Special Report

Cities Americans Are Flocking To

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Millions of Americans relocate each year, whether to find work, go to college, move to a retirement destination, or for another reason. The year 2020 was no exception. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of people who relocated moved to an area with lower housing prices, abandoning large cities like New York and Chicago in favor of smaller metro areas where they could better afford to buy a home.

This only continued the yearslong trend of Americans moving from the Northeast and Midwest in favor of the South and West, boosting the populations of a handful of metro areas with thousands of transplants each year. There are 25 metro areas in the U.S. whose populations have grown by more than 17% in the past decade due to net migration alone.

To determine the cities Americans are flocking to, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program. Cities were ranked based on the percentage increase in population due to net migration from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2020.

A total of 13 of the 25 cities with the fastest population growth due to net migration are in Florida. The Sunshine State is known as a top retirement destination due to its low tax burden, relatively inexpensive housing, and year-round warm weather. These factors convinced thousands of Americans — many of them older — to move to Florida. Many of the other states that are growing the fastest due to net migration have similar qualities. These are the best and worst states for a healthy retirement.

South Carolina, North Carolina, and Idaho are the only other states with multiple metro areas on this list. Regionally, 19 cities on the list are in the South and six are in the West. No city in the Midwest or the Northeast ranks anywhere among the top 25 — or even top 50 — cities Americans are flocking to.

Click here see the cities Americans are flocking to.

Source: Michael Warren / Getty Images

25. Ocala, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +17.3% (+57,293)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +12.7% (+42,217)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +17.2% (+15,500)
> 2020 population estimate: 373,513

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24. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +17.4% (+115,721)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +23.3% (+155,058)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +23.2% (+66,700)
> 2020 population estimate: 819,705

Source: ghornephoto / Getty Images

23. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +17.8% (+41,889)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +22.7% (+53,600)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +18.6% (+18,100)
> 2020 population estimate: 289,468

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

22. Raleigh-Cary, NC
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +18.0% (+203,158)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +25.6% (+289,897)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +25.6% (+127,400)
> 2020 population estimate: 1,420,376

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21. Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +18.2% (+34,029)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +21.5% (+40,234)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +21.1% (+13,900)
> 2020 population estimate: 227,244

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

20. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +18.3% (+391,639)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +23.7% (+504,973)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +20.8% (+206,200)
> 2020 population estimate: 2,639,374

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19. Boise City, ID
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +18.6% (+114,539)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +24.9% (+153,787)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +35.7% (+90,500)
> 2020 population estimate: 770,353

Source: desertsolitaire / Getty Images

18. Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +19.0% (+40,097)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +13.8% (+29,218)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +15.4% (+8,500)
> 2020 population estimate: 240,226

Source: Xianghong Garrison / iStock via Getty Images

17. Homosassa Springs, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +19.2% (+27,055)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +8.3% (+11,781)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +-4.2% (+-1,400)
> 2020 population estimate: 153,010

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16. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +19.5% (+115,169)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +15.2% (+89,665)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +15.3% (+26,300)
> 2020 population estimate: 679,948

Source: felixmizioznikov / Getty Images

15. Port St. Lucie, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +19.5% (+82,838)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +17.7% (+75,166)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +24.2% (+29,400)
> 2020 population estimate: 499,274

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14. Coeur d’Alene, ID
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +20.3% (+28,134)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +23.2% (+32,162)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +27.0% (+14,300)
> 2020 population estimate: 170,628

Source: RobHainer / Getty Images

13. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +22.0% (+132,537)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +23.7% (+142,484)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +24.2% (+46,200)
> 2020 population estimate: 744,552

Source: Bryan Bean / Wikimedia Commons

12. Greeley, CO
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +22.3% (+56,262)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +32.1% (+81,147)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +34.6% (+27,100)
> 2020 population estimate: 333,983

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11. Naples-Marco Island, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +22.4% (+72,076)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +22.2% (+71,459)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +33.5% (+37,200)
> 2020 population estimate: 392,973

Source: dosecreative / Getty Images

10. Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +23.0% (+31,790)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +17.7% (+24,490)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +17.9% (+7,900)
> 2020 population estimate: 162,518

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9. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +23.9% (+410,335)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +33.7% (+578,996)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +38.3% (+300,600)
> 2020 population estimate: 2,295,303

Source: George Dodd / Getty Images

8. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +24.9% (+45,301)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +25.8% (+47,024)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +25.0% (+15,300)
> 2020 population estimate: 229,287

Source: JamesBrey / Getty Images

7. Bend, OR
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +25.5% (+40,225)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +27.9% (+44,041)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +35.4% (+21,700)
> 2020 population estimate: 201,769

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6. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +26.1% (+183,136)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +21.7% (+152,378)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +26.1% (+61,900)
> 2020 population estimate: 854,684

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

5. St. George, UT
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +26.7% (+36,905)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +33.9% (+46,798)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +54.7% (+25,100)
> 2020 population estimate: 184,913

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4. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +28.1% (+174,050)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +27.8% (+172,006)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +34.9% (+69,200)
> 2020 population estimate: 790,767

Source: Photoladybug / Getty Images

3. Punta Gorda, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +31.3% (+50,133)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +21.7% (+34,737)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +16.4% (+6,800)
> 2020 population estimate: 194,711

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

2. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +37.8% (+142,172)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +36.6% (+137,923)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +15.0% (+21,100)
> 2020 population estimate: 514,488

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Source: Michael Warren / Getty Images

1. The Villages, FL
> Population change due to migration, 2010-2020: +61.5% (+57,449)
> Overall population change, 2010-2020: +48.8% (+45,598)
> Change in employed population, 2010-2020: +50.0% (+10,500)
> 2020 population estimate: 139,018

Methodology

To determine the cities Americans are flocking to, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program. Cities were ranked based on the percentage increase in population due to net migration from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2020. Supplemental data on total employment used to calculate employment growth from 2010 to 2020 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program.

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