Special Report

Cities Americans Are Flocking To

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5. Bend-Redmond, OR
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +23.0% (+36,236)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +25.3% (+39,964)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +32.0% (+22,366)
> 2019 population estimate: 197,692

The Bend, Oregon metro area reported almost 40,000 more people in 2019 than it did in 2010. Nearly all of that growth was driven by migration, as over 36,000 more people moved to Bend than moved away from it.

Nearly all of the cities Americans are flocking to have a positive net migration from other countries of at least a few thousand people. Yet over the past decade, more people have left Bend, Oregon, to live overseas than have come from outside the U.S. to live there.

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4. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +24.6% (+152,286)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +24.5% (+151,822)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +36.0% (+89,326)
> 2019 population estimate: 770,577

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area had the fourth largest population change due to migration from 2010 to 2019 in America, though it was just the third largest in Florida. Migration increased the area’s population by 24.5%, as it attracted 152,286 more residents than it lost in the past decade.

Like many other cities on this list, the Cape Coral metro area likely attracted so many new residents because of its strengthening economy and desirability as a retirement destination. The area has the 12th highest share of senior citizens, at 28.7%. Its annual unemployment rate also dropped 9.4 percentage points, to 3.1%, from 2010 to 2019 — one of the largest declines in the country.

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3. Punta Gorda, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +26.4% (+42,167)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +18.1% (+28,943)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +19.7% (+11,393)
> 2019 population estimate: 188,910

Punta Gorda, Florida is one of just three U.S. metro areas in which the population increased by more than 26.4% due to migration from 2010 to 2019. Over 42,000 more people moved to the area than moved away from it over the past decade.

Punta Gorda, on the western coast of Florida, is a popular destination for retirees. It is one of just two metro areas in the country in which more than 40% of all residents are at least 65 years old. The area offers good weather and amenities that may help attract seniors.

Source: Curtis and Eric from Crawfordville, FL, USA / Wikimedia Commons

2. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +32.6% (+122,581)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +32.0% (+120,326)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +25.2% (+39,273)
> 2019 population estimate: 496,901

Myrtle Beach is one of just two metro areas in the country in which the population increased by over 30% due to migration in the past decade. The metro area comprises the northern part of South Carolina, as well as the southern part of North Carolina along the Atlantic Ocean. It now has nearly 500,000 residents, as over 122,000 more people moved to Myrtle Beach than moved away from it from 2010 to 2019.

A popular vacation destination, the Myrtle Beach area’s economy has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as people halted travel plans. The metro area’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, at 18.7%

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1. The Villages, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2019: +52.3% (+48,895)
> Overall population change, 2010-2019: +41.7% (+39,000)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2019: +41.8% (+9,171)
> 2019 population estimate: 132,420

The population of The Villages, Florida, has expanded due to migration more than any other metro area in the country by a significant margin. Its population increased 52.3% due to migration — nearly 20 percentage points beyond the next closest city. The Villages bills itself as “a collection of quaint retirement neighborhoods,” and tens of thousands of seniors have moved to the Central Florida community since 2010.

As you would expect from such a large community designed for seniors, there were fewer births in The Villages than in any other U.S. metro area, and there were just over 31,000 people working in the metro area, out of a population of 132,420.