A mass migration is underway in the United States to places that are more affordable with strong job growth and warmer weather. The Census Bureau just released a new report on population growth that shows people are migrating to mostly Southern and Western regions, and Central Florida is one of them.
The Census Bureau offered the report as an estimate of what it expects to see after the official 2020 Census headcount. (1) That will give more accurate data on the population growth of each region from the time of the last Census in 2010. This preview is valuable information for anyone who wants to know where people are moving to and where we can expect housing demand to grow.
Census Bureau Population Estimates
The report breaks the data into several categories that include counties, metros, numeric growth, and percentage growth. It also includes different time frames with growth numbers from 2010 to the present, and for more recent activity from 2017 to 2018. As a very broad result, it shows that people are moving from colder climates, in places like the Northeast, to warmer ones in states like Texas and Florida.
If you look at the top ten list of metros with the strongest numeric growth, three are in Texas, including Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Florida snagged two spots with Orlando taking the fifth position and Tampa taking the ninth. Other metros that have gained the most number of residents include Phoenix, Atlanta, and Seattle. The Riverside County region in Southern California is also seeing a big growth spurt along with Washington, D.C.
Top Population Growth Cities
But let’s look at percentages, which give you a better idea of the growth impact. At the top of that list is Midland, Texas which grew 4.3% in one year. It’s located halfway between Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso with about 300 miles on each side. That makes it more of what some people call an “exurb” than a suburb because it’s so far away from a big city.
Let’s take a look at another top ten area in Central Florida. It’s the Lakeland-Winter Haven region between the fast-growing metros of Orlando and Tampa. A Curbed article describes it as a once remote, rural area that was covered with citrus trees. (2) It’s now becoming an extension of these two other hot Florida metros because it connects and provides a more affordable option for some buyers. The Census report says, the Lakeland area population surged 3.2% in one year, which put it in fourth place on that list.
The Tampa-Orlando Conurbation
One local real estate developer, Garrett Kenny, told Forbes, “It is only a matter of time before the area between Tampa and Orlando becomes, in essence, a conurbation.” According to Dictionary.com, a conurbation is, “an extensive urban area resulting from the expansion of several cities or towns so that they coalesce but usually retain their separate identities.” Kenny says, it’s a great opportunity for developers because, “Getting in early while growth potential is particularly high is how developers can realize massive success.” It’s also a good time to think about rental properties while prices are low and demand is growing.
According to the Curbed article, Orlando is the ninth-fastest growing region in the country with a population increase of 20% since 2010. It’s also been one of the top cities for job growth for several years in a row, and is in the midst of a building boom with $10 billion in infrastructure projects and almost a billion in downtown development. It gained about 60,000 residents last year. Tampa was close behind with 51,000 new residents.
If you merge Orlando, Tampa, and the area in between, you get a total of 4.3 million people. Analysts cited by Curbed expect that number to hit 5.2 million by the year 2030.
I also wanted to mention another interesting development in Florida. It’s called “The Villages.” If you’ve never heard of it, it’s one of the largest senior communities in the nation. According to Investopedia, it has more than 56,000 homes and spreads across three counties. Homes range in price from less than $100,000 to more than $1 million, and are connected by streets designed for cars and golf carts. It’s also a very active community with plenty to do. The U.S. News and World Report calls it, “Disney World for Adults.” (3)
According to the Census report, the population for this community surged 3.1% in the past year, to more than 124,000 people. If you look back from 2010, the growth rate is almost 40% since then. The Curbed article says, the community is the size of Manhattan with plans to expand. It’s part of this “silver tsunami” that’s expected to sweep the nation as all those Baby Boomers relocate to communities that offer more socially active lifestyles.
Demographics researcher, Hamilton Lombard, told Curbed that the “nation’s 65-plus population will grow by roughly 90 percent” from 2010 to 2040. He says that in some parts of the country, retirees will account for most of the population growth.
You may recall from a prior podcast that my company, RealWealth, was able to pick up 4,200 lots just north of Tampa for about 10 cents on the dollar during the Great Recession, when land values tanked. We re-entitled it from a golf course property to a Crystal Lagoon. Those homes are now pre-selling — and the timing couldn’t be better. You can check it out at https://mirada.metroplaces.com
I’ll leave you with one more interesting thought in regard to the migration scenario. Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist calls it “air conditioning.” Without that, he says “you would not see population growth in these places.”
(2) Curbed Article
(3) The Villages: US News