Gen Z may prioritize job opportunities and sunshine over affordability when moving out of state. A new Zillow analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey (ACS) finds Gen Z interstate movers flocked to California, even as the state experienced the highest outbound migration among all out-of-state movers. But Arizona is also attracting a high number of out-of-state movers.

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Nearly 215,000 movers left California in 2022, yet the Golden State saw a net positive gain of nearly 44,000 Gen Z adults who moved there from other states, according to the data released in October.  

It’s not just California. Gen Z movers, excluding students, migrated to other relatively more expensive states compared to all interstate movers. Washington, Colorado and Virginia were among the top 10 states with the highest Gen Z net migration but had minimal or negative net migration among all movers who switched states. 

More than three-quarters of Gen Z adults who moved to these pricier states are renting (77%). An analysis of ACS data shows renters can expect to pay more per month to rent in California ($1,856), Washington ($1,592), Colorado ($1,594) and Virginia ($1,440) versus the median rental price nationally ($1,300).   

“Compared to all interstate movers, Gen Z adults who moved to California, Washington, Colorado or Virginia were more likely to have a four-year college degree, more likely to be serving in the military, and more likely to work in tech, ACS data shows,” said Edward Berchick, a principal population scientist at Zillow. “Gen Z movers are likely drawn to the job opportunities in these states, despite the higher costs of housing. They may also be in a stage of life where they’re willing and able to be flexible in their standards of living while starting their careers.” 

Texas far and away gained the most Gen Z movers. When adding up inbound and subtracting outbound moves, the Lone Star State had a net gain of more than 76,000 Gen Z movers. California gained the second highest number, followed by Florida, which saw the highest net migration among all interstate movers. 

Michigan, Maryland and Idaho had the lowest Gen Z net migration. Michigan was the only state where more Gen Z movers departed than arrived.   

In Zillow’s analysis of ACS data, Gen Z is defined as those born between 1996 and 2004. To avoid capturing the temporary moves of college students, these statistics exclude respondents who reported attending school in the past three months.