Florida’s retirement hub, The Villages, claimed title to being the fastest-growing U.S. metropolitan area by percent population increase for a fourth year in a row, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. While one might imagine that youth migration would fuel population growth, it turns out that seniors 65 and above are more often the driving force.
That’s not so surprising, considering the country’s rapidly aging population. A 2015 Census Bureau study, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, projected that the 65+ population would increase to 24% by 2060, up from 15% in 2014. Four of the top five fastest growing metros had senior populations of more than 15% – sometimes quite a bit more.
Metropolitan areas saw a 2.3 million increase in their population between 2015 and 2016. Nearly 86% of Americans – 277.1 million, to be precise – live in just 382 of them. But areas with the biggest population increases weren't necessarily big cities, as we'll see. Cities in the Sunshine State grabbed 40% or 10 of the 25 spots on the list, followed by Utah, which has three metros on the list. Here are the top five.
The Villages, Fla.
A community that spreads over 547 square miles, The Villages actively markets itself as a 55+ Active Adult Retirement Community and boasts of close to 42 golf courses in its vicinity according to Bloomberg. It offers homes and amenities at a wide range of prices, including a monthly community expense of, for example, $993 for a home priced at $250,000.
Its population in 2016 was a little over 123,000, an increase of 5,114 people or 4.3% over the previous year. 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) data shows that the median age for the area is 66.5 and that 55% of the 2015 population was over 65.
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, N.C.– S.C.
This metro area is at the cusp of two states, spans two counties and encompasses over 1,980 square miles. Its total population in 2016 was nearly 450,000, 3.9% larger (by over 16,000 people) than the previous year, putting it in the second spot.
Though the most predominant population in the area is the age group between 18 and 64, the Myrtle Beach area is a popular retirement destination, too. There's a good choice of retirement communities – some strictly for those 55 years and up, and others open to 50-year-olds. According to the ACS data, 23% of the population of the area was people 65 years or older.
At 3,018 square miles, this area is larger than both previous metro areas, but has just 58 people per square mile. Its 2016 population stands at 181,300, 3.6% or 6,365 higher than the previous year. The primary reason: nearly 5,700 Americans who moved there during the period.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, management, sales and administrative support are the most popular jobs in the area and earn a median household income of $57,373. Nearly 60% of its population falls with the age range of 18-64, but a significant numbers are also retirees. Nearly a fifth (19%) of the people living in the area are 65 years or older, which is 20% higher than the state average for Oregon.
One of the first things that comes to mind when you talk about this northern Colorado town is the Brazilian food giant JBS’ enormous meat-packing plant. But that’s not all that this area is all about. It is also famous for its craft breweries, which are getting extremely popular. Greeley is an affluent city, with a median household income at an impressive $70,256, almost 25% higher than the national average, according to the ACS.
In 2016, Greeley’s population stood at a little less than 250,000, an increase of 3.5% from 2015 and driven by 7,300 in domestic migration. It is a predominantly white community according to the 2015 ACS data, and 62% of residents fall in the 18-64 year category. At 11%, those above 65 years are a lower percentage than the other areas on the list, but close enough to the Colorado average of 13%.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
This is the biggest area by population in the top five, with more than 722,000 people living there in 2016. This area saw huge in-migration; over 17,000 domestic and more than 3,000 international migrants moved there last year.
Age distribution of the area reveals that people 18-64 years comprise the largest chunk of the population; 27% of the total population is 65 years and above. The median age for the area stands at 47.5.