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Moving out! Texas ranked No. 1 state for one-way U-Haul trucks in 2021

The "common sense" approach in which Texas had dealt with the COVID pandemic is one of the main reasons the state has seen growth, a U-Haul official said.

TEXAS, USA — No other state in the United States had more one-way U-Haul trucks entering in 2021 than Texas did, according to a recent annual U-Haul report.

Texas narrowly beat Florida as the top state for this U-Haul statistic, with Tennessee coming in third and South Carolina in fourth.

People coming to Texas in one-way U-Haul trucks rose 19% from 2020 to 2021, according to the report.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the migration of DIY movers in U-Haul trucks,” said Zane Rowland, U-Haul Company of North East Dallas president. “People are moving here from all over the U.S. because they know Texas is thriving."

The way U-Haul calculates this statistic is by looking at the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state compared to leaving during a calendar year. The data is compiled from more than two million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur every year.

Texas held this No. 1 position from 2016-18, according to U-Haul. Tennessee came in first last year.

Arrivals in Texas made up more than 50% of all one-way U-Haul traffic in 2021.

The "common sense" approach in which Texas had dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the main reasons the state has seen this growth, according to Matt Merrill. He is U-Haul's vice president for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

RELATED: Texas no longer U-Haul's No. 1 'growth state'

"Everybody takes care of themselves," Merrill said. "Takes care of their neighbor. But we can't be shut down. We have to deal with it head-on. We continue to be open. We put safety measures in place."

Merrill said a lot of the people using these one-way trucks are coming from the East and West Coast, specifically California.

Earlier in January, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson sent out a Tweet about this movement, saying in part, "We’ve already lured so many of their residents away, we might as well finish the job and take what’s left of San Francisco’s swagger next weekend at @ATTStadium."

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For the second consecutive year, California came in last in terms of the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks. Illinois was also second to last both of those years.

At one point in 2021, U-Haul said it ran out of enough vehicles to meet the customer demand for "outbound equipment."

"I think it's a lot due to the job growth," Merrill said, speaking on why Texas is frequently the place Californians are moving to. "A lot of opportunities here. The cost of living here is much lower than in those areas. Texas is open for business."

In Nov. 2021, home prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area started to cool a bit after the median house price rose dramatically from the end of 2020 through much of 2021. 

“The Texas economy is growing fast,” Kristina Ramos, U-Haul's south Austin president said. “With a strong job market and low cost of living, it’s a no-brainer. Texas doesn’t have an income tax, so families get more for their money.”

While the state overall saw a lot of growth, North Texas suburbs saw the largest gains, according to Merrill. Some of the area's northern suburbs, such as McKinney and Plano, were a big part of this increase.

Merrill said he expects Texas to remain near the top in 2022.

We have a lot of infrastructure growth going on right now," Merrill said. "We have a lot of companies that have relocated here. A lot of companies are building their headquarters. We're preparing for the future. And we continue to remain confident that Texas is a great place to live and do business. And we'll be here for years to come."

According to another recent U-Haul report, the Texas cities included in the top 25 U.S. growth cities based on this same net gain metric include:

  • College Station-Bryan (7)
  • Grapevine (15)
  • Austin (16)
  • Richardson (22)
  • Carrollton (25)

People coming to Richardson on one-way U-Haul trucks rose about 15% and nearly 29% for Carrollton, U-Haul says.

Carrollton is attractive to many movers due to its proximity to the D-FW metroplex while also having a housing market more affordable for families, according to Rowland.

“Carrollton is consistently ranked one of the best places to live,” Rowland said. “There are plenty of parks to enjoy and the schools are highly ranked. Carrollton has some of the safest neighborhoods. So it’s no surprise to me that it’s a top destination for people relocating in our U-Haul trucks.”

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Rowland said Richardson is attractive in large part due to it being the home to the Telecom Corridor, which is a technology business center that offers employment opportunities.

“Companies like Verizon, DirectTV and Samsung all have regional hubs in the area and provide attractive jobs," Rowland said. "There’s also a large amount of people who work in Dallas and commute to Richardson for more affordable housing. The DART Light Rail provides a convenient 20-minute commute for those working in downtown Dallas.”

Other notable net-gain cities are Haltom City, Mesquite, New Braunfels, North Richland Hills, Longview, Prosper, Pharr and Irving.

Migration to southern state overall continues to be a trend for U-Haul, the report says. Together, Texas and Florida account for 60% of the top 25 growth cities.

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