Reno, Nevada.

When calculating the Best Places to Live, U.S. News factors in each metro area’s growth due to net migration, which is part of the larger desirability score and accounts for 5% of the total calculations.(GETTY IMAGES)

Where are people moving? One of the best indicators for examining what makes a place highly desirable is whether it’s seeing significant population growth. When calculating the Best Places to Live, U.S. News factors in each metro area’s growth due to net migration, which is part of the larger desirability score and accounts for 5% of the total calculations.

For the 2023-2024 rankings, we used the U.S. Census Bureau’s net migration data from 2020 to 2021, the most recent complete data set at the time of our calculations. Places seeing the most growth attract new residents for many reasons, including a hot job market, affordable housing, a desirable location or some other factor. Read on for the 25 metro areas – out of the 150 most populous in the U.S. – that have grown most over this period.


  1. Spokane, Washington
  2. Portland, Maine
  3. Greenville, South Carolina
  4. Reno, Nevada
  5. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
  6. Killeen, Texas
  7. Tampa, Florida
  8. Pheonix
  9. Jacksonville, Florida
  10. Knoxville, Tennessee
  11. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  12. Huntsville, Alabama
  13. Austin, Texas
  14. Spartanburg, South Carolina
  15. Melbourne, Florida
  16. Salisbury, Maryland
  17. Naples, Florida
  18. Daytona Beach, Florida
  19. Ocala, Florida
  20. Boise, Idaho
  21. Port St. Lucie, Florida
  22. Lakeland, Florida
  23. Fort Myers, Florida
  24. Sarasota, Florida
  25. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Sarasota, Florida, USA downtown skyline and palm trees.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 5
Metro Population: 824,160
Median Age: 53.1
Median Home Price: $387,630
Average Annual Salary: $49,760
Net Migration: 3.55%

With a median age of more than 53 years, Sarasota is a particularly attractive destination for retirees, ranking No. 11 on the Best Places to Retire ranking for 2022-2023. Sarasota grew by a whopping 3.55% between 2020 and 2021 due to net migration.

Fort Myers Beach Florida

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 91
Metro Population: 752,251
Median Age: 48.9
Median Home Price: $509,633
Average Annual Salary: $48,940
Net Migration: 3.51%

Fort Myers is the No. 3 fastest-growing place on our list and has been in the top five for at least as many years. The area grew by 3.51% between 2020 and 2021 due to net migration. Fort Myers scores high on safety, scoring the No. 3 spot on our Safest Places to Live rankings. It’s also a solid place to retire, ranking No. 38 on our rankings for Best Places to Retire.

Lakeland, Florida, USA gardens at dusk.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 105
Metro Population: 713,148
Median Age: 40.1
Median Home Price: $353,429
Average Annual Salary: $46,840
Net Migration: 3.5%

Located in the center of Florida’s peninsula, Lakeland is showing strong growth that mirrors the state’s coastal metro areas featured on the list. Clearly, people moving to the area are just as attracted to the many lakes that give Lakeland its name as they are the beach access in other parts of the state. Lakeland grew by 3.5% from 2020 to 2021 due to net migration alone.

Aerial drone image of Port St Lucie Florida USA

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 63
Metro Population: 482,922
Median Age: 47.9
Median Home Price: $429,104
Average Annual Salary: $47,710
Net Migration: 3.4%

Located along the Treasure Coast, Port St. Lucie attracts people looking for a place with plenty of waterways to explore and, of course, warm Florida weather. With fewer than a half-million residents, Port St. Lucie is more toned down and less touristy than places like Miami and Tampa. But the area is increasingly attracting attention, as the Port St. Lucie area grew by 3.4% from 2020 to 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Downtown Street in historic Ocala, Florida.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 67
Metro Population: 370,372
Median Age: 48.3
Median Home Price: $313,625
Average Annual Salary: $44,040
Net Migration: 3.03%

This inland metro area in Central Florida grew by 3.03% between 2020 and 2021 due to net migration alone. While the metro area isn’t on the beach, it’s located just west of the Ocala National Forest, which offers plenty of outdoor activities from swimming to hiking and biking. Ocala residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living compared with a lot of other Florida metro areas, spending 23.19% of the median household income on housing, putting it on par with the national median.

Daytona Beach, USA - November 23, 2013: People enjoy the evening at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk Amusement Area, Florida.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 49
Metro Population: 662,671
Median Age: 47.5
Median Home Price: $375,917
Average Annual Salary: $44,620
Net Migration: 2.89%

Daytona Beach’s growth from net migration between 2020 and 2021 reached above nearly 3%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The coastal metro area attracts plenty of tourists to NASCAR races and local beaches, but many of these visitors also appear happy enough to make the place their next hometown. Like many other spots on this list, Daytona Beach attracts many retirees and has a median age of 47.5.

Naples, Florida, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 6
Metro Population: 372,797
Median Age: 51.5
Median Home Price: $823,196
Average Annual Salary: $50,820
Net Migration: 2.84%

Located on the Gulf Coast where the Everglades begin, Naples receives a high score for its desirability and ranks No. 1 safest place to live out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Naples grew by 2.84% between 2020 and 2021 due to net migration.

The Eau Gallie Causeway is a bridge leading from the mainland of Melbourne, Florida to the barrier island and the beaches.

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 601,573
Median Age: 47
Median Home Price: $217,400
Average Annual Salary: $54,360
Net Migration: 2.05%

Known as the Space Coast because it’s home to the Kennedy Space Flight Center, Melbourne saw its population grow by 2.05% due to net migration between 2020 and 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and much of the interest in this Florida metro area comes from retirees. The median age here is 47 years, compared to the national median of just under 39 years, according to the Census Bureau.

The Skyline of Jacksonville with beautiful Reflections in the Water

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 16
Metro Population: 1,581,680
Median Age: 38.7
Median Home Price: $391,804
Average Annual Salary: $51,910
Net Migration: 1.6%

Jacksonville saw an increase in population of 1.6% from 2020 to 2021. Sunny Florida weather certainly attracts people to the state, but Jacksonville provides the added benefit of being a more affordable place to live than much of the rest of Florida. Jacksonville residents spend 25.17% of the area’s median household income on housing, above the national median of 24% but still less expensive than some other Florida metro areas.

Tampa Florida skyline with sun and clouds

Best Places 2023-2024 Rank: 24
Metro Population: 3,146,074
Median Age: 42.2
Median Home Price: $427,241
Average Annual Salary: $53,270
Net Migration: 1.43%

With more than 3 million residents, Tampa is the second-largest metro area on this list, after Phoenix. And it continues to grow: The area’s population increased by 1.43% between 2020 and 2021 due to net migration. Many other Florida cities are experiencing rapid population growth, as there are still nine more Sunshine State metro areas on this list growing even faster than Tampa.