The last decade saw some interesting trends in where Americans are choosing to live. Cold weather is apparently out, as cities across the North saw much slower growth than those across the South from coast to coast. We also saw the commanding return of the suburbs as a destination for young adults, especially in the last half of the 2010s.
We’ve looked at population figures compiled by various organizations from the past few years to figure out which cities have become the most in-demand places for anyone looking to relocate. These are the cities everyone is trying to live in right now.
Fort Myers, Florida
Located near the southern end of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers is attracting new residents in huge numbers. It was ranked as the fastest-growing city in America in a detailed study done by WalletHub that broke down trends including population and economic growth from 2010-2019. Since it has fewer than 100,000 residents, Fort Myers is classified as a “small” city but its population jumped nearly 32% in the past decade, according to Stacker, going from about 62,000 to about 82,000 residents in that time.
On the opposite end of the U.S. is Bend, Oregon, which is similar in size to Fort Myers and has seen a similar boom in population in the past decade. This city of just under 100,000 residents is located on the banks of the Deschutes River, more inland than Oregon’s biggest cities, surrounded by the kind of natural beauty anyone would expect from that state. The population of Bend grew by 31% from 2010-2020, according to Yahoo, and it was ranked second overall in WalletHub’s study of fast-growing cities. Bend is the perfect kind of landing spot for someone who wants the convenience of city life but the beauty and pace of a rural town.
In its 2020 ranking of the best places to live in America, Money magazine ranked Meridian at No. 3. This once-tiny Boise suburb (population of less than 10,000 in 1990) is now home to more than 106,000 people, giving it a 10-fold expansion in 30 years. Beautiful parks, family-friendly attractions and an explosion of available housing have made it a desirable place for relocators to consider.
If you travel just south of Las Vegas, you’ll hit the neighboring city of Enterprise, which has become a major population center in the past decade. This desert town saw its number of residents grow by nearly 60% from 2010-2019, according to Stacker, making it America’s second fastest-growing city of that period. Like Meridian, Idaho, Enterprise was a small town of fewer than 15,000 residents at the turn of the millennium, showing its growth has been fast and steady. Great weather, affordable homes and the proximity to one of the world’s most exciting entertainment destinations have made this city a magnet.
Look at any list of booming American cities and you’ll see Frisco near the top. While the entire state of Texas is seeing its population explode, this city, located just north of Dallas, has seen the most dramatic growth. From 2010-2020, its population grew by an insane 71.1%, which made it the fastest-growing city in America during that span, according to the financial news site Insider Monkey. WalletHub also scored it at the top of the nation for population growth and job growth for the last decade. It’s not tough to see why the Dallas Cowboys make their headquarters in this exciting midsize town.
Round Rock, Texas
Located about three hours south of Frisco, near the boomtown of Austin, Round Rock is another Texas suburb that is attracting tons of new residents. Sweltering temperatures, which float around the 100s in the summer and rarely dip below the 60s in the winter, haven’t impeded the city’s growth, which saw an increase of more than 33% in the past decade, according to Yahoo. Round Rock is home to Dell’s international headquarters, making this a go-to destination for college graduates looking for a job in the tech sector.
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Not many of America’s fastest-growing cities are located along the Atlantic Coast but Mount Pleasant is an exception. This affluent Charleston suburb has a median household income of $97,176, which is nearly twice the median household income for the state of South Carolina. People are practically fighting to move there, as the population has ballooned from less than 47,000 in 2000 to about 90,000 in 2019. WalletHub dubbed it one of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the nation for the past decade and one of the top five in the class of small cities.
South Jordan, Utah
No state saw its population grow by a higher percentage in the past decade than Utah and South Jordan has been expanding right along with it. This suburb of Salt Lake City is loaded with the kind of awe-inspiring natural beauty that has brought so many new residents flocking to the Western state. Between the various mountain ranges and the Jordan River, South Jordan is a dream for city dwellers who would rather see sky than skyscrapers when they look out their window. Insider Monkey named it the fifth fastest-growing city in America for 2010-2019 and the U.S. Census Bureau named it one of the nation’s 15 fastest growers from 2017-18.
Sugar Land, Texas
Named for its rich history in the production of sugar, this Houston suburb has proven too sweet for movers to ignore in recent years. Sugar Land was tied as the top city in America for population growth and job growth in WalletHub’s study of the nation’s cities from 2010-2019. Stacker reported that its size grew by more than 49% in that span, as it crossed the threshold from small to midsize city. However, if you want to settle in this booming town it’ll cost you, as the median household income is more than twice the state’s average, at $122,000.
Drive around the outskirts of the West Texas town of Midland and you’ll see iconic oil drilling rigs dotting the plains. The site of former President George W. Bush’s modest childhood home, Midland is a great example of a big city that feels small. It went from less than 100,000 residents in 2000 to more than 142,000 in 2019, making it one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities of this millennium. That’s all impressive considering it’s a couple of hours in any direction from a major metro area.
Located in California’s idyllic Orange County, Irvine is one of only two cities in that state to crack our list. It ranked inside the top 20 fastest-growing cities for the past decade in lists at WalletHub, Stacker and Yahoo, cracking the top 10 at the latter site. Yahoo’s list reported that Irvine’s population had grown by more than 35% from 2010-2019, as it now closes in on 300,000 residents. People who want to be in their own big city but still just a short drive from Los Angeles are flocking to Irvine in droves.
Given the coast-centric locations featured on this list, it might surprise you that a city located smack in the center of Tennessee would be attracting so many new residents. Murfreesboro has seen its population grow by more than 34% since 2010, ballooning to about 150,000 people today. WalletHub had the city tied atop its list of top American cities for job growth in the past decade, which has been a major reason for its explosion in popularity. Murfreesboro has its own burgeoning arts scene but is also less than an hour from Nashville and a stone’s throw from the grounds of the annual Bonnaroo Music Festival.
College Station, Texas
Best known as the home of Texas A&M University, College Station is quickly becoming one of the most attractive cities to the many people who are migrating to the Lone Star State. According to Stacker, the city in east Texas saw its population grow by more than 23% in the past decade, crossing from a small city to a midsize one of more than 110,000 residents in that span. College Station’s gross domestic product growth, low unemployment and housing growth have contributed to its new reputation as a boomtown.
Lehigh Acres, Florida
We already talked about the impressive growth of Fort Myers in the past decade but the neighboring city of Lehigh Acres has also been booming. This once-small town of about 33,000 residents in 2000 now has about 120,000 residents and is adding more all the time. Stacker called this Gulf Coast town the third fastest-growing city in America in the past decade in its recent study, estimating that its population had grown by more than 53% in that time alone. With a median household income of less than $47,000, Lehigh Acres is also one of the more affordable landing spots on this list.
North Charleston, South Carolina
Another South Carolina city neighboring Charleston that is booming right now is North Charleston. As a major manufacturing center for Boeing, North Charleston’s economic growth has helped its population explode in recent years. It was scored as one of the 25 fastest-growing cities in the nation by both WalletHub and Stacker for the past decade, adding about 25% more residents in that time. Well over 110,000 people now call this city home, taking it from small to midsize distinction since 2010, when it had about 96,000 residents.
Like nearby Sugar Land, the Houston satellite of Pearland is quickly attracting new residents. After growing its population by nearly 37% from 2010-2019, Pearland was listed as one of the top 10 boomtowns in America by Stacker. Going back even further, this city’s growth has been remarkable, as it went from 37,000 residents in 2000 to an estimated 131,000 in 2019. The demographics have shifted in an impressive way, as well, with nearly half of Pearland’s residents holding at least a four-year college degree.
Baseball fans may know Goodyear, Arizona as a spring training haven but this desert city has a lot more going for it. It’s an affluent suburb of Phoenix that is still quite modest in size, at least compared to others on this list, despite plenty of recent growth. According to Yahoo, its population grew by 33% from 2010-2019, reaching about 86,000 residents. The population of Goodyear has ballooned by more than 350% since 2000, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in America over the past 20 years.
League City, Texas
Due to its own population boom in the past couple of decades, League City has become the biggest city in Galveston County — and it’s only getting bigger. Another blossoming location in the greater Houston area, League City boasts great weather, waterfront views and close access to one of the biggest cities in the world. The city recently surpassed the 100,000-resident threshold and was found to be the safest city of that size in the entire state of Texas in 2019.
In its 2014 list of the best places to live in America, Money magazine put McKinney right at the top. A mix of small-town charm, attractive Victorian-era houses and a local economy driven by forward-thinking sectors earned it that prestigious honor. This north Texas town hasn’t stopped growing since then, either, with WalletHub tying it atop its rankings for population growth and job growth for all American cities in the past decade.
Waterfront views aren’t easy to find in Nevada but Henderson’s Lake Las Vegas offers a beautiful one. This already-big city boasts the second largest population in the state, right behind neighboring Las Vegas. When the 2000 census was conducted, Henderson had a respectable 175,000 residents but there are now more than 340,000 people who call it home, signaling a remarkable boom in the past 20 years. Master-planned communities and affordable housing have been cited as major reasons for the city’s popularity, especially with people who are fed up with paying to live in nearby California.
It’s no wonder the NFL’s Raiders decided to make Henderson its headquarters when the franchise relocated to Las Vegas.
Despite some people ditching California for Nevada, there are still plenty of new residents flocking to the Golden State every day. Milpitas has been a magnet for them in recent years, with this small city soaring in the past decade. The tech sector’s massive presence in Northern California has been a big part of the growth of Milpitas, as it’s located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Various semiconductor manufacturers and other tech giants, like SanDisk, call this booming town home, as do nearly 80,000 residents.
It was named America’s second fastest-growing small city by WalletHub in 2020, but if you’re thinking of moving there, you’d better have some serious cash. The median household income in Milpitas is more than $125,000.
Cape Coral, Florida
As you may have noticed, Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to some booming cities. Cape Coral is yet another one and it’s not tough to see why it has attracted so many new residents when you look at its layout. The city is home to more than 400 miles of canal waterways, which is more than any other city in the world and has earned it plenty of comparisons to Venice. That feature makes Cape Coral a paradise for boaters but roughly 200,000 residents now call it home for many reasons. It may sound like a place that’s out of reach for many but with a median household income of $57,125, Cape Coral is more affordable than you might think.
New Braunfels, Texas
In its 2020 ranking of the 50 best places to live in America, Money magazine had New Braunfels at No. 25 and one of only two cities in Texas to crack the list. It’s home to some lively entertainment options, including a world-class waterpark and the oldest dance hall in a state that deeply cherishes its music venues. Money praised the city’s economy and employment outlook, while also saying it’s much more affordable than trendy Austin, which is less than an hour down the road.
When the U.S. Census Bureau put out its 2019 figures for the fastest-growing cities in America, Buckeye was at the top. It ranked right ahead of New Braunfels, Texas, and was the only city that had grown by more than 8% in the previous year. Over the entire 2010s decade, Insider Monkey reported that this desert locale had grown by more than 56%, making it the second fastest-growing city for that entire period. Despite all that growth, this quaint Phoenix satellite still has well fewer than 100,000 people calling it home.
Apex, North Carolina
One more city in the Carolinas to make our list — and the only one up north — Apex has been steadily climbing the population-growth charts over the past three decades. In 2015, Money magazine named it the best place to live in America and shortly after that, the U.S. Census Bureau cited it as the third fastest-growing city in the country from 2017-18. It’s located close to Raleigh in the central part of North Carolina, making it one of the most popular suburbs in the nation. But don’t let Apex’s cute aesthetic make you think it’s completely accessible, as the median household income of $105,404 is nearly twice the average for the entire state.
Cedar Park, Texas
One more Texas suburb that has been blowing up in recent years is Cedar Park. This satellite of Austin was ranked among the 10 fastest-growing cities in America by Yahoo for the last decade. The publication said Cedar Park’s population had grown by more than 44% in that time, bringing it up to roughly 80,000 residents as of 2019. That means it’s still safely within the bounds of being considered a small city, which may be attractive for anyone looking to relocate to this exciting area, where the average resident is less than 35 years old.
San Tan Valley, Arizona
If you like your temperatures above 70 degrees nearly all year and for your summers to be positively boiling, Arizona’s San Tan Valley is waiting for you. This midsize desert oasis is yet another booming suburb of Phoenix. Sure, San Tan Valley is located in the Sonoran Desert but it’s far from a flat, dull landscape, since the San Tan Mountains surround the area. According to Stacker, the town’s population grew by 41.3% in the past decade alone, swelling to more than 105,000 residents. Not bad for a place that had fewer than 5,000 residents just 20 years ago!
For the last few entries in our list, we wanted to point to large cities that have grown significantly in the past few years. While a jump of 22% since 2010 might not seem huge compared to what some of the other towns on this list have pulled off, it’s a major accomplishment for a place the size of Seattle. This beloved metropolis of the Pacific Northwest was the only city with more than 500,000 residents to land in Stacker’s list of the 30 fastest-growing cities in America over the past decade. With a median resident age of 35.2 and a long-term unemployment rate of 5.27%, Seattle remains a great place for young people to move and find a career.
Up the entire East Coast, no large city has been growing faster than Miami in recent years. The U.S. Census Bureau named it the second fastest-growing large city in the country in 2019, after it posted growth of 1.25% from 2017-18. Still, Miami somehow has the feeling of a smaller city, thanks to the fact that it still has less than 500,000 residents (for now). With unbeatable weather, a world-class nightlife, endless entertainment options and a vibrant immigrant community, what’s not to like about this colorful city?
The only large city that surpassed Miami in the Census Bureau’s aforementioned report on growth was the capital of Texas. Austin has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades and has become known as one of the greatest magnets for artists, musicians and tech-sector workers in the nation. In 1990, about 465,000 people called Austin home and the figure jumped by about 200,000 every decade since with the city now nearing the 1 million mark. This diverse city is showing no signs of losing its luster for people looking to relocate.