When Americans rent moving vehicles, they most often head south, with the Midwest and West getting a smaller share of do-it-yourself movers.
Only the Northeast didn't make it to Penske Truck Rentals' "Top 10 Moving Destinations for 2012." Perhaps Hurricane Sandy gets some of the blame.
Penske doesn't track why Americans move where they do, but a closer look at the list reveals a correlation between do-it-yourself moves and growing housing markets .
"This list fits the general geographic shifts of the country's population with our customers being drawn to the Southeast and Southwest regions," said Don Mikes, Penske Truck Rental's senior vice president of rentals.
Penske based its annual list of top domestic moving destinations on online consumer truck rental reservations and through calls to its call centers , but in both cases, only for one-way rentals in 2012.
In the past three years that Penske has compiled the list, Atlanta, considered the Financial Capital of the South, has topped the list, as the Dallas/Fort Worth area made the jump from fourth to second place.
Four markets (Chicago, Houston, Denver and Seattle) retained their rankings from 2011.
With the previous year's ranking in parentheses, here are Penske Truck Rentals' Top 10 Moving Destinations for 2012:
- Atlanta, GA (1)
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (4)
- Phoenix, AZ (2)
- Orlando, FL (3)
- Chicago, IL (5)
- Houston, TX (6)
- Denver, CO (7)
- Seattle, WA (8)
- Charlotte, NC (10)
- Sarasota, FL (9)
Top move-to towns also home price-growth leaders
Comparing Penske's top towns to those high on home price growth lists, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Seattle were all also on Trulia's "2012 Top 10 Turnaround Housing Markets for Asking Price Recovery" for the year ending in December 2012.
During the period, Phoenix had the nation's largest year over year asking price increase at 26 percent, but Seattle really turned around with a double digit price gain in 2012 of 10.2 percent, after a double-digit decline of 13.8 percent in 2011, according to Trulia.
Also, for the same December-to-December period, Atlanta's price gain came in at 9 percent, according to Trulia.
In Trulia's separate, ongoing Real Estate Guides, Sarasota's median home price really bounced, rising 17.9 percent over the past year.
In a different data set used by the FNC Residential Price Index , top towns for year-over-year (November to November) price index increases included Denver, up 9.7 percent; Dallas, up 5.7 percent; Orlando, up 4.7 percent); Houston and Charlotte, both up 3.7 percent.
Chicago's top move-to ranking has more to do with it being a large, bustling midwestern town with a diverse economy, rather than as a home price leader in today's market.
The Windy City is home to more than 400 major corporate headquarters, including 29 Fortune 500 companies. Among its key economic sectors are risk management innovation, manufacturing, information technology and health services.
Right now residential real estate isn't a big draw.
FNC said for it's November-to-November period, Chicago home prices were down by 0.8 percent. During Trulia's December-to-December period, Trulia reported a larger home-price decline, a 1.1 percent home price dip.