According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Georgia is growing rapidly. In fact, our state boasted a total of 11 counties on the bureau’s list of the top 100 fastest-growing counties, putting us only behind the state of Texas in terms of number of counties on the list. However, what is surprising is that the top three counties in Georgia were not located in metro Atlanta, meaning that Georgia’s fastest growing housing markets may also be located outside the metro area.
Chattahoochee County was named the third-fastest growing county in the United States, growing by more than 15 percent from April 2010 to July 2012 and Long County was right behind at no.5 with a population increase of more than 11 percent in the same period.
The highest-ranking county from the metro Atlanta area was Forsyth County at no. 29 with a 7.1 percent growth rate. Also from the metro area were Fulton County at no. 43 and Gwinnett County at no. 83.
The remaining six Georgia counties on the list are mostly rural south Georgia counties. They include Charlton County at no. 11, Bryan at no. 37, Columbia County at no. 45, Lowndes County at no. 70, Muscogee at no. 90 and Houston County rounded out the list at no. 93.
What makes two rural Georgia counties located on opposite sides of the state rank so high on the list?
The answer lies in the fact that Georgia has not suffered as much from military base closures and spending cutbacks. Chattahoochee County, located just south of Columbus on the Alabama line, is home to Fort Benning. Because of realignment over the last few years, divisions have been relocated as Fort Benning took on the responsibilities of other closing bases. Located south of Savannah, Long County is near Fort Stewart, which is home to the Third Infantry Division. Charlton and Bryan Counties both have nearby bases as well, which serves as a reminder of how important military spending is in our state.
Another interesting fact about the fastest-growing county in Georgia is that Chattahoochee County also has the lowest proportion of people aged 65 and older of any county in the country with only 3.6 percent. There is a belief that the next wave of population growth in Georgia will be attributed to older adults, and the state has already endorsed that belief with generous tax breaks and other incentives to lure retirees to Georgia. With the recent upturn in the housing market and the booming growth of active adult communities in our state, it is not hard to imagine this belief becoming a reality.
All of this being said, Georgia has come a long way in the past three years. Our population, and thus our demand for housing, have been consistently growing due to a continued strong military presence despite the fact that this same period was tumultuous for the nation’s housing market.