Whether it’s an economic opportunity or the need to find a more suitable home, moving is a common phenomenon in America. And while most people who move tend to stay within the same area, subway-to-subway migration trends are producing noticeable population shifts across the country, which could shape the way subways develop.

For example, our previous analysis of subway-to-subway migration found that the fast-growing economic centers of the Sun Belt with advantageous costs of living experienced net population growth through exchanges with other subways. The US Census Bureau released its latest subway-to-subway migration data in September 2021, so we decided to find out how the internal population movement had changed since our last survey.

Sun Belt Metros Continues To Gain Residents Through Metro-to-Migration

As in our previous immigration report, the Sun Belt maintained its status as a popular destination for Americans moving to a new urban area. Granted, certain areas in the South and Southwest have the perfect mix of conditions to attract new residents: warmer climates and more sunny days each year; employment opportunities in high-value industries for recent graduates; and lower rent and cost of living than some higher density coastal areas. The latter factor also means that these areas are potentially great for digital nomads and remote working – which will be a major draw in the post-pandemic world as many companies plan to shake up their working models.

#1 – Phoenix

Phoenix retained its title as the most popular metro for immigration with an average of 49,882 residents per year obtained from exchanges with other metros. The Valley of the Sun took in residents from all over the country, with the three largest contributors being Los Angeles, Tucson and Chicago.

Phoenix also took first place in our previous ranking, with an annual net population increase of 42,869 between 2013 and 2017. This means that metro influx has accelerated in the latter part of the decade. As always, the causes are multi-faceted, but the most common reasons for the sprawling metro’s growth include relative affordability, the technology boom that is fueling demand for office space in Phoenix, and the subway’s popularity as a retirement destination — meaning the subway’s American can attract citizens of all ages, anywhere in the country.

#2 – Inland Empire

The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (MSA) metropolitan statistical area also held up as the U.S. subway with the second-largest population intake from subway-to-subway migration, with a net population of more than 40,000 per year. In fact, the subway — which is also known as Inland Empire — gained an additional 5,000 inhabitants per year compared to the previous time frame. Neighboring Los Angeles supplied the metro with most of its new residents: Inland Empire had 45,000 net residents per year in LA alone.

One of the biggest draws to Inland Empire is its lower cost of living compared to other Golden State subways. The transport and storage industry in particular is a mainstay of the local economy here. And given that jobs related to warehousing and logistics are among the fastest-growing in the country, Inland Empire has the potential to remain a magnet for subway-to-subway migration.

#3 – Dallas-Fort Worth

Dallas-Fort Worth occupies the last spot on the podium, with an average net income of more than 39,000 residents per year between 2015 and 2019. Like the two other entries on the podium, DFW’s population absorption increased towards the end of the year. the previous decade.

The metro was also ahead of other cities in the state, including Houston, which ranked third in our previous article but fell just outside the top 10 this year. Individuals moving to the area from major out-of-state subways — such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — were the main driver of the metroplex’s population influx as DFW loses net population to both Houston and Austin. .

A variety of aspects attract movers to the Lone Star State’s largest metro: The area has economic factors, such as a business environment that accommodates both giants and startups, as well as employment opportunities in technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and resource extraction. But Dallas-Fort Worth is also one of the best subways for Gen Zers, with a young population and many higher education options.

#4 – Austin

With an average of 27,251 net residents per year from other metros, Austin came in fourth on our list, primarily by winning in population exchanges with other Texas metros, including Houston, DFW, and San Antonio. However, the metro is one of the most popular locations in the entire country for people looking to relocate. In fact, Austin’s population has a high proportion of millennials, who are attracted by the job availability and lively atmosphere.

But Austin’s population is growing rapidly from sources other than young professionals moving house: According to data from the U.S. Census, the metro’s total population grew by a whopping 33% between 2010 and 2020, making it the fastest-growing metro of the 50 largest. subways in the us

#5 – Las Vegas

Las Vegas received 25,775 residents per year from other metros between 2015 and 2019 — nearly 6,000 more residents per year compared to our previous study, meaning population influx accelerated significantly by the end of the decade.

One of Vegas’ biggest draws is that it’s a more affordable option for residents relocating from California’s subways, the main sources of subway-to-subway migration. However, the local economy — which now combines both the traditional entertainment industry and other more diversified sectors, such as those driving the demand for office space in Las Vegas — means that the metro also offers economic opportunities for businesses and workers.

#6 – Tampa

Florida made three entries on our list — the most of any state — and the highest-ranking among them was Tampa at #6, with just over 25,000 residents extracted each year from other metros.

In addition to the Sunshine State’s status as a popular destination for retirees, employment and economic factors are also driving its population in, especially from New York City. Here, industries such as professional and business services; finance and technology are all driving employment in Tampa’s office spaces and can entice potential residents.

#7 – Jacksonville

Next on the list was Jacksonville — a new entry with a net inflow of 20,388 residents per year from subway-to-subway migration. The combination of immigration to Jacksonville and new residents obtained from other sources meant that the subway reached a population of 1.6 million people in 2020, according to US Census data – a 19.3% increase from the previous year. the 1.34 million in 2010.

Jacksonville benefits from a robust healthcare sector on top of a diversified mix of other industries. In addition, a well-developed tourism industry and affordable cost of living also contributed to the net inflow of residents to Jax, whose main population sources are Miami; Orlando, Florida; and New York City.

#8 – Orlando

Orlando came in just behind Jacksonville with 20,036 residents earned per year through immigration, with many people moving here from Miami and New York City.

With a similar business climate to Jacksonville, Orlando also has many attractions in addition to the great weather. And the subway’s diverse population grew significantly from other sources, too, from 2.13 million in 2010 to 2.73 million in 2020 — a 25.3% increase — making it America’s second fastest-growing metro in America. the past decade.

#9 – Charlotte

Charlotte got an average of 19,712 residents from other metros between 2015 and 2019, which was a small drop from the 21,143 recorded in the time frame of our previous study.

Even so, it is still one of the fastest growing metros in the country when other population sources are taken into account. In fact, over the past decade, Charlotte was the ninth fastest growing major metro, in percentage terms, with a population increase of 18.6%. The subway is likely to continue to draw residents from both the Carolinas and New York City — the main source of residents moving there — especially given the economic landscape poised for remote work.

#10 – Raleigh

Raleigh rounded out the top 10 with an average of 19,166 residents per year between 2015 and 2019. The subway is popular for both relocations within North Carolina and arrivals from other states.

In previous studies by CommercialCafe, the city was notably identified as an excellent option for both Gen Zers and Millennials, which is reflected in its population influx. But in addition to these demographics, Raleigh also gets residents from other sources, as the population grew by 25.1% between 2010 and 2020, reaching 1.41 million last year.

While the pandemic has initially cast doubt on previous mobility trends, Americans are quickly picking up the pace. And remote working and other economic shocks caused by COVID-19 have likely pushed Americans to the suburbs. The same Sun Belt economic hotspots that gained in subway-to-subway migration before the pandemic are likely to maintain or even accelerate their momentum as people look for better affordability, coupled with more high-quality jobs that can function in work models. remote or hybrid work.


  • The annual net population increase is calculated by subtracting the number of inhabitants lost to other metros between 2015 and 2019 from the number of inhabitants gained from other metros between 2015 and 2019.
  • We looked at migration between metropolitan statistical areas in the contiguous United States, as delineated by the US Census Bureau. For clarity and brevity, we have used the usual metro names instead of the official census names for the metro areas. Specifically, Inland Empire is the common name for the metropolitan area adjacent to the Los Angeles metro, made up of several cities in western Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County.
  • Metro to metro migration estimates for 2015-2019 were released by the US Census Bureau in September 2021.
  • Non-internal migration, as well as migration to or from places that are not part of a metropolitan area, are excluded.
  • Population growth data from all sources between 2010 and 2020 was also provided by the US Census Bureau.
  • For each of the top 10 metros, the top three sources for metro migration and the top three destinations for metro migration were highlighted.