By John Rees

With the holiday season upon us, millions of Americans will soon be boarding planes, trains, and automobiles to visit family and friends. According to AAA, this year more than 46 million individuals will travel at least 50 miles or more to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Given the vast differences in migration levels among major metropolitan areas, some regions will generate high levels of travel activity. In some communities, native residents – those that were born there – represent a small share of the local population. For example, in Las Vegas, more than 75% of residents were born outside of Nevada. Data from the American Community Survey tells us how many people in a metro were born out of state (out-of-metro data is not available). According to our analysis of the Census data, newcomers from out-of-state represent a majority of the population in 16 metropolitan areas.

Most regions with high levels of in-migrants are located in traditionally growing regions in the Southeast, California, and Northwest. Florida alone is home to 4 major metropolitan areas in which transplants represent a majority of the population—Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville. In both Seattle and Portland, migrants are also a majority of the regional population.


Only two of the top 20 metros for transplants are located within the interior of the US. In Denver, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, nearly 56% of residents were born outside of Colorado. Many bi-state metros such as Portland, Washington DC, Charlotte, and Kansas City have high cross-state migration numbers. Exceptions include former industrial titans such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

Even you don’t live in a region with high migration rates, you’re likely to run into a number of individuals from out of state this Thanksgiving—more than 40% of people in the US were born outside their current state of residence.