Who moved to Connecticut during COVID? See which counties the wealthiest movers came from in 2020

Photo of Amy Coval

While most Connecticut residents would not be surprised to hear that many of the wealthiest movers into the state came from New York, they may be surprised to hear that many also came from California’s Bay Area.

CT Insider previously reported that Connecticut residents were packing up and moving down to counties in Florida during the pandemic. We used the same IRS migration data for people who moved and filed their 2020 taxes in Connecticut to answer the question: Where did they live in 2019? The other side of this data found that many wealthy Bay Area-residents made their way to the Nutmeg State during the lockdown era of the pandemic, in addition to New Yorkers. 

The wealthiest movers into Connecticut in 2020 came from New York County (home to the borough of Manhattan) and moved to Litchfield County, totaling 652 individuals who made the move. Over $262 million in annual income came to Litchfield County from New York, making the average income of one of those movers to be just over $402,000. The New York to Connecticut narrative may not be surprising for many to hear, as leaving big cities (and specifically Manhattan ) for suburban towns became a common story amid COVID lockdown.  

However, the second wealthiest group of movers came to Fairfield County from Contra Costa county, a county in the Bay Area’s East Bay and home to cities like Walnut Creek, Danville and other suburban areas. Fairfield County saw 74 individuals with an average annual income of $235,400 move to one of its cities from Contra Costa County, totaling over $174 million in income into Connecticut. 

Linda Skolnick, a broker for Coldwell Banker in Westport, said she saw this increase in Bay Area movers within her agency. She says the changes COVID brought about to the work environment gave many Bay Area residents the opportunity to look elsewhere to live.

“There has been a huge move from California in general, but in particular [from the] Bay Area," Skolnick said. “Part of it is that a lot of people in the tech industry don't necessarily need to be there anymore. Their cost of living is so high, and working remotely is an option for them, so they don't have to be in California anymore.”

Skolnick said most of her Bay Area clients were families that found themselves surprised by the amount of land they could get for the prices as well as the quality of schools. She says Bay Area movers were excited they could use the public school system in Connecticut given its strength, as many of those same families would have been enrolling their children in private schools in California. 

The three biggest counties in Connecticut — Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven — all had their wealthiest movers come from a Bay Area county. In addition, of the wealthiest people who moved into Fairfield County, five of the top 10 counties were a Bay Area county, totaling over $90 million in income that moved between those counties into Fairfield County. 

In general, most of the Connecticut counties saw some sort of inflow from surrounding states like New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Skolnick pointed out that while many are moving from these areas into the Nutmeg state, it also helps to explain why Connecticut specifically saw this influx of Northern Californians as well.

"I think that what they are finding is that a lot of our area reminds them of the personality of their community, and reminds them of what they had in California,” Skolnick said. “There is a sense of community, whereas in New Jersey or in Westchester or Long Island, you might go to one town for one thing and another town for something else. A lot of Fairfield County towns are really town-based and have such a family sense, and it's funny when [clients] come here and they say, ‘This reminds me of what it used to be like where we lived.'"