Why are people leaving Michigan?

Michigan is a state with a decreasing population while most other states are gaining new residents.

Michigan saw a decline in population last year due to deaths out-numbering births and migration to other states according to the US Census. In total the state lost about 40,000 people. On the upside, only 14,000 of those were due to moving out of state. This is good news for Michigan as this number has been higher in the past — 26,000 per year from 2010 to 2019, and 54,000 people per year from 2000 to 2009.

But Michigan’s slow growth rate worries state and local government officials who rely on taxes to support public services. Of some concern is that early data indicates that those moving out of Michigan are younger and more educated, which is precisely the kind of residents Michigan has been trying to attract.

This leads many to ask, why are people leaving Michigan? We’ll get to that in a second!

How to leave Michigan

Ready to make the move and leave Michigan behind? The first thing you need to do is decide where you want to move. Maybe you already have a place in mind because it’s closer to friends and family or you have a job lined up somewhere. If not, check out popular moving routes to get an idea of some of the best places to move to.

Once you know more about your move, start gathering moving quotes. This way, you can compare the cost to move whether you go for a moving container company, a professional mover, or a DIY move with a rental truck.

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Why are people leaving Michigan? Top reasons

There are several factors contributing to Michigan’s population decline. These include the weather, birth rates, and the cost of living. Here we’ll dive deeper into why people are leaving Michigan — and where they’re going.

The birth rate is rapidly decreasing and the workforce is shrinking

One issue is that births in Michigan have been down to their lowest level since 1941. At the same time, deaths are increasing. In 2021, there were only 105,022 births and 117,756 deaths, shrinking the state’s future workforce. According to the state’s demographer, deaths are on track to eclipse births in Michigan by 2030, which comes only a few years before they do nationwide. 

A lot of Michigan’s history indicates that the state was a destination before the 2000s. However, after entering the new millennium, about 570,000 residents left Michigan for other states.

The state is sustaining a net out of migration due to younger people moving out for better opportunities, like jobs and education, among other reasons. Job seekers primarily triggered the out-migration of Michigan.

The lake effect

Aside from job opportunities, the outflow of migration from Michigan correlates to a pattern seen throughout Midwestern and Northeastern states: searching for warmer weather and the sun. Michigan residents who seek a more hospitable climate are relocating to Florida and moving to Texas.

Winters in Michigan can be extremely harsh, with each year providing residents with some lake effect snow. Living in Michigan can feel like you are in a coastal region since the Great Lakes surround the state. Living near so much water means that you will be getting plenty of lake effect snow during all the winter months. Sure, snow creates beautiful scenery, but it can also lock down a community for days or weeks at a time.

Residents of the Upper Peninsula feel the effects even worse. The town of Calumet averages around 160 inches of snow per year. Their record high was set in 1978-1979 with almost 360 inches of snow.

Beaches full of tourists

Living in the Midwest limits your ability to visit beaches. The only beaches residents can find are the ones around the Great Lakes. Of course, there are state parks and smaller bodies of water that offer room for sand, but it isn’t the same as visiting the ocean. Tourism has its advantages for the economy, but it also means the sand will be packed with people and littered with supplies and trash.

Large amounts of snow

Unlike regions along the east coast, Michigan schools and businesses will not close because there is some snow on the ground. If temperatures plunge below zero, there is still the expectation that you continue with your work and plans for the day. Places like Texas, the southeast, or even the Pacific Northwest will get a snow day for a light dusting because the adjustment of driving through snow can be a challenge. Living in Michigan requires you to splurge on a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The unpredictable weather year-round

In Michigan, the weather can be very unpredictable. It isn’t out of the ordinary for a summer gathering to all of a sudden experience freezing temperatures if close to the Canadian border. There is the possibility of massive hail and sleet storms in July. There have even been times when it was exceptionally warm in the state during the winter months.

Transportation structure issues

As with any location, the roads in Michigan are far from perfect. There have been numerous budgeting issues in the state that have significantly impacted how many services are available. For example, Detroit used to be a busy city, but now, income levels are being cut from taxes with the changing economy and employment opportunities.

The weather causes cracking and pothole development; there are times when non-critical repairs are placed on the back burner or don’t happen at all. Your typical Michigan resident will tell you the road conditions are not good.

Michigan residents will say that it can take countless hours to reach the Upper Peninsula by car. It is a daunting trip that most people dread.

The cost of education

For Michigan, tuition costs are higher for in-state students than it is throughout most of the country. Michigan ranks in the top 10% of high priced education with an average tuition cost of $8,916 for in-state and $18,706 for out-of-state. The national average tuition is $6,963 for in-state students and $12,914 for out-of-state. So your student debt level will be much higher if you want to pursue a degree. The option to pursue a manufacturing and industrial job are present, but you still need to consider the cost of school when evaluating all the aspects of Michigan. 

Taxes & insurance

The taxes in Michigan are flat rate, at a 4.25% individual income tax rate, which is more than the national average, but still cheaper than California. Property taxes are also the highest rates in the country. Up to 1.5% depending on where you live. This adds up to roughly $1,324 per $100,000 of assessed home value. Lastly, with sales taxes, you are looking at another 6% on top of your purchases of goods.

While living in Michigan, you can expect to pay more for auto insurance than in other states. This is partly due to the legislation passed related to the No-Fault Car Insurance System. Compulsory Personal Injury Protection is a contributing factor as well. This accounts for a majority of why people are leaving Michigan.

Who is leaving Michigan?

A 2022 study by United Van Lines reported outbound moves from Michigan were a mix of GenXers and retiring baby boomers. Many reported wanting to be closer to family, or had lifestyle changes due to retirement. Younger people reported wanting to locate to more vibrant cities that had better job opportunities.

Where are people moving to from Michigan?

The United States Census Bureau displays data that shows Florida and Texas added more residents than any other US state within the past few years. Both of these states are desirable to live in because they both have beaches along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Neither state collects an income tax from residents, and they both offer residents the best asset protection laws throughout the country. The laws protect IRA’s and pensions, equity in a home, and insurance proceeds.

The cost of living in Florida and Texas is lower than in Michigan, while the tax rates in the two southern states rank among the lowest. Florida and Texas rank among the best places to retire for various reasons. Those settling down and preparing for retirement look forward to enjoying all Florida and Texas have to offer or a better lifestyle than what they had in Michigan.

Moving out of Michigan

If you are considering moving out of Michigan, you want to make sure you are fully organized and prepared to do so. The highly successful moving company, United Van Lines, reported that 57.7% of its Michigan moves were outbound while only 42.3% were inbound.

Other statistics from United Van Lines state that one-third, about 33.5%, of outbound moves from Michigan was due to jobs. At the same time, another 28% of its customers cited reasons for family considerations. The other reasons customers gave for leaving the state were retirement, which accounted for 26.94%, lifestyle, which equated to 16.44%, health at 5.71%, and cost of living, which sat at 1.83%.

The reasons why people are leaving Michigan to mirror that of most states. People seek more or better opportunities, whether for jobs, family, or lifestyle needs. There is also a percentage who consider the weather, thus being the harsh winter months. The lake effect can be a real turnoff for someone who isn’t particularly fond of the winter. Huge amounts of snow are the norm, and for someone who isn’t used to or had enough of it, it will be all the more reason for them to move out of the state.

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