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Austin moves onto list of top growth cities in the U.S. for 2021

Austin moves onto list of top growth cities in the U.S. for 2021

U-Haul customers are Austin-bound. U-Haul International/Instagram

By at least one measure, Austin was a powerful magnet in 2021 for new residents.

The recently released U-Haul Growth Index puts Austin at No. 16 among the U.S. cities last year with the most inbound moves via U-Haul trucks. Kissimmee-St. Cloud, Florida, near Orlando, grabs the No. 1 spot.

The number of customers coming to Austin in one-way U-Haul trucks rose nearly 22 percent last year compared with 2020, while one-way departures rose 18 percent from 2020. Arriving customers accounted for 50.4 percent of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Austin during 2021. 

Austin did not appear in U-Haul’s top 25 last year or in the pre-pandemic year of 2019. But it did hold the No. 2 spot on U-Haul’s list for 2016.

Aside from Austin, four other Texas locales make U-Haul’s top 25 for 2021:

  • No. 7: Bryan-College Station
  • No. 15: Grapevine
  • No. 22: Richardson
  • No. 25: Carrollton

As such, Texas destinations represented one-fifth of U-Haul’s top 25. In fact, Texas leads U-Haul’s list of the top growth states in 2021, based on moving activity. 

Texas topped the U-Haul rankings in 2016, 2017, and 2018, but sat at No. 2 behind Florida in 2019 and at No. 2 behind Tennessee in 2020.

“The Texas economy is growing fast,” Kristina Ramos, president of U-Haul Co. of South Austin, says in a news release. “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.”

Across Texas, arrivals of one-way U-Haul trucks jumped 19 percent in 2021 compared with the previous year, while departures rose 18 percent over 2020. Arrivals made up 50.2 percent of all one-way U-Haul traffic last year in Texas.

U-Haul points out that while its migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the U-Haul Growth Index is an “effective gauge” of how well cities are doing at attracting and keeping residents.

Matt Merrill, U-Haul’s district vice president for Dallas Fort-Worth and West Texas, says many of Texas’ inbound movers are coming from the East and West coasts, particularly California and New York.

“We also see a lot of people coming in from the Chicago markets,” Merrill says. “I think that’s a lot due to the job growth — a lot of opportunity here. The cost of living here is much lower than those areas. Texas is open for business.”