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Rapid City officials people move to the state after first being tourists. 

Many more people are moving to South Dakota than leaving it.

That’s according to the 41st annual United Van Lines National Movers Study which ranked South Dakota fifth among the top 10 states with inbound migration.

United tracked 416 moves in South Dakota with 252 (60 percent) of those by people coming into the state.

South Dakota trails Vermont, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada, with Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Alabama rounding out the top 10.

Julie Schmitz Jensen believes the desire to move to South Dakota starts with the favorable impression the state makes on those coming here for the first time.

“It all starts with a visit,” said Jensen, executive director of Visit Rapid City, formerly the Rapid City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“They look at the beauty and the economy, and they say 'This is a great place to live,'” Jensen said.

The state’s natural beauty and steadfast economy aside, people are moving to South Dakota for any number of reasons.

Whether they see the state as a good place to retire, continue a career or if they are moving here because of the lifestyle or to be closer to family, the Mount Rushmore state continues to see an influx of new residents.

According to a release from United Van Lines, this year’s survey continues a recent trend of people leaving the Northeast and Midwest and moving to the Mountain and Pacific West.

States showing the greatest outbound migration are Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky, Utah, and Wisconsin.

South Dakota is surrounded by states seeing neutral activity, meaning roughly the same number of people are moving into the state as are leaving, according to the United survey, which tracks its customers’ state-to-state migration patterns over the past year.

Employment is the biggest impetus for moves to and from South Dakota, with 78 percent of those leaving and 65 percent of those coming in listing jobs as the reason for the move.

Ben Snow, president of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, said the state’s strong tourism industry brings people to the state, with visitors taking note of the strong economic climate from growth, especially in the state’s largest cities Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

“The tourism window has given us some earned exposure to people who are deciding to move here, even though it hasn’t been a conscious effort by us to market to them,” Snow said.

Seeing the greatest influx into the state were those age 65 and older (24.2 percent) and those age 18-34 (27.3 percent), while 34.6 percent of those leaving the state were age 18-34, with 23 percent of those age 55-64 choosing to pull up stakes.

“This year’s data reflects longer-term trends of movement to the western and southern states, especially to those states where housing costs are relatively lower, climates are more temperate and job growth has been at or above the national average, among other factors,” said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We’re also seeing continued migration to the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West as young professionals and retirees leave California,” Stoll said.

The Northeast continues to experience a moving deficit with New Jersey (63 percent outbound), New York (61 percent) and Connecticut (57 percent) making the list of top outbound states for the third consecutive year. Massachusetts (56 percent) also joined the top outbound list this year.

Rapid City mayor Steve Allender said the state’s residents deserve much of the credit for enticing others to move here.

“We have the friendliest people here,” Allender said.

“If we can maintain who we are, we’re a great place to go for living,” he said. “You can’t beat the quality of life here.”

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