Republican-led states, including North Carolina, are among the most popular destinations for relocation for Generation Z and Millennials, according to a recent analysis of U.S. Census data. With lower than average housing costs and a state budget surplus, the state is among few seeing a net increase of residents.

For Gen Z migration, the top two destinations—Connecticut and Washington, D.C.—are controlled by Democrats. But North Carolina is No. 3 on the list, followed by Texas. The remaining states in order are Pennsylvania, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, North Dakota, and Alabama.

Gen Z is those born between 1997 and 2013.

“North Carolina is one of the country’s best states for net migration overall, and a place that attracts plenty of young people,” said Maria Gatea, real estate writer for StorageCafe, the study's authors. “The state’s GenZ population increased by over 11K persons in 2022, banking on an affordable cost of living, numerous opportunities for postgraduate education and access to a dynamic job market.”

For Millennials, Republican-led states are even more popular: Seven of the top 10 are Republican-led. Ranked in order, Texas comes in at the No. 1 spot followed by Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, Washington State, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas.

Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996.

“The search for new horizons has led about 17K millennials — based on net population gains — to the beautiful state of North Carolina in 2022,” said Gatea. “In the context of rising living costs, the Tar Heel State is shaping up to be a haven of affordability, besides boasting a diverse economy that’s supported by the state’s tech hubs such as the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle and Charlotte.”

cost of living drives migration

According to the Census data, North Carolina saw a net influx of nearly 79,000 people in 2022; 30,000 of them were from Virginia or Florida and nearly half of them became homeowners within the first year of living here. North Carolina's median home value fluctuates, but the census reports it at $277,000, below the national average of $319,000.

By comparison, Californians are struggling with the state's median home value of $713,000, driving historic levels of outmigration from the state and wreaking havoc on California's bottom line. Gov. Gavin Newsom reported this week that the state has a $44.9 billion budget deficit. Two years ago during massive federal infusions from the pandemic, California reported a $97 billion surplus.

"That’s an enormous amount of money that Newsom thought the state would be receiving but didn’t – a phantom surplus that fueled unsustainable spending," reported California columnist Dan Walters.

North Carolina's entire state budget is $29 billion. Spending by the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly has remained in check over the last decade, even during federal pandemic spending. The state enjoys an estimated billion-dollar budget surplus going into this spring's short legislative session. However, calls to increase spending are growing among Democrats in the state legislature and Gov. Roy Cooper.

So what does this mean for NC?

According to Carolina Demography, younger residents tend to register unaffiliated with the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Approximately 46% of North Carolina voters between the ages of 18-34 are registered unaffiliated, compared to 39% of voters ages 35-54, and fewer than 30% of voters over age 55. Also, according to the May Carolina Journal poll of likely voters, 68% of North Carolina's 18 to 34-year-olds believe the country is on the wrong track, similar to 67% among 35 to 49-year-olds.

The CJ poll also shows that those younger North Carolina voters, aged 18-34, are less likely to approve of President Joe Biden's job performance, and slightly more likely to vote for the generic Republican in this fall's congressional ballot than voters who are between 35-49 years old. Still, they are not as likely to disapprove of Biden or vote for the generic Republican as North Carolinians over age 50.

Find the results and crosstabs on CJ's poll here.