Having lived in some of the bluest states in the union, it is no mystery to me why people would like to leave them. Property taxes, housing prices, traffic and a host of other things were behind my family's decision to move to a different part of the country. I was looking forward to moving to a place that provided more personal freedom and making a deliberate choice to live somewhere that aligned more with my own ideals.
It seems like a trend is emerging that many are moving to escape the economic shackles of high tax, high cost of living states. According to United Van Lines people are leaving these states at the highest rate:
- New Jersey
- New York
Much is made of the top 4 being very deep blue states, but the rest is a mix of red and purple. It's also the same with the states people are moving to according to United:
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
Another mix of red, purple and blue. So is it purely a red state versus blue state phenomenon? Or is there more to the picture? Every four years The Cato Institute does an in-depth analysis of 230 policies that are indicative of personal and economic freedom for each of the 50 states.
It is somewhat counterintuitive. For example Mississippi is one of the 26 Republican state government trifectas. Yet their Cato Freedom score is 36 out of 50, with 50 being the worst. New Hampshire, another Republican trifecta, has the best score in the nation. So not all red states are created equal. In fact, Ohio, a Republican trifecta since 2010, has a score of 35. While Colorado, a Democratic trifecta until 2014, has a freedom score of 10.
When you look at the indicators of economic and personal freedom, some of the migration patterns start to make a lot more sense. The states people are leaving generally have lower fredom scores than the states people are moving to. Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Kentucky are all in the bottom ten on the freedom scale. Ohio, Massachusetts and Wisconsin score at 35, 33 and 27 respectively. The outliers are Kansas and Utah who score at 16 and 20.
All of the destination states score at 23 or better on the scale with the exception of Vermont, Oregon and Washington. However, if you understand where those states in-migration comes from, largely New York and California, it makes sense. California and New York are 49 and 50 on the list. If you move to place at 40 or better, it feels like you have a lot more freedom.
Having lived in 49 and 50 with a dose of 44, I'll take 22 any day of the week. And if states want to attract people, work on economic freedom, since it breeds business and innovation. For all of you leaving the bottom 10, remember, you did it for a reason. Don't come to number 22 and vote for all the stupid, freedom limiting policies that made you leave that last place. Or pretty soon, you won't have anywhere to go.