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Largest U.S. States by Population and Why You Should Move There

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Want a change of scenery, but don’t know where you want to go for your next move? If you want to know what states are attracting the most number of residents, take a look at the 10 most populous states in the U.S. We’ve taken a deep dive into what makes these states so attractive to residents, so you can decide where to start your next big adventure.

U.S. states with the highest population

1. California

Population: 39,512,223

Percent change since the 2010 census: 6.1%

Why you should move to California: 

If you’re looking to settle down in a climate that is fairly consistent year-round, several cities in California were ranked The Best Places to Live in the U.S. Based on Weather by U.S. News & World Report. Those cities include Santa Barbara, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. Kids and kids at heart will love spending a day at Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Legoland. Venture out to wine country to sample some of Napa Valley and Calistoga’s finest vintages. With 10% of Fortune 1000 companies based in California, the range of employment options abound. You can find job opportunities in agriculture, film, manufacturing, and business services.

Just know, California’s cost of living comes in high at 151.7 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Sacramento

Major cities in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno

Median household income: $71,228

Median per capita income: $35,021

Median home list price statewide: $533,000

Note: The median home value ranges extensively based upon your sunny California ZIP Code™. While San Francisco’s median list price is a sizable $1.31 million, Fresno comes in considerably lower at $292,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $2,657/mo.

What you might not know about California: Over 2,000 years in age, the magnificent General Sherman Tree stands at 275 feet in height and is the world’s largest tree by volume.

 2. Texas     

Population: 28,995,881

Percent change since the 2010 census: 15.3%

Why you should move to Texas: 

With an impressive 254 counties, Texas has a lot of ground to cover. Home to the Alamo in San Antonio, nesting sea turtles on Padre Island, and the infamous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo — this state is full of diversity, flavor, and personality. The Tex-Mex food isn’t the only thing heating up the locals, as Texas summers are known to bring high temperatures. There is also a wealth of employment opportunities in Texas, including the popular sectors of biotechnology, aerospace, and manufacturing.

Texas ranks 91.5 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Austin

Major cities in Texas: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, Houston, and San Antonio

Median household income: $59,570

Median per capita income: $30,143

Median home list price statewide: $274,000

Note: Move into your forever home in El Paso, the most affordable city in Texas, with a median list price of $188,000. Plano comes in a bit higher, with a median of $378,000

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,575/mo.

What you might not know about Texas: Dr. Pepper, the popular carbonated soft drink, was invented in Waco, Texas, in 1885.

3. Florida

Population: 21,477,737

Percent change since the 2010 census: 14.2%

Why you should move to Florida: 

Known as the Sunshine State, Florida’s weather doesn’t disappoint. Residents take advantage of the breathtaking beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. There’s plenty of amusement park fun to be had at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Bonus: Florida residents receive discount tickets. Top employment industries include hospitality, health care, and construction.

Florida ranks 97.9 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Tallahassee

Major cities in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Tallahassee, West Palm Beach, and Jacksonville

Median household income: $53,267

Median per capita income: $30,197

Median home list price statewide: $299,000

Note: The most expensive city to reside in is Naples, with a median list price of $419,000. Pensacola comes in close to 50% less than Naples, with $235,000 as the median price point.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,780/mo.

What you might not know about Florida: Love your cup of morning OJ? More than 90% of the orange juice consumed in the U.S. comes from oranges grown in Florida.

4. New York

Population: 19,453,561

Percent change since the 2010 census: 0.4%

Why you should move to New York: 

When it comes to New York, many people think of a bustling Times Square and the bright lights of Broadway. However, once out of New York City, you’ll discover the serene mountains of the Adirondacks, the powerful beauty of Niagara Falls, and the white sand beaches of Long Island. The weather in Upstate New York differs drastically from the New York City region. Upstate New York often sees snow well into April. There is a wide employment arena in New York State, with an emphasis on construction and transportation, information services, and financial industries.

New York ranks 139.1 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Albany

Major cities in New York: New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Syracuse, and Albany

Median household income: $65,323

Median per capita income: $37,470

Median home list price statewide: $429,000

Note: New York City, unsurprisingly, is priced at the highest median list price at $760,000. For a more affordable locale, Syracuse offers the lowest median list priced homes at $74,900.

Median monthly rent statewide: $2,387/mo.

What you might not know about New York: Between 1785 to 1790, the capital of the United States was New York City. Visit Federal Hall on Wall Street for a sighting of founding father George Washington’s bronze statue.

5. Pennsylvania       

Population: 12,801,989

Percent change since the 2010 census: 0.8%

Why you should move to Pennsylvania: 

Pennsylvania is rich in history, outdoor adventures, and culture. The city of Philadelphia, known as Philly to locals, is the birthplace of the United States and home to the Liberty Bell. The Pocono Mountains offer year-round outdoor fun, with skiing in the winter, beautiful foliage in the fall, and camping and fishing in warmer weather. No matter where you choose to reside in Pennsylvania, you will enjoy all four seasons in this Northeastern state. Top industries in the Keystone State include tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Pennsylvania comes in at 101.7 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Harrisburg

Major cities in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, and Reading

Median household income: $59,445

Median per capita income: $32,889

Median home list price statewide: $210,000

Note: At $490,000, West Chester’s median list price is highest in the state, while Reading comes in at an economical median list price of $78,700.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,349

What you might not know about Pennsylvania: America’s oldest brewery is located in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Yuengling Brewery has been brewing beer since 1829.

6. Illinois

Population: 12,671,821

Percent change since the 2010 census: -1.2%

Why you should move to Illinois: 

From Chicago’s delectable deep-dish pizza to over 200 craft breweries, Illinois doesn’t disappoint in food and drink. Fresh air is waiting with a plethora of outdoor adventures on the Heritage Corridor. Travel back in time with a cruise down Route 66 in Pontiac or take a horse and buggy ride in Amish Country. Cold weather enthusiasts rejoice as Illinois’s winters can reach sub-zero digits due to lakefront breezes. Top workforce industries in Illinois include advanced manufacturing, food processing, and biotechnology.

Illinois comes in at 94.5 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Springfield

Major cities in Illinois: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, and Springfield

Median household income: $63,575

Median per capita income: $34,463

Median home list price statewide: $229,000

Note: The city of Naperville has the highest median list price of $434,000. The most affordable city is Rockford, with a median list price of $100,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,613/mo.

What you might not know about Illinois: Collinsville, Illinois, is home to the world’s largest catsup (aka ketchup) bottle.

7. Ohio      

Population: 11,689,100

Percent change since the 2010 census: 1.3%

Why you should move to Ohio:

60% of the U.S. population is located within a quick flight or day drive to the Buckeye State. From beautiful beaches along Lake Erie and bustling cities, including Cleveland — home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — to prehistoric caves in Leo, there’s no shortage of excitement around the state. Major employment industries include education, transportation, and service. Have your snow shovel at the ready during the winter months as Ohio’s winters are snowy and frigidly harsh.

Ohio comes in at 90.8 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Columbus

Major cities in Ohio: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron

Median household income: $54,533

Median per capita income: $30,304

Median home list price statewide: $169,000

Note: Dayton is the most affordable city in Ohio, with a median list price of $68,900. The city of Hamilton is the most expensive, with a median list price of $205,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,177/mo.

What you might not know about Ohio: Picnicking just took on a new meaning. The world’s largest basket can be spotted at the Longaberger Basket’s former company headquarters. This seven-story basket will be home to a future hotel.

8. Georgia

Population: 10,617,423

Percent change since the 2010 census: 9.6%

Why you should move to Georgia: 

Known as the Peach State, Georgia is known for its rich agriculture and embracing all that is locally grown. Music runs deep in Georgia. Musicians like Luke Bryan, the Allman Brothers Band, and The B-52s all hail from the Peach State. From waterfalls and canyons to natural springs and wildlife refuges, outdoor adventurists have plenty to explore on and off the trails. Georgia is home to a wide range of high-profile companies in the food and beverage, manufacturing, and chemical industries. This southern state delivers mild winters along with warm summers.

Georgia lands at 89.2 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Atlanta

Major cities in Georgia: Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah

Median household income: $55,679

Median per capita income: $29,523

Median home list price statewide: $260,000

Note: You will find the highest median home list price in Cumming at $378,000. The city of Macon’s median list price is $139,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,434/mo.

What you might not know about Georgia: Aptly named “Hogzilla,” the largest discovered wild hog was found in Alapaha, Georgia — measuring 12 feet long and weighing in at an impressive 1,000 pounds.

9. North Carolina

Population: 10,488,084

Percent change since the 2010 census: 10.0%

Why you should move to North Carolina: 

Packed with mountains, beaches, and bustling cities in between, North Carolina is a wonderful place to call home. The Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains beckon outdoor adventurists to explore the countless hiking trails. Escape the heat of the summer months by cooling off at one of North Carolina’s barrier island beaches. Head inland to the cities of Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Durham for an urban experience filled with delicious dining, quality wineries, and noteworthy golf courses. Employment areas are vast, including options in the furniture, aerospace, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries.

North Carolina comes in at 94.9 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Raleigh

Major cities in North Carolina: Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Fayetteville

Median household income: $52,413

Median per capita income: $29,456

Median home list price statewide: $274,000

Note: Cary’s median list price is highest at $415,000, while the city of Fayetteville is the most affordable, with a median list price of $151,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,332/mo.

What you might not know about North Carolina: Hunting for treasure? North Carolina’s Cabarrus County was the site of America’s first gold rush.

10. Michigan             

Population: 9,986,857

Percent change since the 2010 census: 1.0%

Why you should move to Michigan: 

Michigan has a lot to offer, from relaxing beach towns, including Grand Haven — where you can surf and hang ten — to the adrenaline-pumping dune buggy adventures over the Sand Dunes of Silver Lake’s 2,000 acres. Michigan is home to over 3,200 miles of shoreline and over 11,000 lakes, so putting your toes in the sand is easy. Head to Ann Arbor’s Main Street District for some culinary delights and creative cocktails. Art plays a key role throughout Michigan as well, including the vibrant mural art movement. Weather can vary greatly throughout the seasons. In winter, bundle up, as Michigan’s climate can be harsh during the winter months. Top employment sectors include manufacturing and transportation, hospitality, and education.

Michigan comes in at 88.9 out of 100 in the World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index.

State capital: Lansing

Major cities in Michigan: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Warren

Median household income: $54,938

Median per capita income: $30,336

Median home list price statewide: $175,000

Note: Ann Arbor’s homes are priced highest with a $399,000 median list price. The city of Detroit comes in the lowest, with a median home value of $36,000.

Median monthly rent statewide: $1,262/mo.

What you might not know about Michigan: Michigan’s Lake Superior is so deep (1,330 feet) that only the antenna of New York’s Empire State Building would be visible. The rest of the Empire State Building would be submerged.

The rest of the states by population:

  1. New Jersey — Population: 8,882,190
  2. Virginia — Population: 8,535,519
  3. Washington — Population: 7,614,893
  4. Arizona — Population: 7,278,717
  5. Massachusetts — Population: 6,892,503
  6. Tennessee — Population: 6,829,174
  7. Indiana — Population: 6,723,219
  8. Missouri — Population: 6,137,428
  9. Maryland — Population: 6,045,680
  10. Wisconsin — Population: 5,822,434
  11. Colorado — Population: 5,758,736
  12. Minnesota — Population: 5,639,632
  13. South Carolina — Population: 5,148,714
  14. Alabama — Population: 4,903,185
  15. Louisiana — Population: 4,648,794
  16. Kentucky — Population: 4,467,673
  17. Oregon — Population: 4,217,737
  18. Oklahoma – Population: 3,956,971
  19. Connecticut – Population: 3,565,287
  20. Utah – Population: 3,205,958
  21. Iowa – Population: 3,155,070
  22. Nevada – Population: 3,080,156
  23. Arkansas – Population: 3,017,804
  24. Mississippi — Population: 2,976,149
  25. Kansas —Population: 2,913,314
  26. New Mexico — Population: 2,096,829
  27. Nebraska — Population: 1,934,408
  28. Idaho — Population: 1,787,065
  29. West Virginia — Population: 1,792,147
  30. Hawaii — Population: 1,415,872
  31. New Hampshire — Population: 1,359,711
  32. Maine — Population: 1,344,212
  33. Montana — Population: 1,068,778
  34. Rhode Island — Population: 1,059,361
  35. Delaware — Population: 973,764
  36. South Dakota — Population: 884,659
  37. North Dakota — Population: 762,062
  38. Alaska — Population: 731,545
  39. Vermont — Population: 623,989
  40. Wyoming — Population: 578,759

Methodology: The MYMOVE team has thoroughly researched this comprehensive list of U.S. states by population based upon the 2020 World Population Review and Cost of Living Index. In addition, data was fact checked against the United States Census Bureau’s 2019 data, as it is the most current year of conclusive statistics.


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