Florida has always been a tourist magnet, thanks to its beautiful weather, top-quality amenities, and cheery locals, among other things. However, of late, more and more people visiting the ‘Sun State’ are opting to make it their home, and this has made Florida one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. In fact, the rate of growth has been so fast that it has actually overtaken the mighty New York metropolitan as the third most populated state in the country.
Consequently, Florida’s cities have been bustling with activity. Here is a review of five of the fastest growing cities in Florida; the ranking is based on population growth as well as the development of infrastructure and amenities. Whether living in a populated area is a pro or con is hugely subjective, and varies from person to person. A businessman finds it convenient because of increased opportunities, while a writer may find it disadvantageous due to increased interruptions.
5. St. Cloud
St. Cloud’s motto of “Celebrating the Small Town Life” is fast losing its relevance, considering the rate at which it is growing. It is the fifth fastest growing city in the state, and registered a 15% increase in population growth. As of 2010, the city had 30,742 residents, but this number increased to 36,371 in The city has been gaining popularity for its affordable cost of living, which stands at 6% less than the rest of the state. The median home value is also 25% lower than Florida, and schools are better than average with only a 2% lower index than the rest of the cities. The average household income is at 4% higher, while crimes are 35% lower than the rest of the state.
Groveland was once the fastest growing city in Florida but has apparently failed to catch up, perhaps because of the fewer amenities available. When it comes to infrastructure, Groveland can be ranked in the B category. This has subsequently contributed to better schooling, with the high school graduation index in this city standing at 5% less than the rest of Florida. The cost of living is also relatively fair, at 5% less than other cities in the state.
This has helped it maintain the fourth position among the fastest growing cities in Florida. Housing is affordable (at least for most people), with the average home value closing in at 15% less than the rest of Florida. Crime has also reduced significantly in the city, with the rate averaging to 14% less than the rest of Florida. This is attributed to the 5% higher household income level, and increased employment opportunities. Groveland had a population of 7,035 in 2010 and 8,678 in 2015, representing a 15% growth rate. The city’s livability score is currently 77.
Doral is one of the most expensive cities to live in Florida, but that has not deterred people from settling there. The city has witnessed a population growth of 17%, with the number of residents rising from 39,148 in 2010 to 45,233 in 2015. Today, it is the third fastest growing city in Florida, and statistics show that it may soon overtake Marianna and even Sweetwater. Doral has been growing steadily over the past ten years, and its high population easily dwarfs that of the other cities covered herein. In 2005, it was featured among the cities with the perfect blend of lifestyle and business appeal, with Forbes ranking it as 51st on the list.
Coupled with the friendly weather, the numerous employment and business opportunities have made the city alluring to many outsiders, but this has subsequently pushed up the cost of living. Doral has a 27% higher cost of living index compared to other cities in the state, and the average value of a home is about 90% higher. Fortunately, this is evened out by the higher rates of employment: the average household income is approximately 54% higher than the rest of Florida. Education quality is also much better, with high school graduation index being 15% higher in the state. However, this has come at the price of increased crime rate, which stands at around 15% above the rest of Florida.
The quick growth of Marianna is easily understandable, considering everything that it has to offer. The ‘City of Southern Charm’ has registered a population growth of 28% since 2010. As of 2010, the city was home to 5,172 people, but this number has grown to 7,330 in the past five years.
While the favorable weather has certainly contributed to the explosive population growth in Marianna, its affordability is the main reason behind the influx of new residents. The cost of living in Marianna is 19% lower than the rest of Florida, and it has an impressive livability score of 74. What’s more, the median price for housing is about half of that of the rest of the state. These factors combine to make the city ideal for families living on a budget.
Amazingly, the crime rate in Marianna is 10% lower than the rest of the state, but about 16% relatively less students graduate from high school. Additionally, the median income for households is an alarmingly 48% less than the rest of Florida. However, the median home value is lower by about 39%.
Sweetwater boasts the fastest growth rate in Florida with a population growth of 34% in the last five years. The city had up to 11,599 people in 2010, a population that grew to 17,600 in 2015 and continues to grow at an increasing pace. The exponential growth has been attributed to the flow of immigrants. Sweetwater is actually home to the largest population of Nicaraguan Americans.
In addition to the good weather, Sweetwater has an impressive array of infrastructure and amenities. It registers a 2% lower cost of living compared to the rest of Florida, and the median value of home is 33% less than other cities in the state.
However, its rate of crime is equally higher, with statistics suggesting a 31% progression from the rest of Florida. Up to 24% less students graduate from high school. The median household income for most families is 33% lower than the rest of Florida. However, the cost of living has remained largely stable for the last five years, and it has a livability score of 76.