During the pandemic, when many people were able to work from home, the housing market changed. Some experts predicted mass migrations to the suburbs as some people could now choose where to live without that decision having to be tied to their jobs.
While there was some exodus from the “big city,” the general trend of urbanization continues. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the ten-year period between 2010 and 2020, 312 of the 384 U.S. metro areas gained population.
Progressive urbanization has been around for as long as mankind. The Industrial Revolution sparked one of the world’s biggest pushes to city life. In 1800, just 3% of the population lived in geographically centralized areas. By 2008, more than 50% of people globally lived in urban settings.
Urbanization continues today, for many of the same reasons it always has. This list will explain which 10 cities are currently experiencing the fastest growth and what recent trends are pushing their rapid population increase.
Trends that are fueling growth
Since the first cities appeared around 7500 BCE, their growth has fluctuated. Some growth is internal, due to birth rates exceeding death rates. However, a lot of the change in city size is due to migration whenever people discover more favorable sites.
In the U.S. as elsewhere, drawn largely by job prospects – often for better pay – education opportunities, and a centralized market (or, today, access to commerce, resources and travel hubs, such as port cities), people have gravitated away from this country’s largely agricultural roots to live in cities.
While the list shifts from year to year, it’s little surprise that the current top 10 fastest-growing cities are all located in the sunbelt – the 15 continental states below 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude. This area has a history of growth due to weather and affordability, the latter advantage of which has been ebbing away in recent years.
Here are the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. But, there’s more. We added some details about median home prices and life in each city to help you with your decision about selecting your next location.
Top 10 fastest growing cities in the U.S.
1. Frisco, Texas
About: Often ranked one of the safest cities in Texas (and the country), Frisco features family-friendly neighborhoods with affordable housing and good schools, as well as numerous parks for outdoor recreation. As part of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, it offers proximity to everything a big city can offer, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, but retains its small-town welcoming feel. Sometimes called the “City that Plays” because it’s home to several major league sports teams – including the Dallas Cowboys, it was also dubbed Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Growth fueled by: Affordability, a superior education system, and the availability of jobs in diverse fields are driving the city’s growth. Big corporations like FedEx, Toyota, and Keurig Dr Pepper hire lots of employees. In addition, the PGA is building its new headquarters in Frisco, complete with a 500-room hotel, convention center, and championship golf courses, which will provide employment opportunities. Mild winters and no state taxes contribute to the city’s allure.
Median household income: $153,704
Median age: 37.1 years
Median home value: $643,488
Best time to sell a home in Frisco: List in September, sell in December for 5.52% more gain
2. Buckeye, Arizona
About: A western suburb of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Buckeye appeals to outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and campers. Mountains, golf clubs, an aquatic center, the Desert Botanical Garden, several state and national parks, and the Sonoran Desert National Monument are just a few nearby attractions. Despite its rapid growth, it retains a hometown feel. Life is quiet and affordable, with a low crime rate.
Growth fueled by: Year-round warm weather draws the retirement crowd, but growing job opportunities at companies such as Banner Health, American Express, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo interest the working population. In addition, the CANAMEX Corridor, a series of highways linking Canada and Mexico, positions Buckeye as a distribution center, which adds more jobs.
Median household income: $71,707
Median age: 34.3 years
Median home value: $409,275
Best time to sell a home in Buckeye: List in September, sell in December for 7.05% more than the yearly average.
3. Austin, Texas
About: The state’s capital is home to the University of Texas, but is perhaps better known as the Live Music Capital of the World according to their motto, due to its eclectic live music scene featuring country, blues, and rock. Austin also offers many outdoor amenities in the form of lakes and parks conducive to hiking, biking, swimming, and boating, as well as art, culture, and motor racing at the nearby Circuit of the Americas, which has hosted Formula One, IndyCar and other major series.
Growth fueled by: An exodus of Californians and immigrants from India is giving rise to Austin’s diversification. Strong recruitment efforts by tech giants such as Apple, Oracle, Facebook, and Tesla are off-setting rising house prices to attract people to this inland Texas city.
Median household income: $71,576
Median age: 33.3 years
Median home value: $655,862
Best time to sell a home in Austin: List in September, sell in December for 7.35% more than the average.
4. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
About: Raleigh’s laid-back attitude belies its role as the North Carolina state capitol. Nicknamed the City of Oaks, the area features numerous parks, greenway trails, and, of course, oak trees. The bike-friendly home of Duke University and other institutions of higher education, it ranks as one of the most college-educated cities in the U.S. But residents know how to relax and have fun at its many restaurants and breweries. The city’s museums and historic neighborhoods give a nod to its past, while its central east coast location makes travel convenient.
Growth fueled by: Another tech hub, Raleigh-Durham features Research Triangle Park, a technological research park that’s home to more than 200 big-name employers such as IBM, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Nortel Networks, Sony Ericsson, and Lenovo, which together employ more than 50,000 people. The cost of living is less than in other tech towns. The area is also known for its schools and the fact that it has four seasons, although winters are mild.
Median household income: $69,720
Median age: 37.5 years
Median home value: $423,838
Best time to sell a home in Raleigh-Durham: List in August, sell in November for 4.66% more than the yearly average.
5. Orlando, Florida
Population: 22 million
About: Many people are familiar with Orlando’s numerous theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Epcot, and Universal Orlando. But it’s also a nice place to live, thanks to its urban-suburban feel and the many restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and parks it has to offer, as well as the fact that the cost of living is 5% lower than the national average.
Growth fueled by: It’s not all snowbirds. Orlando’s influx of young, educated people from the Midwest and Northeast is powered by a strong job market – particularly in tourism, healthcare, education, finance, real estate, and the airlines – lower cost of living, top-ranked schools, and glorious weather.
Median household income: $51,757
Median age: 33.8 years
Median home value: $345,541
Best time to sell a home in Orlando: List in August, sell in November for 4.1% more than the yearly average.
6. McKinney, Texas
About: An affluent Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, McKinney has been deemed one of the best places to live, despite a higher-than-average cost of living. It offers historical heritage, above-average schools, music, parks, and other outdoor spaces, festivals and cultural arts, plus peaceful neighborhoods.
Growth fueled by: McKinney’s thriving business community includes a mix of industries, such as medical technology, data management, manufacturing, retail, defense, and aviation, including one of its biggest employers, Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems. The city has added several industrial and office parks in recent years and has attracted several tech start-ups, spurring employment opportunities.
Median household income: $93,354
Median age: 36.2 years
Median home value: $507,560
Best time to sell a home in McKinney: List in July, sell in October for 3.08% more than the yearly average.
7. Meridian, Idaho
About: Located in the southwest corner of the state, Meridian boasts low unemployment and crime rates. Affordable housing is abundant in the wide-open spaces of Idaho. Nature lovers and outdoor adventure seekers enjoy opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, camping, and skiing. But it’s not all rugged wild west out there. A lively downtown features a European-style outdoor shopping center and lots of restaurants and entertainment. For those who appreciate four seasons, this is one location beyond the sunbelt.
Growth fueled by: Some come for their education at Idaho State University. Many use it as a bedroom community. Boise, just 20 minutes away, is the new tech start-up region, creating many jobs. Closer to home, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho is a big employer.
Median household income: $71,389
Median age: 36.2 years
Median home value: $572,814
Best time to sell a home in Meridian: List in August, sell in November for 5.78% more than the yearly average.
8. Irvine, California
About: This master-planned city is a Los Angeles suburb in Orange County designed to accommodate growth. Just minutes from the beach, Irvine also features several golf courses and a wildlife sanctuary. It’s home to the University of California Irvine. A low crime rate, good schools, diverse cuisine, loads of cultural activities, and a hopping nightlife make Irvine a fun yet safe place to live.
Growth fueled by: Employment opportunities at big companies like Vizio, Taco Bell, and Broadcom help drive growth, as does being the U.S. headquarters of tech companies such as Samsung and Toshiba. In fact, more than one-third of all Fortune 500 companies are based in the city. Prices are high, but year-round warm weather and the California lifestyle are major attractions.
Median household income: $111,574
Median age: 33 years
Median home value: $1,208,725
Best time to sell a home in Irvine: List in September, sell in December for 1.74% more than the yearly average.
9. Charlotte, North Carolina
About: Charlotte is a commercial hub with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, as well as better-than-average schools. Just a short drive from both the Appalachian Mountains and the beach, Charlotte offers warm weather, Southern charm, affordability, and local culture. Home to pro sports teams in the NFL and NBA, the Queen city also features museums, parks, and a dynamic brewery scene. Large, established trees highlight older neighborhoods, with even the more cosmopolitan areas kept rigorously clean.
Growth fueled by: As the biggest financial center outside of New York City, Charlotte has long hosted the corporate headquarters of Bank of America, Truist Financial, and the east coast headquarters of Wells Fargo. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a hub for American Airlines. Healthcare, logistics and distribution, and advanced manufacturing are booming industries in the area, but several energy companies now have headquarters there. While you experience all four seasons, winters are mild. Schools are exceptional, the cost of living is low, housing is affordable, and there are plenty of cultural and outdoor activities in this quaint city.
Median household income: $65,359
Median age: 34.2 years
Median home value: $367,231
Best time to sell a home in Charlotte: List in March, sell in June for 5.66% more than the yearly average.
10. Murfreesboro, Tennessee
About: Less than 40 miles from Nashville, Murfreesboro is known for its Civil War history, with landmarks such as Stones River National Battlefield and Stones River Cemetery. Additional history can be found in Oaklands Mansion, a former plantation house with an arboretum and gardens, and Cannonsburgh Village. Time magazine calls it quaint, possibly because of its Southern charm or agricultural roots. It offers good schools, greenways, and parks, historic farms, while other natural and historical sites beckon.
Growth fueled by: Nearby Nashville is seeing an increase in start-ups, leading to employment opportunities for this bedroom community. Low taxes and corporate relocations are bringing new people to the area. Healthcare is the biggest industry in the region, but a Nissan plant also employs a lot of people.
Median household income: $80,344
Median age: 30.4 years
Median home value: $396,999
Best time to sell a home in Murfreesboro: List in August, sell in November for 6.16% more than the yearly average.
Good cities for first-time homebuyers
About one in eight jobs offers a work-from-home option, lifting some of the established restrictions for where workers must live. This opens up opportunities for workers to live near family or in more affordable locations.
But no matter where you go, homes are more expensive than they used to be. It can be difficult for first-time homebuyers in particular. Fortunately, several cities still have median home prices under $200,000. Here are a few of them, with their median home prices:
- Macon, Georgia – $104,750
- Peoria, Illinois – $124,950
- Saginaw, Michigan – $125,500
- Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan – $155,000
- Augusta, Georgia – $132,000
- Charleston, W. Virginia – $138,500
- Montgomery, Alabama – $151,770
- Lake Charles, Louisiana – $173,000
- St. Louis, Missouri – $175,000
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia – $180,000
Handy resources for homeowners considering a move
If you’re contemplating – or planning – a move, check out these resources to make the transition easier.
Cost of Living Calculator: Want to know how far your money will take you in different cities? Compare the cost of living in two cities to see if your salary will support your lifestyle if you move.
County Median Home Prices and Monthly Mortgage Payment: In addition to learning the median home price county-by-county across the U.S., compare monthly mortgage payments with last year’s figures.
Hottest Real Estate Markets: Knowing supply and demand in various real estate markets can aid you in pricing your home for sale or in bidding on a new one.
State Housing Statistics: Check each state’s housing association for important statistics.
City Data: Check out median home prices, jobs, population, and more for any city you’re considering relocating to.
Neighborhood Data: Dig a little deeper within your chosen city to get some information on individual neighborhoods. This can help you decide more specifically where to look for a new home.
School Rating: Check out prospective schools in your new city and see where they rank.
Home Value Estimator: When you’re ready to sell your home, get a fast, free estimate of its value by using HomeLight’s Value Estimator. Answer a few questions. We’ll consult housing market data from multiple sources to provide a ballpark estimate of your home’s worth.
Agent Commissions Calculator: Wondering how much you’ll have to pay a real estate agent to buy or sell your home? Use this calculator to find out.
Home Affordability Calculator: Plug in some financial details and a city to see what your housing budget and your monthly payments might look like.
Net Proceeds Calculator: HomeLight’s calculator will subtract an agent’s commission and your remaining payments from your home’s value to indicate about how much you might clear from a sale. It can also connect you with top agents or cash buyers.
Best Time to Sell Calculator: If you have flexibility in your move, find out the best (and worst) months for selling your home with HomeLight’s calculator.
What Your New Home Needs the First Year: No matter how turn-key a home is, you’ll probably want to paint a room, change a window treatment, upgrade an appliance, or revamp the landscaping. This resource lets you know what are good DIY projects and the tools you’ll need, and which projects require an expert.
Making moving easier by partnering with a top agent
Whether you’re moving for a job, the job is moving you, or you have the flexibility to live anywhere you want, it’s helpful to see which cities are growing – and why.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer in search of affordability, or if you want to check out the hot markets, we’ve got resources for that. Our list of resources will also help you determine your home’s value and how far your money will stretch in a different city. If you’re ready to sell or looking to buy, let HomeLight’s Agent Match platform help you find a top-performing real estate agent who is knowledgeable in your area.
Header Image Source: (Carlos Alfonso / Unsplash)