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Tucson is a place of migration, the meeting of Frontera and Frontier. The long-term ratio of in- to out-migration varies from 4:3 to 3:2. When the economy wains, in- and out-migration are nearly the same. This may be seen below with data from 2007-2008.

Leading states of origin are Arizona, California, Foreign/APO/FPO (military addressing), New Mexico, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, and Washington. Half of our newcomers arrive during the summer. Newly retired migrants have more education and higher incomes than do current residents. Numerically, Phoenix leads as a source of in-migrants, Cochise County is second, San Diego is third and Los Angeles is fourth.

From Tucson, people migrate most frequently to Phoenix and the surrounding counties of Pinal, Cochise and Santa Cruz. We export people to surrounding states, Texas, Washington, and the Midwest. Net migration is marked by college and military-age persons and those inexorably approaching their prime. 

Over 80 percent of renters have been in their present unit less than 18 months. The average Tucsonan moves every 3.5 years; nationally, we move every 5.2 years. At the time of Census 2000, over a quarter of Tucson area households had been in their present home for less than 15 months. Another third had been in their present home from 15 months to five years. Only 26 percent of metro households had been in their present home more than 10 years.

Data on out-of-state surrendered driver's licenses allow us to draw a picture of the sources of state-level migration to Arizona. Numerically, leading states are California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, New York, New Mexico and Nevada. However, if one adjusts these registrations for the population of the donor state, then a different picture arises. Using this method (a capture rate) we note that less populous western states lead the pack. Although California is the standout donor state, we receive relatively fewer cars from there when we adjust for its large population.  

In 2002, the top-ranked states of birth for Arizona residents were:

Arizona – 34.68%
New York – 3.43%
Foreign born – 12.80%
Texas – 2.57%
California – 7.94%
Ohio – 2.55%
Illinois – 4.36%
Michigan – 2.48%

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