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Image shows two high-earning young professionals moving into a new home. SmartAsset analyze data from the IRS to conduct its 2021 study on where rich young professionals are moving.

The number of people who move each year within the U.S. has been steadily decreasing for years. The U.S. Census Bureau says that while more than 42.6 million people moved within the country in 1999, that number fell to 31.4 million by 2019. Despite this trend, younger people are more likely to move than those in other generations and some states are particularly attractive for wealthy young professionals. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset examined data to identify and rank the states where rich young professionals are moving.

This study looks specifically at the movement of rich young professionals, defined as individuals younger than age 35 with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) of at least $100,000. We examined the inflow and outflow of wealthy young professionals from each state between 2018 and 2019 to determine the states where members of this demographic are moving the most. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s third annual look at the states where rich individuals under the age of 35 are moving. Check out the 2020 rankings here.

Key Findings

  • The West and South are most popular. The 10 states where rich young professionals are moving the most are all either west of the Mississippi River or part of the Sun Belt, which stretches across the southern half of the country.
  • Big cities don’t mean big gains. The states that are home to the country’s three largest cities – New York, California and Illinois – did not fare well in this study. New York ranks last, having lost a net total of more than 4,600 rich young professionals between 2018 and 2019. Illinois was second to last with a net loss of 2,638 wealthy young taxpayers. California was middle of the road with a net gain of just 17 wealthy young residents, good for No. 22 on our list.

Image is a map by SmartAsset titled "Top 10 States Where Rich Young Professionals Are Moving."

1. Washington

For the second year in a row, Washington State was the most popular destination for rich young professionals to relocate. Nearly 8,450 people under the age of 35 and making at least $100,000 per year moved to the Evergreen State between 2018 and 2019, while fewer than 5,600 left the state. In total Washington State saw a net inflow of more than 2,850 rich young professionals between 2018 and 2019.

2. Texas

Only California and New York State had more wealthy young professionals move in between 2018 and 2019 than Texas, which registered 12,300 new residents under 35 years old making $100,000 or more. Since the Lone Star State saw a total outflow of 10,161 rich young professionals, it recorded the second-highest net migration (2,183) in the U.S.

3. Colorado

Between 2018 and 2019, Colorado experienced a net migration of 1,937 rich young taxpayers, the third-most in the country. During that time, 5,867 people under the age of 35 making at least $100,000 moved into the state, while 3,930 moved out.

4. Florida

Like Washington and Texas, Florida is one of nine states without state income tax, making it an attractive destination for wealthy young professionals who are relocating. The Sunshine State had a total inflow of 7,391 rich young people between 2018 and 2019 and a total outflow of 6,135. That means the state netted 1,256 new residents younger than 35 making at least $100,000.

5. North Carolina

Between 2018 and 2019, North Carolina netted 920 new residents who fit the criteria as rich young professionals. Nearly 32% of those new taxpayers were making at least $200,000, the highest rate of any state in the top 10.

6. Arizona

Arizona jumped up three spots from last year’s list, when a net 509 wealthy young professionals moved to the state. Between 2018 and 2019, the Grand Canyon State netted 729 new residents under the age of 35 making at least $100,000.

7. South Carolina

South Carolina, which fell just outside the top 10 in 2020’s rankings, jumped up four spots in 2021. The state saw 2,276 rich young professionals become residents between 2018 and 2019 and just 1,632 leave the state. That left South Carolina with a net gain of 644 new residents under 35 years old making at least $100,000.

8. Tennessee

Tennessee had a net gain of 554 new taxpayers who were under 35 and making at least $100,000 between 2018 and 2019 – the eighth-highest in the country. Like in North Carolina, people making at least $200,000 comprised over 30% of Tennessee’s net population gain during that timespan.

9. Oregon

Oregon slid two spots on this year’s list after taking seventh place in 2020. Between 2018 and 2019, nearly 2,590 wealthy young taxpayers moved into the state, while just over 2,050 moved away. That left Oregon with a net gain of 536 new taxpayers under 35 years old making $100,000 or more.

10. Idaho

Idaho, a third state located in the U.S. Northwest, rounds out the top 10. While it is less populous than the other nine states on this list, Idaho gained a net total of 410 new residents under 35 earning at least $100,000 between 2018 and 2019. This marks the second consecutive year Idaho ranked in the top 10.

Image is a table by SmartAsset titled "States Where Rich Young Professionals Are Moving: 2021 Edition."

Data and Methodology

To where rich young professionals are moving, we considered data from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. We defined rich young professionals as people under the age of 35 who have adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 and above. More specifically, we closely examined the following two metrics:

  • Inflow of rich young professionals. This is the number of young professionals with adjusted gross incomes of at least $100,000 who moved into the state. For this study, we defined young professionals as people 35 and under. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2018-2019.
  • Outflow of rich young professionals. This is the number of young taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of at least $100,000 who moved out of the state. For this study, we defined young professionals as people 35 and under. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2018-2019.

To rank the states, we determined each state’s net inflow of rich young professionals. This is the inflow minus the outflow. We then ranked the states according to net inflow in descending order.

Investing Tips for Rich Young Professionals

  • Find the right asset allocation. How much money should you have invested in equities? How about fixed income assets? If you’re unsure, try our free asset allocation calculator to determine how your portfolio should be composed based on your risk tolerance.
  • Work with an advisor. If you’re a high-earning young professional, consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor to get the most out of your investments. A fiduciary advisor can help you manage your money, design a portfolio to meet your goals and assist you in any financial planning needs that you may have, like saving for retirement and education planning. Don’t know where to begin? Try SmartAsset’s free matching tool, which can pair you with up to three financial advisors in just a few minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/valentinrussanov

Patrick Villanova Patrick Villanova is a writer for SmartAsset, covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and investing. Before joining SmartAsset, Patrick worked as an editor at The Jersey Journal. His work has also appeared on NJ.com and in The Star-Ledger. Patrick is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied English and developed his love of writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, trying out new recipes in the kitchen and watching his beloved New York sports teams. A New Jersey native, he currently lives in Jersey City.
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