Six High-Growth Metros to Watch

A few might surprise you.

If you’re thinking about moving to a fast-growing city, you might make a few assumptions about what it will be like. There will be lots of jobs. There will be plenty to do. And it will be super expensive.

In some places that’s completely true. But not all cities grow in the same way—meaning some high-growth metros are way more affordable than others. We dug into the data around jobs, population, development, and home values across the U.S., and we found that in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis, different parts of the U.S. have recovered very differently.

For one thing, between 2012-2017, rural, non-metropolitan counties saw population declines of 1 percent while the largest 100 metro areas grew by 4.8 percent. The result is that rural areas have stagnated in terms of jobs and home values. In the growing metro areas, it’s not just a whole different story, but two different stories. That’s because when more people move in, cities either make room for them, or they don’t. If new housing developments can’t keep up with population growth, the laws of supply and demand kick in—and home prices skyrocket. In places where new apartments, condos, and housing developments can absorb the growth, residents enjoy a little more affordability, even as the housing market strengthens. To learn more about these trends, check out our full report.

Interested in how these trends affect homes and neighborhoods in some of the most popular U.S. cities? We checked out six high-growth cities to see how development is affecting affordability in each.

Thinking of making a strategic move to the bustling city? These metro areas are experiencing the largest growth in jobs, housing values, and population.

  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 5.3 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 14.5 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 2.13
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 122.7 percent

The heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to Cisco, eBay, Adobe, PayPal, and countless startups. With all the tech money floating around, you really have to look hard to find a good deal on a home—or, you can just go to the North Valley neighborhood. Now, affordability is relative in a city where the median home sales price is a cool $1,050,000. But in North Valley, you can find homes for less than $300,000 in a modern manufactured home community. Though parts of North Valley are walkable, 75 percent of locals say that a car is needed. After a long day of work, you might enjoy the fact that this is a diverse neighborhood with even more diverse food options, covering a wide range of cuisines from Cambodian fare to New York-style pizza.

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  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 10.4 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 14.2 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 2.99
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 114.2 percent

Lately, what happens in Las Vegas is that people stay in Las Vegas. The biggest employers are, unsurprisingly, in the casino and hospitality sector. But the success of Zappos has inspired smaller tech company to try out this desert city. So go ahead, take a gamble on a new venture here.

If you’re looking to settle down, locals speak highly of Paradise, a neighborhood south of the famous Strip. It’s a neighborhood that covers a lot of ground, physically and financially: Prices range from under $100,000 for a condo to $9,800,000 for a two-story penthouse. Eighty-seven percent of residents agree you’ll need a car here, because really, who wants to hike in desert temps? But you may find yourself so comfortable in Paradise that you won’t bother driving to the Strip much anyway. “This neighborhood is like a different world,” says one local on Trulia’s What Locals Say feature. “It feels cozier than the rest of Las Vegas. Grassy front yards, aged trees, green parks, and plenty of friendly neighbors.”

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  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 6.6 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 11.9 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 3.81
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 108.4 percent

Though prices have appreciated in Oakland, the median sales price of $750,000 is still far lower than San Francisco’s median sales price of $1,350,000. And even more affordable housing is available if you are okay being a bit farther away from the heart of the city. Like in San Jose, a bargain is relative in Oakland, but in the Elmhurst Park neighborhood, the median price is $465,000. Though 94 percent report that a car is needed in Elmhurst Park, at least know that your local takeout options are pretty great, with a high number of crowd-pleasing Mexican restaurants.

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If you’re looking for both opportunity and affordability, you’re in luck. These growing metro areas have more modest home value appreciation and a friendlier new people-to-permit ratio.

  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 12.3 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 18 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 1.78
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 37.8 percent

The demographics of Raleigh seem more in line with a suburb than a city. Sixty-seven percent of residents are homeowners, only 37 percent are single, and 98 percent commute to work by car. However, if you’re expecting strip malls galore, you will be pleasantly surprised by Raleigh’s urban core.

Living close to downtown is an option in Raleigh, an affordable city with a median sales price of $265,000. But just south of downtown is the Central neighborhood, where you’ll find homes that start at $99,000 all the way through $1,500,000. Here, you’re in a prime position to walk (or take a drive) to breweries, cultural institutions, and maybe even work. Yet, there’s a strong sense of community here, with 86 percent of locals highlighting Central’s holiday spirit. “Blissful neighborhood,” says a local on What Locals Say. “Church bells, schools, people walking. I love it. I hope I never leave. Perfect distance to downtown and perfect distance from it.”

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  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 10.1 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 18.6 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 1.95
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 48.3 percent

If you’re interested in jobs in the banking, financial, and construction fields, Charlotte could be the perfect fit for you. In this city, new skyscrapers are transforming the skyline at a fast pace downtown—which is actually called Uptown, by the way. If you’re set on the city experience, check out the Uptown neighborhood of Fourth Ward, where prices start at $150,000, which is lower than adjourning neighborhoods. Though centrally located, Fourth Ward isn’t all concrete and steel. “Love the green spaces that balance the concrete and surface parking,” says one resident on What Locals Say. Ninety-nine percent of locals say that it’s within walking distance to restaurants, though feel free to bring a car (86 percent say parking is easy) for this huge city of 300 square miles.

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  • Population Growth (2012-2017): 15.3 percent
  • Employment Growth (2012-2017): 20.5 percent
  • New People Per Permit Issued: 1.99
  • Home Value Appreciation (2012-2018): 57.2 percent

Though this trendy city continues to attract new residents at a very high rate, there’s ample land to build on in Austin, and construction crews are constantly at work. The impressive job growth can also be attributed to new offices by established tech companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Facebook, 3M, and many, many (many) more.

The main attraction is Downtown Austin, but proximity to music clubs and trendy cafes can cost you big: The average listing price is $500,000, and the median rent is $6,000. Instead, head to North Loop, where you can find homes for under Austin’s median sales price of $513,354. You’ll get a real neighborhood feel here, too, with 99 percent of locals describing North Loop as dog-friendly, 97 percent saying parking is easy, and 96 percent agreeing that restaurants are walkable. The setting is also unique to other parts of Austin: “The houses are a mix of Old Austin and new houses being built,” says a local on What Locals Say. “It is easy to get onto MoPac and just eight minutes away from the city. The area is heavily wooded and filled with deer.”

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Imagining yourself in another metro or rural area? Check out how home prices compare here on Trulia.

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