By: Staff Writer

5 states where the living is so good, residents never seem to leave

The human spirit is inherently nomadic. From the earliest migrations out of Africa to the modern jet-setting lifestyle, we’ve always been drawn to explore new horizons and seek fresh opportunities. But what about those who choose to stay rooted? What compels them to build their lives in a single place, to resist the siren song of the unknown?

In this article, Cheap Insurance will delve into the intriguing phenomenon of “sticky states,” regions with exceptionally low out-migration rates. Unlike their migratory counterparts, residents of these states tend to stick around, finding their havens and building their dreams within familiar borders. What are the secrets behind this allure of staying put? Is it the strength of community, the pull of natural beauty, or the stability of a thriving economy?

Key takeaways:

  • “Sticky states” draw residents in with a potent mix of factors, including strong community spirit, economic opportunity, and a unique sense of identity.
  • These states offer diverse landscapes, ranging from mountains and beaches to vibrant cities, catering to a variety of lifestyles.
  • While cost of living and job opportunities play a role, the intangibles like belonging, shared values, and a positive outlook truly solidify residents’ choice to stay.
  • Each state possesses its own charm, whether it’s Texas’ friendly spirit, North Carolina’s balanced lifestyle, or Georgia’s deep-rooted traditions.
  • Ultimately, finding your own “sticky state” is a personal journey driven by your unique needs, aspirations, and desire for connection.

Unveiling the top 5: A look at America’s “sticky states”

Our journey takes us across the United States, uncovering the top five states where residents rarely bid farewell. From bustling cities to idyllic rural landscapes, we’ll discover the unique qualities that make these states hold onto their residents like magnets.

To find states with the lowest out-migration rates, this analysis used 2020-2021 IRS data. We also explored the latest 2023 United Van Lines National Movers Study and their similar reports from previous years, to glean some additional insights.

Beyond the specific reasons, we’ll delve into the larger questions about our own connection to a place. What makes a place feel like home? Is it the familiar faces, the shared memories, or something deeper, more intangible? Join us as we explore the hidden magnetism of “sticky states” and reflect on the powerful forces that root us to the ground, wherever we may choose to call home.

The Battle of the Flowers Parade float carrying Miss San Antonio
Roberto Galan // Shutterstock

1. Texas: Holdin’ onto the Lone Star State

Texas. Bigger than life, bold in spirit, and remarkably adept at keeping its residents within its expansive borders. But what makes the Lone Star State so sticky? It’s a potent mix of warm community, economic opportunity, and an undeniable Texan pride that keeps folks planted firmly on their feet.

Texans aren’t known for being shy. They greet you with a smile, offer help without hesitation, and treat strangers like neighbors in no time. This genuine sense of community fosters a deep sense of belonging, making it hard to imagine venturing beyond the state’s welcoming embrace. From small-town Friday night lights to lively block parties in bustling cities, the spirit of camaraderie runs deep in Texas, weaving a powerful net that catches hearts as well as dreams.

Texas boasts a booming economy and diverse job market, attracting talent from across the nation. From the energy sector in Houston to the tech boom in Austin, there’s something for everyone. This economic stability allows residents to build careers, buy homes, and raise families, laying down roots that make leaving a daunting prospect. The state’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship fuels not just financial security but also a sense of optimism and opportunity, further anchoring residents to their Texan dreams.

There’s no denying it: Texans are proud. They wear their boots, love their barbecue, and fiercely defend their state’s unique identity. This deep-rooted pride isn’t just about heritage; it’s about shared values, a common spirit, and a deep love for the land. From majestic mountains to vast plains and vibrant cities, the diverse Texan landscape offers something for everyone, fostering a sense of connection and belonging that’s hard to replicate elsewhere.

Texas is more than just a geographic location; it’s a feeling, a way of life. The combination of friendly faces, economic stability, and an unwavering love for their state makes it no wonder Texans rarely bid farewell. So, whether you’re drawn by the warmth of the community, the promise of opportunity, or the vibrant Texan spirit, it’s clear why this “sticky state” holds onto its residents like a tenacious two-step.

Cost averages in Texas

Median home price: As of December 2023, the median home price in Texas was $343,800 according to Redfin data.

Average income tax rate: Texas is unique because it does not have a state income tax. Residents only pay federal income taxes, based on their federal taxable income and filing status. The Texas State sales tax rate is 6.25%, with some localities adding an additional 2% maximum. This means the combined sales tax rate can range from 6.25% to 8.25%. Additionally, the Texas Property Tax varies depending on the county and specific property characteristics. The average effective property tax rate in Texas is 1.74%, which is higher than the national average.

Average Texas car insurance premium: On average in Texas, you can expect to pay around $1,823 per year for full coverage car insurance. Minimum car insurance coverage, however, will set you back an average of $524 each year.


Visitors to the Outer Banks on a sunny day at the beach.
Sharkshock //Shutterstock

2. North Carolina: Finding charm in the Tar Heel state

Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic coast, North Carolina offers a balanced life that resonates with residents and keeps them putting down roots. From vibrant cities to charming towns and breathtaking natural landscapes, the Tar Heel State caters to diverse desires, creating a sense of place that fosters belonging and opportunity.

Craving mountain hikes and crisp air? Hike the Appalachian Trail. Yearning for sandy beaches and ocean waves? Relax on the Outer Banks. Longing for urban energy and cultural gems? Immerse yourself in Charlotte or Raleigh. North Carolina’s diverse geography satisfies an array of lifestyles. Whether you seek outdoor adventure, coastal serenity, or city buzz, you’ll find your perfect balance within the state’s borders.

The Tar Heel State boasts a relatively affordable cost of living compared to many other areas of the country. This, coupled with a growing economy and diverse job market across various industries, makes staying put an attractive option for many residents. From research to tech, healthcare to agriculture, North Carolina presents a range of opportunities to build careers and achieve financial stability, further solidifying the decision to call it home.

Renowned for its warm hospitality and genuine community spirit, North Carolina fosters a sense of belonging that draws residents in and makes them feel welcome. From friendly neighbors to supportive local businesses, a feeling of connection permeates the state. This strong community network provides a reliable support system and fosters a sense of togetherness, making leaving a difficult proposition for many.

North Carolina isn’t just a location; it’s a culture nurtured by rich history, diverse traditions, and a warm, welcoming spirit. Whether you’re drawn by the stunning scenery, the friendly atmosphere, or the opportunities for a balanced life, it’s clear why the Tar Heel State holds onto its residents with a firm and genuine embrace.

Cost averages in North Carolina

Median home price: As of November 2023, the median home price in North Carolina was $358,700 according to Redfin data.

Average income tax rate: For tax years beginning in 2023: was 4.75%. This is a flat rate that applies to all income levels. For tax years beginning in 2024: The average income tax rate will decrease to 4.5%.For tax years beginning in 2025 and beyond: The average income tax rate will continue to decrease, reaching 4.25% in 2025 and 3.99% in subsequent years.

Average North Carolina car insurance premium: In North Carolina, drivers tend to spend $132 monthly and $1,584 yearly on auto insurance.

Children play at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta
f11photo // Shutterstock

3. Georgia: Peach perfection and southern hospitality

Georgia, the Peach State, isn’t just known for its delicious fruit – it’s also a magnet for residents who find themselves charmed by its diverse landscapes, thriving cities, strong sense of community, and deep-rooted traditions. From bustling Atlanta to historic Savannah, Georgia’s tapestry offers something for everyone, fostering a sense of belonging that keeps residents rooted in its welcoming embrace.

Georgia boasts a variety of landscapes that cater to diverse preferences. Hike the majestic Appalachian Mountains, explore the vibrant barrier islands, or soak up the sunshine on the sandy beaches. Beyond its natural beauty, the state features thriving cities like Atlanta, a hub for technology and culture, and Savannah, steeped in history and architectural charm. This variety ensures residents can find the perfect environment to suit their lifestyle, creating a sense of place that resonates deeply.

Georgia boasts a robust and growing economy fueled by diverse industries ranging from aerospace and manufacturing to healthcare and tourism. This economic strength translates into a thriving job market, attracting talent and providing residents with opportunities to build careers and secure their future. Additionally, the state invests heavily in infrastructure development, ensuring its residents have access to quality transportation, healthcare, and educational facilities, further solidifying their decision to call Georgia home.

Georgia is deeply rooted in family values and strong community traditions. Neighborhood gatherings, local festivals, and shared celebrations create a sense of belonging and connection that goes beyond geographical boundaries. Residents find comfort in familiar faces and shared experiences, fostering a sense of stability and support that makes leaving a difficult choice for many.

Georgia’s allure goes beyond its picturesque landscapes and economic opportunities. It’s the warmth of its communities, the comfort of its traditions, and the sense of belonging that it cultivates that truly makes it a sticky state. Residents find themselves not just living in Georgia, but becoming part of its fabric, creating a life woven with shared experiences and a deep sense of place.

Cost averages in Georgia

Median home price: As of November 2023, the median home price in Georgia was $348,633 according to Redfin data.

Average income tax rate: Georgia utilizes a progressive tax system with multiple tax brackets. This means that individuals with different income levels pay varying rates. Based on data from the Tax Foundation for 2023, the median effective tax rate in Georgia was 4.17%.

It’s important to acknowledge that Georgia is transitioning to a flat tax system. In 2024, the top income tax rate will become 5.49%, gradually decreasing to 4.99% by 2029. This flat rate will make it easier to calculate an average tax rate in the future.

Average Georgia car insurance premium: In the state, the average cost of car insurance is $1,638 per year, making it one of the most expensive states in the U.S. for auto insurance.

People relaxing in Dolores Park, San Francisco
Anne Czichos // Shutterstock

4. California: Sunshine and golden opportunities

California, the land of endless sunshine, breathtaking coasts, and towering redwoods, has long been a magnet for dreamers and doers. But despite its high cost of living, natural disasters, and recent challenges, the Golden State still manages to hold onto its residents with a powerful allure. So, what keeps Californians rooted in this land of contrasts?

California faces no shortage of challenges, from rising housing costs and wildfires to traffic congestion and economic inequality. Yet, many residents choose to stay, drawn by the unwavering Californian spirit and the belief that the dream is still attainable here. This optimism, coupled with a strong sense of community and a commitment to finding solutions, creates a resilience that binds residents to their state.

California’s geographical diversity is unmatched, offering everything from snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys to desert landscapes and rugged coastlines. This unique environment provides residents with countless recreational opportunities and fuels a deep appreciation for the natural world. Additionally, the state boasts vibrant cultural hubs like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, offering a melting pot of ethnicities, cuisines, and artistic expressions, catering to diverse interests and fostering a sense of inclusivity.

California is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting talent from around the globe with its thriving tech industry, creative scene, and diverse business opportunities. This dynamic environment empowers residents to chase their dreams, offering a chance to be part of something bigger and contribute to shaping the future. The promise of opportunity and the spirit of innovation keep many residents tethered to the Golden State, fueling their ambitions and aspirations.

California’s sticky power goes beyond its idyllic weather and stunning landscapes. It’s the resilience of its spirit, the diversity of its environment, and the constant promise of opportunity that keep residents rooted. Despite its challenges, California continues to hold a special place in the hearts of its inhabitants, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and the potential to chase one’s dreams.

Cost averages in California

Median home price: As of December 2023, the median home price in California was $754,900 according to Redfin data.

Average income tax rate: California doesn’t have a singular median income tax rate due to its graduated tax system with multiple brackets. Unlike a flat tax where everyone pays the same percentage, this system has varying rates depending on your income level. Research by the Public Policy Institute of California shows a median effective tax rate of 4.8% for 2021, although this may change slightly each year.

Average California car insurance premium: For full coverage car insurance, you can expect to pay about $1,967 per year in California. Minimum auto insurance coverage will cost you an average of $624 annually.


Spectators gather in open fields at the 'Balloons and Tunes' Festival in Kanab, UT
Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

5. Utah: The Beehive State’s buzzing appeal

Utah, aptly nicknamed the Beehive State, attracts more than just honeybees. Residents find themselves drawn to its stunning natural beauty, strong community spirit, and vibrant economy, creating a sticky situation for those hoping to leave. From majestic mountains to red rock canyons and vast deserts, Utah offers an adventurer’s paradise right outside the door, fostering a connection to nature that’s hard to replicate.

Utah boasts epic outdoor landscapes catering to every adventure craving. Ski the slopes of the Wasatch Range, hike through Zion and Arches National Parks, or kayak on the Great Salt Lake – the options are endless. This proximity to nature isn’t just a leisure activity; it’s a way of life for many Utahns, fostering a deep appreciation for the environment and a sense of community rooted in shared experiences.

For many Utahns, faith plays a significant role in their lives. The state’s prevalent religious values create a strong sense of community and belonging, offering support and shared traditions. This social fabric extends beyond religious affiliations, with residents readily stepping up to help their neighbors, fostering a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes leaving daunting.

Utah’s economy is thriving, boasting diverse industries ranging from tech and finance to tourism and healthcare. This growth translates into job opportunities, affordable housing, and a high quality of life for residents. With access to excellent education, healthcare, and cultural amenities, Utah presents a compelling package for those seeking a secure and fulfilling future, further solidifying their decision to plant roots in the Beehive State.

Utah’s allure goes beyond its breathtaking landscapes and booming economy. It’s the strong sense of community, shared values, and commitment to a fulfilling life that truly makes it a sticky state. Residents find themselves not just living in Utah, but becoming part of its fabric, building a life interwoven with nature, faith, and a shared vision for the future.

Cost averages in Utah

Median home price: As of December 2023, the median home price in Utah was $540,200 according to Redfin data.

Average income tax rate:  Utah has a flat income tax rate. This means everyone pays the same percentage of their income in taxes: 4.65%.

Average Utah car insurance premium: On average, the cost of a minimum liability car insurance policy in Utah is $182.39 per month.

This story was produced by and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

Provided by Stacker