In any given year, about 8.5 million people move from one metropolitan area to another within the United States — from the Washington, D.C., region up to New York, or from New York to Philadelphia and farther away. These major moves — distinct from the kind you make across town, or even from the city to the suburbs — make up a relatively small share of all migration. Only about one in five movers today decamps for another metro area entirely.

But these moves are where the metro bragging rights lie. Think New York is so much better than Washington? Then why do more than 16,000 New Yorkers move down here every year? (That is, ahem, about 0.08 percent of the metro New York population!)

In the table below, based on new five-year American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau, we've plotted annual migration totals among the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. New Yorkers — another 27,000 of them — also flock to Philadelphia each year. And, more surprisingly, 22,000 New Yorkers head to Miami, an unusually large migration for two metros 1,300 miles apart.


It looks like a lot of people are leaving New York — more, in fact, than move there from these other cities. But the population New York starts with is larger, too (so, relative to metropolitan Philadelphia's size, more people still move from Philly to New York than the other way around).

You can get a sense in this table of how regional proximity plays a big role in metro migration trends. More than 13,000 people head from Dallas to Houston each year, with a similar amount moving in the opposite direction. But the two Texas cities don't see much in the way of migration to and from the other major metro areas in the chart, and they stand apart for sending particularly few people to New York.

You can also see metro pairs where in-migration and out-migration aren't balanced. For instance, the Atlanta and Miami metro areas are roughly the same size, population-wise. But significantly more people move from Miami to Atlanta (7,641) than from Atlanta to Miami (4,965).

People from Chicago and Los Angeles, meanwhile, seem particularly uninterested in Philadelphia.