As the pandemic accelerated a nationwide trend of residents fleeing larger metro areas in search of affordability and a better quality of life, many chose to relocate to Idaho in 2020, according to a recent study by a national moving company.

United Van Lines named Idaho the top moving destination in 2020 in its National Movers Study, which tracks and ranks inbound and outbound relocation data.

Idaho had the greatest percentage — 70% — of in-migration nationwide last year, followed by South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Arizona.

United customers indicated they moved to Idaho primarily for a lifestyle change and for the state’s lower cost of living.

Coeur d’Alene Realtors Association President Josh Suhr said United Van Lines’ survey results mirror what’s occurring in Kootenai County’s housing market.

“It definitely tracks with our data and boots on the ground here,” Suhr said. “We can’t keep houses on the market. There’s so many people moving to the area.”

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Kootenai County had 147 listings on the market as of Dec. 7, according to the Coeur d’Alene Multiple Listing Service.

People are primarily moving from California, Seattle and Oregon to Kootenai County because of its proximity to lakes and ski resorts, Suhr said.

“Our (real estate) market has really taken off in the last few years,” he said. “A lot of what has affected it is the ability for people to work from home.”

Recent in-migration to Kootenai County also has been driven by coronavirus-related restrictions occurring in other states, Suhr said.

Washington ranked 18th for in-migration with 54% of its interstate moves involving people coming into the state, according to the study.

Out of 25 metro areas nationwide, Boise ranked third for in-migration, while Seattle ranked 19th. Coeur d’Alene and Spokane were not listed in the study.

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United Van Lines also surveyed customers about their reasons for deciding to relocate. The COVID-19 pandemic factored into and accelerated many of those decisions to move in 2020, the company said.

The top reasons for coronavirus-related relocations were concerns for health and well-being (60%); desire to live closer to family (59%); and changes in employment (57%). More than 53% of residents surveyed desired a lifestyle change.

“Each year, our United Van Lines study provides critical insights into broader migration patterns and Americans’ moving motivations,” Eily Cummings, United Van Lines spokesperson, said in a statement.

” United Van Lines’ data-driven insights uniquely point to national trends and, this year particularly, the resounding impact of COVID-19 on moving choices and the moving industry,” she said.