'We are coming to stay'

Matt and Tracey Waddell moved their family, Autumn (from left), Skye and Meadow to James Island, relocating there after years of living in Atlanta and New York. They felt Charleston was a better place to raise their family.

Matt Waddell came to Charleston from Atlanta for construction work nearly two years ago. Last year, he and his wife bought a house on James Island and moved in with their three children.

"We absolutely fell in love with Charleston," said Waddell, a project executive with DPR/Hardin construction firm of Atlanta, which is building the Midtown project in downtown Charleston. "This is a great town because there are so many things to do here."

The Waddells are part of a wave of newcomers to the Palmetto State, now the second-most-popular destination for movers in the United States, according to United Van Lines' annual Movers Study for 2014.

Only Oregon in the Pacific Northwest saw more inbound moves as a percentage of all shipments. North Carolina came in third.

The study showed that 61 percent of nearly 4,100 moves in South Carolina last year were inbound and that 36 percent of those were retirees.

Of those, Charleston saw 416 shipments or moves into the area while 176 left, according to Melissa Sullivan with Unigroup Inc., parent company of United Van Lines.

The Northeast continued to lose residents as Connecticut, New Jersey and New York all saw more moves outbound than inbound, according to the study.

Coincidentally, Waddell and his wife, Tracey, left New York 18 years ago to move south.

They now prefer Charleston's small-town vibe.

"It feels like - and I'm not knocking Atlanta because I love it, too, - Charleston is a better place to raise our kids," Waddell said. "It seems to have a healthier lifestyle."

When the Midtown project is finished, Waddell expects to stay put, working on other projects for the construction firm in the area or in Savannah.

"We are coming to stay, to put down some roots," he said.

The Waddells didn't use United Van Lines for the move. They used Atlas, so their numbers aren't included in the United Van Lines survey.

United Van Lines has been tracking the number of inbound and outbound moves in the U.S. for nearly four decades, and last year surveyed its customers to determine why they were relocating.

"With economic stability growing nationally, the current migration patterns reflect longer-term trends of movement to the Southern and Western states, especially to those 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, an economist and chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

According to the latest Census Bureau report, from the beginning of July 2013 to July 2014 the Palmetto State's population grew by 60,533 - a larger gain than all but eight other states. South Carolina now ranks as the 24th most populous state in the nation with 4,832,482 residents.

Here are the percentages of moving shipments into these states, according to United Van Lines:

Moving in: Top inbound states in 2014

1. Oregon66.4%
2. South Carolina61.4%
3. North Carolina60.5%
4. Vermont59.4%
5. Florida58.9%
6. Nevada57.3%
7. Texas57.0%
8. Dist. of Columbia56.8%
9. Oklahoma56.6%
10. Idaho55.5%

Moving out: Top outbound states in 2014

1. New Jersey35.1%
2. New York35.9%
3. Illinois36.6%
4. North Dakota39.5%
5. West Virginia39.9%
6. Ohio41.0%
7. Kansas41.8%
8. New Mexico42.6%
9. Pennsylvania43.2%
10. Connecticut43.3%


Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.