People are fleeing from New Jersey more than any other state—here's the No. 1 reason why

Traffic is at a near standstill heading into New York City via the Holland Tunnel from New Jersey.
Andria Patino | Corbis Documentary | Getty Images

New Jersey became the No. 1 state to move away from in 2018, according to new data from moving and relocation company United Vans Lines.

The top reason why residents left was for a professional opportunity, the UVL data shows. Of all the residents who moved out, 46 percent listed "job" as the deciding factor.

"A leading motivation behind these migration patterns across all regions," in fact, "is a career change," the report says. About "one out of every two people who moved in the past year moved for a new job or company transfer."

The second most compelling reason to relocate, according to the respondents, was retirement, as 24 percent said they preferred to spend their golden years elsewhere. A similar share, 22 percent, said they wanted to be closer to family, while 17 percent listed "lifestyle change" as their reason for moving and 5 percent said "health."

In the map below, the yellow states are "high outbound" states, whereas the dark blue ones are "high inbound."

Still, some people from other parts of the country did move into New Jersey: Of the total moves related to the state, 67 percent were outbound and 33 percent were inbound.

There seems to be a larger trend of residents leaving the Northeast, with the notable exception of Vermont: Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts ranked in the top 10 states where most residents moved out.

"The data aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates," Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, says in the report.

How much more it costs to own vs. rent in your state
How much more it costs to own vs. rent in your state

There could also be another reason behind the migration: taxes. While "job opportunities, family considerations and lifestyle preferences are among the primary factors driving a decision to move out-of-state, tax considerations can certainly be a make-it or break-it factor," according to a report from the right-leaning Tax Foundation.

For example, "an individual weighing a decision to relocate among one of several states might be inclined to choose a state with a relatively lower tax burden."

New Jersey is the ninth most tax-burdened state in the country, according to data from financial website WalletHub. Connecticut is the sixth most-taxed state and New York is No. 1.

In fact, five of the 10 worst-performing states on the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index — which evaluates states on the competitiveness of their tax rates and structures — are also among the 10 states with the most outbound migration in the UVL report.

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This 30-year-old commutes 4 hours and 140 miles for work in San Francisco every day

While high taxes could be prompting some residents to make a change, a study published in the journal Social Science Research recently found that Americans who live in states that spend tax dollars on public goods like libraries and parks report greater levels of happiness overall.

Regardless, it's not possible to determine whether taxes are driving residents away by looking at the UVL data, since UVL doesn't ask about taxes, specifically, or even money more generally. "Cost of living is not data we currently pull in our survey," United Van Lines director of corporate communications Eily Cummings, tells CNBC Make It.

Still, Cummings says, it makes sense that many residents flee New Jersey because of its exorbitant living expenses. And the state does rank among the top 10 most expensive in America based on the costs of everything from housing to health care.

No matter where you're located, living within your means and employing some common-sense budgeting tactics can help you better manage your money. If you're looking to move out-of-state or are in the market for a new apartment or house, check out these budget hacks and ways to save.

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