Dallas-Fort Worth Fastest Growing U.S. Metro Area, Says Census Bureau

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Moon over Fort Worth, Texas, the fastest growing US Metro AreaWe must have something in North Texas that people want; they are all moving here. The U.S. Census bureau reports that Dallas-Fort Worth was the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. in the past decade.

We added a whopping 1.3 million people, which is a 25 percent increase over the year 2000.

We are holding tight as the nation's fourth largest metro area, and all we have to do is add about 3 million more people and we will match Chicago, my hometown, and the nation's third largest metro area: They've got 9.6 million to our 6.5 million.

Where are these people coming from?

According to Forbes, from the West Coast, the East Coast, Florida, Detroit and Chicago. (Looking at the chart, poor Detroit seems to be bleeding residents.)

The metro area with the highest percentage increase in growth distinction was given to Florida's Palm Coast, whose population exploded by 84 percent over the past nine-years-plus. The population totaled about 92,000 and consists of senior citizens moving there to retire. Growth must have come from their children moving back home, because here's the downer: The area had a 15 percent unemployment rate in April, and being located in one of the four "bad-boy" states for real estate, Palm Coast property values have decreased significantly from Florida's boom years.

Dallas home prices have remained fairly steady and when it arrives, we will lead the housing rebound. Looking at the Case-Shiller Index, Miami's homes appreciated about 180 percent during the boom, maybe more. Dallas homes saw a mere 26 percent climb during the steroid years. In Texas, consumers are also limited to the amount that they can borrow against their homestead, which acted as a sort of financial safety net for many.

Except for a few hot spots, our prices never bubbled up and thus remained within normal grasp. An average home can be purchased in Dallas for about $180,000. Want pricey Park Cities or Preston Hollow? You're looking at $750,000 and up. But great homes can be found in other neighborhoods, ranging from $197,000 in East Dallas to $67,000 in Oak Cliff/Kessler Park. Go north for more square footage, newer construction and softer prices: $185,000. And downtown Dallas is finally acquiring residents: While 130,000 work downtown, 30,000 now live downtown and that number is expected to almost double. Eight-five percent of downtown Dallas residents lease, 15 percent own condos.

Why is Dallas so darn attractive when it's so hot, climate-wise (100 degrees today, thank you) doesn't even have a ocean, or a mountain range, unless you count a four-hour drive to the Texas Hill Country? Oh and we have the highest property taxes in the country. Like many municipalities, Dallas is dealing with a serious budget shortfall and is arguing over raising taxes and eliminating services.

Business, jobs, affordability. City officials say we don't need a water port because we have Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which is larger than the island of Manhattan, and provides quick connection with the entire U.S. as well as Latin America. I know of a family who live in Austin because it's cheaper for them to house and educate their children there -- he commutes to Wall Street. One Dallas DJ even commuted daily to Chicago on American Airlines, which is headquartered here.

Texas in general has a business-friendly climate -- no unions, no state or corporate income taxes, affordable housing and we don't strangle people with regulations. And we have jobs, which usually lead to people buying houses.

Did you know that the GDP of Texas is performing better than the U.S. GDP? From 2001 to 2008, Dallas and Houston provided 5 percent of the entire U.S. GDP. We're doing better on jobs, too -- losing jobs at a 2.5 percent rate instead of 5 percent, according to Dr. James Gaines, a research economist at Texas A&M University. We added 300,000 jobs from 2004 to 2007, then lost about 90,000 after 2008. But we're still in the black on those numbers.

We are not the only expanding metro area. Basically, it's all about the South and West. Atlanta added more than 1.2 million people; rival Houston grew by 1.15 million. Raleigh, N.C.'s population jumped 41 percent.

Everyone must be jumping on those Arizona foreclosures, because despite the new immigration law, Phoenix recorded a 1.11 million-person increase, and 900,000 more people moved to Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

The mountain states are also gaining: St. George, Utah, 52 percent growth; Provo, Utah, 47 percent growth; Greeley, Colo., 41 percent growth.

The old adage still holds true: Go West, young man. Or maybe just Southwest.

See homes for sale in Dallas-Fort Worth at AOL Real Estate.

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