One of the most important things to think about when investing in real estate is whether the property you are investing in is located in a growing metropolitan area. When the metro area is growing quickly, this usually means there is a property shortage—when such a shortage occurs, property values will likely appreciate at a faster rate. When the metro area is shrinking, on the other hand, property values will likely stagnate or, in some cases, decrease.
Since 1790, the United States—as mandated by the Constitution—conducts a national census. The census serves many different purposes, including figuring out how to allocate congressional representatives. Additionally, the census offers very useful insight into which metro areas are growing the fastest.
New York has been the largest city for every census in American history—it has also been considered one of the largest metropolitan areas, though the concept of a “metro population” did not become widely utilized until later on. According to the US Census Bureau, the New York Metropolitan Area’s population was previously listed as 19,378,102 as of April 1, 2010. Its population is now listed as 20,201,249 as of April 1, 2020, representing a 0.4% increase from just one decade earlier.
Other metropolitan areas are growing quickly as well. Below, we will list the eight fastest-growing metro areas in the United States, along with some of their possible reasons for growth. By taking the time to understand where housing is most likely to continue increasing in demand, you can enhance your skills as a real estate investor.
Located in Sumter County of Central Florida, The Villages claims the top spot for fastest-growing metros within the United States. The metro increased in population from 93,000 to 129,000 (a 39 percent increase), allowing it to cross the 100,000-person threshold and qualify as an independent metropolitan area. The metro is also home to one of the oldest populations in the United States—the majority of new residents are retired. The combination of affordable housing, community development districts, and heavy outside investment have all combined to cause a tremendous rate of growth.
Austin, Texas is the fastest-growing large metropolitan area (more than 1 million) in the United States, with a growth rate this past decade of 33 percent. The capital city—that is also home to the state’s flagship university—was able to enjoy a very large bump in metro population, growing from 1.7 million to 2.3 million in just ten years. Austin is well known for its live music scene, including playing host to the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), as well as its barbeque and Mexican food. But perhaps most importantly, Austin has also become a hub for new high-paying jobs, particularly within the tech sector.
Located in the southwest corner of the state, near Zion and many other beautiful national parks, the St. George, Utah metro area has grown by more than 30 percent over the last decade alone. During this time, the population of the desert and mountain-based metro grew from 1380,000 to 180,000. Utah, as a whole, has the highest birth rate of any state in the nation—the beautiful scenery and relatively affordable housing found throughout this region certainly make it hard to leave.
Located about 49 miles northeast of Denver, and a little further away from the Rocky Mountains, Greeley has been the fastest-growing metropolitan area within the Centennial State. It was one of just metros to experience at least 30 percent growth over the past ten years, rising in population from 252,000 to about 3290,000. One of the things that makes Greeley attractive? It is significantly more affordable than nearby Denver, which has seen rent increase by about 6 percent in the last year alone.
Located on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina, Myrtle Beach has increased in population by 29.5 percent over the course of the last ten years. This represents a change in metro population from 376,000 to 487,000 in a relatively short time. Though the area has long been recognized for its beautiful beaches and vacation culture, most new residents are living here permanently. Both North and South Carolina experienced above-average growth this past decade, likely contributing to Myrtle Beach’s population spike.
Provo, Utah is home to Brigham Young University (BYU) and is one of the most important cities on the Wasatch Front. Located about 40 miles from Salt Lake City, this separate metropolitan area experienced a 27.4 percent population increase—moving from a population of 526,000 to 671,000. Though Utah, as a whole, was the fastest-growing state in the nation this last census (increasing in population by 18.4 percent), Provo’s scenery, location, and budding culture scene have helped it grow even faster.
Daphne, Alabama is occasionally considered to be part of the Mobile Metropolitan Area but according to the census bureau, it is an independent metro. Between 2010 and 2020, the population of the metro rose from 182,000 to 231,000, which equates to an approximately 27 percent increase. Like Myrtle Beach and other areas, Daphne is a prime example of once-vacation destinations playing host to full-time residents.
Located in the middle of the state of Oregon, Bend represents one of the state’s few population clusters that is not within close proximity of Portland. The metro area’s population increased from 158,000 to 198,000 over the past ten years, which represents an impressive 25.7 percent increase. People are drawn to Bend because it is much more affordable than Portland and also has access to some of the best outdoor sports destinations available in the country.
In addition to each of these cities, Orlando, FL and Raleigh, NC, have also grown by more than 25 percent over the past decade—truly an impressive feat. Consistent with the census as a whole, these growing populations help demonstrate how the nation is continuing to move both South and West. Many of these areas are already beginning to experience housing prices on the rise but there are undoubtedly still many great investment opportunities available.