Surprising State Named the Most ‘Popular’

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Movers unloading a moving van | XiXinXing/Getty Images

What state comes to mind when you think “most popular”? You may pick New York due to the Big Apple or maybe California because of its beautiful beaches. But when it comes to popular states, people tend to favor ones that are good places to raise a family. Here are the 15 most popular states, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, which tracks which ones have the highest population growth.

15. Tennessee

Sure, people move to Nashville to become country-music stars. But people also move to the Volunteer State for jobs, transfers, or to be closer to family. Most people move to Tennessee from other Southern states and other countries. The state had a population growth of 1% from 2016 to 2017, beginning our list of the most popular states in America.

14. Georgia

The population of Georgia grew by 1.1% from 2016 to 2017, with people specifically moving to the Atlanta metro area as opposed to other parts of the state. The job market in this city has lots of opportunities for college grads and entrepreneurs. Plus, Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta and employees 4,700 employees.

13. Montana

If you want to get away from city life, then Montana may be perfect. Its population grew by 1.1%, which is a lot when you consider that the state overall only passed the 1 million residents mark in 2012. Bozeman is a hot spot, with an active cultural scene, good schools, and gorgeous mountains.

12. North Carolina

With a population growth of 1.1%, North Carolina’s gorgeous weather, short commute, low unemployment rate, and lower cost of living all send people to North Carolina from more expensive Northern states, like New York. Ocean access and 300 miles of shoreline are perks for beach-lovers, too.

11. South Carolina

The Palmetto State grew at a rate of 1.3% from 2016 to 2017, largely due to people moving from northern states. In fact, South Carolina tops the list of Southern states with the most people moving there, based on a United Van Lines study.

10. Oregon

Part of Oregon’s growth — 1.4% from 2016 to 2017 — comes from people leaving California in search of a more affordable lifestyle. The growth definitely isn’t due to Oregonians having babies. In fact, the natural population has decreased in 20 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Still, nobody can deny Portland is a cool place to live, part of the reason why this state makes the top 10 fastest-growing.

9. Colorado

The Centennial State’s population has grown steadily since 2010 — and 1.4% from 2016 to 2017. A booming economy and thriving job market make Colorado appealing. Of course, the beautiful Rocky Mountains are an added perk for those who enjoy hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. And 300 days of annual sunshine doesn’t hurt either.

8. Washington, D.C.

Ok, Washington, D.C. isn’t a state, but it’s still on the census list with the highest increases in population. From 2016 to 2017, Washington, D.C. had a population growth of 1.4%. Steady government jobs are relatively recession-proof, making D.C. an ideal place for college grads and young adults.

7. Texas

The Lone Star State is popular for those relocating from high-cost areas in California and New York. It’s seventh on the list of most popular states, with a population growth of 1.4%. But, when it comes to popular U.S. cities, seven out of the 15 fastest-growing cities are in Texas. San Antonio is the fastest growing city; 66 new people move there every day. Yee Haw!

6. Arizona

With a population growth of 1.6% from 2016 to 2017, Arizona is famous for retirees seeking to settle down someplace warm. It’s ideal for those who don’t love the ocean (or hurricanes) but still want a warm climate. It’s also great for adventurous people who like hiking and mountain biking.

5. Florida

Sunny Florida has sandy beaches, hurricanes, and plenty of cities for snowbirds to say goodbye to winter once and for all. As the U.S. population continues to live longer than ever, we’ll likely see Florida on the list of most popular states for years to come. It grew by 1.6% from 2016 to 2017.

4. Washington

The Evergreen State is seeing a population boost due to many Californians seeking a lower cost of living. With major companies like Starbucks and Nordstrom headquartered in Seattle, it’s not surprising to see Washington high on the list. From 2016 to 2017, the population grew by 1.7%, making it the fourth most popular states.

3. Utah

This state’s population grew by 1.9% but not due to domestic migration. Rather, more people were born in Utah than died during the census year, according to Rogers. So, if you’re looking for a state where people live longer and have lots of babies, you may want to consider Utah.

2. Nevada

This state involves more than Las Vegas. From 2016 to 2017,  Nevada saw a 2% growth due to domestic migration. As the cost of living skyrockets in California, people are moving to the Sagebrush State for a cheaper lifestyle and lower taxes (Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax). The warm weather and easy access to summer and winter sports are also perks.

1. Idaho

Known for its Idaho potatoes, this state is also getting recognized as a great place to live. With a 2.2% growth from 2016 to 2017, Idaho has the largest population growth out of all 50 states. The reason? According to Chief of Population Estimates Luke Rogers, domestic migration played a major role in Idaho’s population increase.