Top 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

Ilyce R. Glink
·Yahoo! Homes Contributor

Where's everyone going?

Texas or California; cities in the two states absolutely dominate the ranking of fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more. Texas and California alone take up half the top 50 fastest-growing cities, with 15 for Texas and 10 for California, according to numbers just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

What's more: These aren't big cities. Unless you live near one of these places, you've probably never heard of most of them. Yet these towns have seen their populations grow as much as 8 percent in one year.

The largest of the these towns in the top 15 is Irvine, California, The city grew by 11,420 people over the past year to total 248,531. That's nearly a 5 percent growth rate.

The bulk of the growth in California centers around the San Francisco Bay Area, where the tech gold rush has created more jobs, more money and bigger towns surrounding the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose (which incidentally just joined the elite group of cities with more than a million people).

In Texas, the fastest-growing towns are spread out among the state's largest metro areas, including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.

None of the cities on this list are growing unrelated to a major metropolitan area. Even the ones in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Florida are all far-flung suburbs of major cities. Typically these suburbs are fairly new, and many are consistently ranked on this list.

(Note: We're talking above about growth rates. As far as sheer numbers of people added, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago make up the top three, followed by Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose. But adding people doesn't necessarily mean those cities are really growing much. New York's growth rate was just 0.6 percent -- while Chicago's was a flatlining 0 percent, meaning that the number of people it did add was so minuscule a proportion of the total population that it was statistically meaningless.)

These are the top 15 fastest-growing cities by rate of growth.

Buckeye, Arizona
Buckeye, Arizona

15. Buckeye, Arizona
Population: 59,470
Growth over the past year: 4.5 percent

Buckeye is a hodgepodge of interconnected subdivisions along Interstate 10 and the Gila River, about 35 miles west of Phoenix. The population exploded from 2000 to 2010, growing an incredible 678 percent, according to Census figures. While the growth rate has slowed since, it's still on an upward trend.

Pleasanton, California (Creative Commons/Michael C. Berch)
Pleasanton, California (Creative Commons/Michael C. Berch)

14. Pleasanton, California
Population: 77,682
Growth over the past year: 4.6 percent

Pleasanton is one of many San Francisco Bay Area cities on this list. Driven by huge economic growth radiating out of Silicon Valley, the Bay Area has seen a population explosion over the past decade, but particularly in the past five years. Couple that with rising rents and home prices in the epicenters of growth, such as San Jose and San Francisco, and the growth of places like Pleasanton, hanging on the edges of the region, was bound to happen.

New Braunfels, Texas is known for its plentiful tubing options along its rivers. Flickr user/ Jeff Gunn
New Braunfels, Texas is known for its plentiful tubing options along its rivers. Flickr user/ Jeff Gunn

13. New Braunfels, Texas
Population: 66,394
Growth over the past year: 4.8 percent

New Braunfels is a growing Texas town about 40 minutes away from San Antonio, Texas' third city whose population has hit the million mark. This German town in the middle of Texas is known for its historic, European-style historic downtown, the Schlitterbahn WaterPark Resort (along with the cold-spring rivers) and its German festivals, the Wurstfest and Wassailfest.

Irvine, California (Flickr user/ Kevin Zollman)
Irvine, California (Flickr user/ Kevin Zollman)

12. Irvine, California
Population: 248,531
Growth over the past year: 4.8 percent

Irvine is a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles that has seen progressive growth over the past year. According to the Census, it grew from 212,375 people in 2010 to almost 250,000 this year.

The public library in Dublin, Texas (Creative Commons/ Rich Walker)
The public library in Dublin, Texas (Creative Commons/ Rich Walker)

11. Dublin, California
Population: 54,695
Growth over the past year: 4.9 percent

Just north of Pleasanton, lies Dublin, another Bay Area city experiencing skyrocketing growth thanks to the tech boom.

The castle rock of Castle Rock, Colorado. (Creative Commons/ Jeff Albright)
The castle rock of Castle Rock, Colorado. (Creative Commons/ Jeff Albright)

10. Castle Rock, Colorado
Population: 55,747
Growth over the past year: 4.9 percent

Castle Rock is aptly named after a rock that resembles a castle near the center of town. About halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver, the city has doubled in size every decade dating back to the 1970s, and its growth still hasn't slowed. 

The Village at Meridian shopping center in Meridian, Idaho (CenterCal Properties)
The Village at Meridian shopping center in Meridian, Idaho (CenterCal Properties)

9. Meridian, Idaho
Population: 87,743
Growth over the past year: 5.1 percent

A large, western suburb of Boise, Meridian's population has just exploded over the past 25 years. Most of that growth actually happened in the 1990s, when the city went from just under 10,000 people in 1990 to nearly 35,000 in 2000—an increase of 264 percent. But that growth hasn't stopped, even if it has slowed. The population was 75,092 in 2010 and has since grown by 15 percent.

Ed Levin Park in Milipitas City, California (stpfriends.org)
Ed Levin Park in Milipitas City, California (stpfriends.org)

8. Milpitas, California
Population: 73,672
Growth over the past year: 5.1 percent

The third (and final) Bay Area suburb to make the list, Milpitas is just north of San Jose near the Baylands. It's the corporate headquarters for a number of Silicon Valley companies including Cisco Systems, Flextronics and SanDisk.

McKinney, Texas (Creative Commons/ Agriffin)
McKinney, Texas (Creative Commons/ Agriffin)

7. McKinney, Texas
Population: 156,767
Growth over the past year: 5.1 percent


Dallas-Fort Worth residents looking for more space and cheaper real estate have been heading northwest. McKinney and its next-door neighbor Frisco are both on the list, and neither is a stranger to the fastest-growing cities list. McKinney was the fastest-growing city from 2000 to 2003 and again in 2006, though it still ranked highly after that.

Lake Conroe, Texas (Flickr user/ Michael Biggs)
Lake Conroe, Texas (Flickr user/ Michael Biggs)

6. Conroe, Texas
Population: 65,871
Growth over the past year: 5.2 percent

A far-flung suburb of Houston, Conroe's population has nearly doubled since 2000. The growth continues as Houston, and Texas in general, continues to sprawl out.

South Jordan, Utah (Flickr user/ Jeremy Taylor)
South Jordan, Utah (Flickr user/ Jeremy Taylor)

5. South Jordan, Utah
Population: 62,781
Growth over the past year: 5.7 percent

South Jordan has frequently appeared on the fastest-growing list. A suburb of Salt Lake City, South Jordan is between the Oquirrh Mountains and the Wasatch Mountains, giving residents pretty spectacular views. The city has been growing for years, and the population has more than doubled since 2000.

Frisco, Texas (Creative Commons/ Rainchill)
Frisco, Texas (Creative Commons/ Rainchill)

4. Frisco, Texas
Population: 145,035
Growth over the past year: 5.8 percent

Along with McKinney, the population growth in Frisco is fed by the population and economic growth of Dallas. The city has actually had some trouble keeping up with the mounting growth (it opened four new high schools in four years, according to the Dallas Morning News), and there's no signs of it slowing yet.

Carnival Cruise Lines is headquartered in Doral, Florida (Creative Commons/ Magnus Manske)
Carnival Cruise Lines is headquartered in Doral, Florida (Creative Commons/ Magnus Manske)

3. Doral, Florida
Population: 54,116
Growth over the past year: 7.0 percent

And now for something entirely different: Doral, Florida. The Miami suburb, located just west of the Miami International Airport, has grown rapidly in the past 15 years, so much so that when the numbers came into the Census Bureau in 2010 it actually surprised estimates.

Downtown Georgetown, Texas (Flickr user/ Jimmy Emerson)
Downtown Georgetown, Texas (Flickr user/ Jimmy Emerson)

2. Georgetown, Texas
Population: 59,102
Growth over the past year: 7.6 percent

Georgetown's growth is riding on the back of the overall growth in the Austin metro area. The far-north suburb is known for its historic Victorian-area architecture and has an annual Red Poppy Festival that speaks to the unique character of the town. Its population has doubled since 2000.

Texas State University campus in San Marcos, Texas (Creative Commons/ Shane Torgerson)
Texas State University campus in San Marcos, Texas (Creative Commons/ Shane Torgerson)

1. San Marcos, Texas
Population: 58,892
Growth over the past year: 7.9 percent

About an hour away from San Antonio and Austin (though it's technically considered part of the Austin metropolitan area), San Marcos saw the largest growth rate of any city last year. This is the third time San Marcos has topped the list, boosted by a booming student population at Texas State University, and a growing, lively downtown that pulls in people looking for cheap real estate without sacrificing the amenities of the big cities, the Austin American-Statesman wrote last year.

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