Top Destinations — and Departures — for Men and Women After a Divorce

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Updated on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Divorce, which can be a seismic life shift, often leads to a separation of finances and one party moving to a new home. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 26% of women and 23% of men moved into a new home the same year they got divorced.

Some even moved out of state, perhaps for new career opportunities or proximity to support systems. MagnifyMoney researchers used the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to analyze the number of men and women who were divorced in the 12 months prior to the survey and who moved in that same period. The figures vary quite a bit by state, so here’s what we learned.

Key findings

  • Divorced men and women are equally likely (4%) to move to a new state, while about 0.5% move to the U.S. from another country.
  • Florida is the top destination for newly divorced men, with an estimated 2,581 heading there within 12 months of their divorce. California and North Carolina are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
  • Texas is the most popular destination for newly divorced women, with an estimated 4,828 heading there. Florida and Georgia are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
  • An estimated 43% of men living in Alaska when they were divorced left for another state within the year. The same was true for 40% of newly divorced men in the District of Columbia and 23% in Montana.
  • An estimated 10% of women living in either Rhode Island, the District of Columbia or Alaska when they were divorced left the state within a year.

Newly divorced men head to Florida, California and North Carolina

An estimated 2,581 newly divorced men moved to Florida in the same 12-month period as getting divorced — the largest number in the U.S., according to our estimates. For analysis, we looked at the states where men were headed — as well as where they were leaving.

Three of the five most popular destinations for divorced men were also popular states to leave within a year of divorce:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Texas

The three states had more who were recently divorced leave than come during the time frame we examined, even amid substantial population increases over the past decade.

Florida, California and Texas each have poverty rates above the national average, which could contribute to a desire to leave for a more affordable living situation — or perhaps to find more lucrative jobs to be able to put more money back into savings.

Virginia had the highest proportion among the top five of divorced men moving to the state (compared to those who already lived there) at 8%. North Carolina was second, with 6% opting for that kind of fresh start.

Of course, the reasons someone who is divorced might — or might not — move to a new state can vary, including:

  • Lifestyle
  • Job opportunities
  • Desire for change
  • Custody agreement

And moving, much like divorce, can have a big impact on your finances, as the process will lead to some division of marital assets and debts.

“One spouse may lose more savings than he or she had expected,” said Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts. “Those savings may be important as you deal with new expenses such as rent or child support. Moving into a new house or apartment is one of many things that can strain your budget after a divorce.”

Newly divorced women head to Texas, Florida and Georgia

According to our findings, an estimated 4,828 newly divorced women moved to Texas in the same 12-month period as getting divorced — topping our list. Similar to men, we looked at the states where women were headed, as well as where they were leaving.

Similar to men, Texas, Florida and California each land in the top five states for divorced women to move to, while also having a large number of divorced women leaving those states. Though in this case, only California has a higher number of divorced women leaving the state than moving there.

Among the top three states for women — Texas, Florida and Georgia — 5% of newly divorced women moved to the state, while the rest were already residents at the time of their divorce.

Virginia had the highest proportion among the top five of newly divorced women moving to the state at 6%, while California had the lowest at 2%. Both Virginia and California have median household incomes at least $10,000 above the national average, which could make it easier to save money amid your divorce.

Interestingly, it seems that Texas and Florida have a similar appeal for divorced women, as the most common state of origin for those relocating from either state is the other. And like Texas, those relocating to Georgia are also most likely to be coming from the Sunshine State.

37% of newly divorced men in Alaska moved to state within 12-month period of divorce

To get a more realistic understanding of people leaving each state, we looked at both the raw numbers and percentages. Numbers were limited in smaller states, obviously.

Among our findings: 37% of the newly divorced men in Alaska moved to the state within the 12-month period of their divorce. The state has a lot of movement, though, as 43% of men living in the state when they were divorced left for another state within the year.

Alaska’s popularity among divorced men is perhaps surprising, given the fact that the state overall has only seen a 3% population increase between 2010 and 2019. Though, if we’re focusing on fresh starts, one could say it doesn’t get any fresher than moving to Alaska, but those who are recently divorced should be patient and make sure to avoid buyer’s remorse.

By contrast, the District of Columbia’s population has increased by 17% during the same time frame — yet an even higher proportion of divorced men left than those who moved there during their divorce year.

Clearly, some divorced men are finding merit in moving to these two locations — even as more of those who already lived there are leaving it behind. However, D.C. offers a potential earnings bump, as the median household income is $86,420 — more than $20,000 above the national average.

14% of newly divorced women in Wyoming moved to state within 12-month period of divorce

A significant 14% of the newly divorced women in the Cowboy State moved there within the 12-month period of their divorce.

The high percentage of divorced women moving to Wyoming is significant given the fact that the state itself has only seen a 3% population increase over the past decade (compared with Idaho, second on our list, which has seen a 14% population increase).

Meanwhile, Idaho has a median household income below the national average, while Wyoming is slightly higher.

According to rankings website HomeSnacks, singles in Wyoming should consider Laramie and Cheyenne, while singles in Idaho should consider Rexburg and Moscow.

4 ways to save money after a divorce

  • Separate your checking and savings accounts: One of the most important parts of divorce is separating your assets, which includes your savings accounts, checking accounts and more. While it may seem intimidating, it can provide an opportunity to find the best savings accounts for your financial needs.
  • Find the best online bank for you: “Since your budget after a divorce may be tight, look to online banks that offer checking and savings accounts that will help you save,” Tumin said. The best online banks make it easier to avoid fees and will earn higher interest rates on savings. Some offer automatic savings tools, too.
  • Set up autopay: Saving money is more difficult when you have to manually transfer the money each month. It can even be painful when you’re on a tight budget. By automating the transfers a day or so after your paycheck hits your account, you can avoid that pain and be more consistent.
  • Track everything: Getting divorced means having to learn a new lifestyle, so it’s important to understand what you’re working with. “Developing and tracking a budget during this time can help you manage dealing with the changes in expenses and income that occur after a divorce,” Tumin said. Once you have an idea of your finances, you can see where to cut back — and where to lean in.

Methodology

Analysts used microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (1-year) to estimate the number of men and women who reported that:

  • They were divorced in the 12-month period preceding the survey and
  • They had moved in that 12-month period (or the prior 12-month period)

We also estimated the number of men and women who reported that they’d moved to another state or another country in the 12-month period preceding the survey. State migration data was aggregated at the state level, either at the state of origin or of the current residence.