentions “free market” think about it for a moment and recognize that it has never been Black or White, but just different shades of Gray.
    Then who is to say which shade of gray was better? And then – better for who? And then – for how long?

  22. No offense – but some of those who commented are just plain wrong. If you think someone that “makes more” should “pay more” then you sit down and take a look at the actual numbers.

    41% of Americans pay no income tax at all. AT ALL! In my state of Minnesota, 60% of our residents pay NO tax at all! But guess how much we pay???

    More than 50% of our income. And we pay over $10,000 in property tax each year. You may be thinking, oh well…you must be a millionaire and you “deserve” to pay. No. I don’t deserve to pay. My husband makes just over $100,000 a year. That’s a lot, right?

    It’s okay. We have a family of 5 and we pay thousands of dollars in taxes. Do we use more government services? No. There are no police or fire calls to our home.

    Do we get free medical care and food stamps? No. We pay $6000 in medical insurance costs each year. And every time we see the doctor, we pay 20% of the cost. The 60% of Minnesota residents who pay no taxes, get free medical care, free food, free legal services, free education for their children, and have all the same access to police, roads, and all other government services.

    How do you say this is fair. Why should my husband travel 6 days a week away from his family to try and earn a decent salary so we can try to afford a safe neighborhood for our children, only to have it all taken away in taxes….so that others don’t have to work. So they can live for free. It’s crap. And I’d love to see a flat tax – a large sales tax on everything that is consumed.

    That way, those that consume the most, should rightfully pay the most. Not those that work the hardest. Those that consume the most should pay the most! That way drug dealers and other black market operatives would also be paying their fair share of “taxes.”

    And FYI – while it may or may not be true that American’s got their wealth by taking advantage of other countries (China is referenced above,) you need to understand that there is PLENTY of wealth to go around.

    Wealth is being created every day. Money is time and with more people there is more time to create. More time to create money and things and wealth. There is no shortage of anything in this world. The distribution is off, but taxing hard working, high income earners is not the answer.

    I’d like to see a huge cut at the bottom – in free services and lack of tax contributions.

    Remember “no taxation without representation”? Basically, you couldn’t tax people if they didn’t have the right to vote. Well, I think people that don’t pay any taxes should have any rights to vote. They’re just voting for more free services.

    And just for the record, I don’t think anyone that makes less than $20,000 a year can reasonably be expected to pay any income taxes. Even with a flat tax, that would have to be worked out. There’s just no way to survive.

    Which brings me back to my first point. My husband makes just over $100K. We lose $8000 to the state of MN, $10,000 in property tax, $8000 in FICA/Medicaid/Social security tax, and around $23,000 in federal income tax. So before we pay our mortgage, buy food, give to charity, put gas in our car, or anything else, we have only $51,000 left. And this comes after sacrificing 6 days a week away from his family and the stress of his job.

    Insurance, car payments, and house payments eat up all but 7 or 8,000 of this money. We need to use that to feed and clothe our family. I’m sure you can guess we are extremely frugal to get this to stretch and have some sort of normal life.

    But we are “RICH” and should HAVE TO pay MORE in taxes. Isn’t 49.000 a year enough!!! Especially when so many pay nothing!

  23. Government is a great business if you can get into it. Take money from those who can pay and offer virtually nothing in return. I see no reason anyone should have to pay State income taxes or for that matter Property taxes for services that are irrelevant or not used by them.
    Why does someone with no kids have to pay for their neighbors schooling? Why do I have to subsidize someone else’s healthcare to the point that my healthcare becomes unaffordable. Why must I pay these ridiculous pension costs for mediocre government employees that never provided a service to anyone but themselves.
    I’m glad to see people sending a message to NJ and these incompetent fools in Hawaii among other places.

  24. @Angela. If you’re still monitoring this thread, you should fire your tax accountant, especially if it’s you.

    “We have a family of 5 and we pay thousands of dollars in taxes.”…”My husband makes just over $100K. We lose $8000 to the state of MN, $10,000 in property tax, $8000 in FICA/Medicaid/Social security tax, and around $23,000 in federal income tax. So before we pay our mortgage, buy food, give to charity, put gas in our car, or anything else, we have only $51,000 left.”

    100k with 2 adults and 3 children does not equal 23k in federal taxes. It just doesn’t. Especially with the 25k in deductions you listed.

  25. For everyone ganging up on Dave I think you need to undertand it’s not black and white. Are you really suggesting people not as well off such as the handicapped/autistic not get special treatment, sure some things like special schools are expensive, but even a handicap ramp into a school or public building is an extra cost to taxpayers. I think just about everyone chanting Marx retoric at Dave would agree that in this case “to each his need” is acceptable. Once you accept there are exceptions where special interest groups (including anyone who drives on a road) get government funding that benefits them more than others it is a slippery slope and totally subjective where an individual draws the line of when governemnt should stop redistributing wealth.

    The government needs to pay for things infrastructure, defense, etc. (you can argue the merits of social programs) that benefit individuals differently. The rich tend to benefit more from government spending and as such should pay a higher tax bill. The system we have they actually pay less since the majority of their income is taxed at 15% capital gains.

  26. Rents in Austin are going up 10-15% at renewals with all of the transplants. It use to be cheaper to live here……

  27. I moved from Rochester, NY to Houston in 2007. The move purely on financial reasons. 40% rise and lower cost of living with no state taxes. Its a no brainer. However, as Thad was mentioning, rents have been creeping up at every renewal.

  28. Go ahead and move to Austin, you know you want to…

  29. That’s so funny that you brought up Austin! We’re visting some friends there next week. I’m going to interview at a job while we’re there (we’ve been wanting to move there for awhile now). Our friends house cost less than ours in worth now, it’s bigger, and they bought it in 2006 before housing crisis! The lack of state income tax is a huge pull as well – the state I grew up in didn’t have one either. Property tax is high but values are low so it’s sort of a wash.

  30. We moved from San Diego to Washington DC at the beginning of 2006 for financial reasons. I was offered a position that paid more than twice what we had been earning in San Diego, though cost of living was a wash…I should mention we were living below the poverty line so in retrospect, my “huge raise” is now laughable.

    The move ended up being very beneficial to both my Husband and I. I’m now officially in your six figure club, and my husband is close behind. We were also able to weather the recession without too much financial sacrifice, and have been able to start building a nest egg.

  31. @Mike – I was going to comment the same about Angela’s figures as you did, but I hadn’t noticed until I read your comment that her post was from a while ago.

    Just to repeat, using the income tax estimator at tax-rates.org, Angela apparently is not only paying too much federal income tax, she’s over paying on state taxes, too. Using just the standard deduction (with the other mistakes, I couldn’t count on that $10,000/yr property tax figure being correct either, so I had no idea what itemized deductions should be), her state tax bill should be around $4700, and federal under $10,000.

  32. Angela – 10k per year in real estate taxes in MN? That sounds more like a choice rather than something you were forced into. There are plenty of large houses for sale in the Twin Cities area that are taxed at less than half of that.

    To say the poor pay no taxes is false. Most working poor simply don’t pay income taxes. They still often pay taxes on food, shelter, and clothing. One needs to account for this in their marginal tax rates.

    In reality, the entire nation needs to pay more taxes, and government spending needs to be curbed. The thing people are upset about is that the super wealthy are paying lower marginal tax rates than the average middle class worker.

  33. PawPrint53 says:

    We moved back to Idaho because my DH was telecommuting from another state and appearing in the office more often was an idea to avoid being laid off (he did avoid it then and again just recently). We thought about returning to the other state after retirement, but realized Idaho has a lower cost of living, moving is expensive, we have friends and kids here, and closer access to an airport and healthcare.

  34. Hey, maybe Angela’s not doing the taxes and her husband is misleading her (on purpose or accidentally)? Seriously, he may be a just grumbling and she’s misunderstanding. FWIW, I’m sure someone with double that income would still pay less than the federal tax she mentioned.

    Maybe he’s not being honest about where the cash is really going?

    @tcguy – agreed on the taxes and spending. An extra few percent at the top tax bracket won’t change anyone’s life – regardless of the BS articles that appear. And nobody is going to stop investing in companies if cap gains change. People still love making money for nothing. 85 cents on the dollar rocks. 75 cents on the dollar for doing absolutely nothing is still incredible.

Speak Your Mind

*