The 10 fastest-growing boomtowns in the U.S. for job prospects, GDP growth, and household income

If you're thinking of moving, "make sure to visit the place first and ensure that you like it."


Although many cities are still struggling with high unemployment and low economic growth during Covid, other cities are flourishing.

SmartAsset analyzed the most recent data for 500 of the largest cities, including population change, unemployment rate, change in unemployment rate, GDP growth rate, business growth, housing growth, and change in household income, to find the places where the outlook is rosy.

Cities in Washington State dominate the list, with three in the top 10. Vancouver, for instance, ranks well for its growing number of businesses and housing options. Bellingham stands out in terms of five-year population change and average yearly GDP growth. And Seattle ranks in the top 10% of cities for five-year population change, the number of new housing units, and median household income increased growth.

Based on the data, here are the top 10 boomtowns in the U.S.

10. Seattle, Washington

5-year population change: 11.84%
Average yearly GDP growth: 7.02%
5-year change in number of establishments: 8.12%
5-year housing growth rate: 14.64%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 4.8%
Total score: 91.6

9. Bellingham, Washington

5-year population change: 9.95%
Average yearly GDP growth: 8.25%
5-year change in number of establishments: 8.9%
5-year housing growth rate: 10.87%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 5.2%
Total score: 91.67

8. Vancouver, Washington

5-year population change: 5.45%
Average yearly GDP growth: 6.06%
5-year change in number of establishments: 16.36%
5-year housing growth rate: 11.8%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 4.8%
Total score: 92.12

7. Tempe, Arizona

5-year population change: 11.88%
Average yearly GDP growth: 3.77%
5-year change in number of establishments: 11.96%
5-year housing growth rate: 17.34%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 4.7%
Total score: 92.34

6. Bend, Oregon

5-year population change: 18%
Average yearly GDP growth: 5.35%
5-year change in number of establishments: 22.51%
5-year housing growth rate: 20.47%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 4.4%
Total score: 93.78

5. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

5-year population change: 13.53%
Average yearly GDP growth: 3.3%
5-year change in number of establishments:16.5%
5-year housing growth rate: 18.65%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 3.8%
Total score: 95.45

3. Conroe, Texas (Tie)

5-year population change: 26.03%
Average yearly GDP growth: 8.67%
5-year change in number of establishments: 20.36%
5-year housing growth rate: 36.69%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 5.5%
Total score: 97.56

3. Meridian, Idaho (Tie)

5-year population change: 31.4%
Average yearly GDP growth: 5.5%
5-year change in number of establishments: 18.24%
5-year housing growth rate: 27.52%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 2.5%
Total score: 97.56

2. Nampa, Idaho

5-year population change: 15.2%
Average yearly GDP growth: 6.27%
5-year change in number of establishments: 28.53%
5-year housing growth rate: 13.82%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 3%
Total score: 99.54

1. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

5-year population change: 19.62%
Average yearly GDP growth: 3.71%
5-year change in number of establishments: 15.95%
5-year housing growth rate: 21.15%
August 2021 unemployment rate: 3.4%
Total score: 100

Six of the top 10 boomtowns are in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, according to the study. From 2014 to 2019, the total number of new homes built grew between 8% and 10% in Bend, Oregon, Vancouver, Bellingham, and Seattle.

Close to half of the cities on the list overall are back to full employment.

Want to relocate? 'The best thing you can do is build a budget'

If you're planning to relocate for better income prospects, or another financial reason, experts advise stashing away a bit of money at a time until you reach your goal.

"The best thing you can do is build a budget," says Ann Martin, director of operations of CreditDonkey. If not, "you'll get blindsided by all sorts of costs along the way."

Coronavirus: How the pandemic is affecting renters and homebuyers

Video by Richard Washington

Take a month to really look at where you are spending your money, adds realtor Tony Mariotti, the CEO of RubyHome. "Then start cutting accordingly. You know you can't change fixed costs like housing, but you may be able to shave some dollars from grocery bills or weekend vacations."

Take those "chunks of money and squirrel them away before they ever hit your checking account, redirect that money straight into a saving account."

"Don't move unless you have a job lined up," Martin adds. "I know it's tempting to move now and work out details later, but that can work out pretty badly if the job hunt takes longer than expected. Also, make sure to visit the place first and ensure that you like it."

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