Should we sound the alarms that nearly a third of Floridians think fondly of moving to another state?
The number (31 percent) seems appallingly high — until you look at how many states boast even higher percentages of residents aching to head elsewhere in the country.
A 50-state Gallup poll measured residents' interest in moving out of state by asking:
Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?
It seems a boatload of Americans still believe the grass is greener just beyond their own state's borders. Nowhere is the desire to move more widespread than in Illinois and Connecticut, two tax-laden states where about half of residents say they would move to a different state if given the chance.
On the flip side, the odd trio of Montana, Hawaii, and Maine recorded just 23 percent of their residents with wanderlust, the lowest among U.S. states.
Florida ranked 31st highest among states. The Sunshine State fell slightly below the national average of 33 percent of residents saying they are motivated to move.
Those who say it is at least somewhat likely they will move were asked why. Said Gallup: "The biggest factor residents give for planning to move is for work or business reasons — the 50-state average is 31 percent. This is followed by family or other social reasons (19 percent), weather or location (11 percent), and then seeking a better quality of life or change (9 percent)."
There are lessons lurking here for Florida leaders.
Most, but not all, of the states with high percentages of residents eager to move are expensive places to live. That suggests Florida's lack of state income tax should be a compelling reason to attract expatriates of high-tax states.
In pricey New Jersey, for example, 41 percent of residents expressed interest in moving. That underpins recent decisions by car rental giant Hertz to move its headquarters from there to Florida and for drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb to downsize in New Jersey while opening a new "capability center" this year in Tampa.
Many of the states with populations more prone to move are northern states with tough winters and high heating bills. That's another plug for Florida's warmer climate.
Other states whose residents are more eager to depart are Mississippi and Louisiana. They rank first and second, respectively, in poverty rates.
A third of the states ranked below Florida with lower percentages of residents contemplating moving vans.
What makes those states more satisfying than Florida?
That's a complex question. Florida is a prime destination of a vast nomadic migration of folks who come to "start over" or — think baby boomers — to retire. Clearly it takes time and involvement after a move to any state before new residents can swap ambivalence for pride and a desire to stick around.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]