The 10 Fastest Growing Cities In North Carolina For 2021

We used data and science to determine the places in North Carolina everyone wants to move to today.

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the fastest growing cities in North Carolina.

Is being in an area that's growing quickly a good thing or a bad thing?

Depends on who you ask. Some want bigger, more exciting cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, while others want peace and quiet like in Erwin and Walke, thank you very much.

But today we're going to put opinions aside and just look at the cold hard facts -- over the past five years, which cities in North Carolina have the grown the fastest.

After getting knee deep in the Census's American Community Survey, we emerged with this set of cities in the Tar Heel State that have people climbing over each other to get in.

These are the 10 fastest growing cities in North Carolina for 2021 according to the most recent census data:

The 10 Fastest Growing Cities In North Carolina For 2021

  1. Rolesville
  2. St. James
  3. Waxhaw
  4. Leland
  5. Fuquay-Varina
  6. Morrisville
  7. Holly Springs
  8. Wake Forest
  9. Harrisburg
  10. Knightdale

What's the fastest growing city in North Carolina for 2021? Based on the most recent ACS data, Rolesville ranks as the fastest growing city in North Carolina. If you happen to be a resident of Rolesville, you're probably not too surprised to find it on our list.

If you're surprised--and you're wondering why these places are kind of a big deal--keep reading. We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 places in North Carolina are growing like weeds.

And if you already knew these places were happening, check out the best places to live in North Carolina or the Fastest Growing States In America.

For more North Carolina state reading:

The 10 Fastest Growing Cities In North Carolina For 2021

1. Rolesville

Rolesville, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,488
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Population 2010: 3,289
Percent Growth 127.7%
Absolute Growth: 4,199
More on Rolesville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

2. St. James

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,521
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Population 2010: 2,790
Percent Growth 97.9%
Absolute Growth: 2,731
More on St. James: Homes For Sale | Data

3. Waxhaw

Waxhaw, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,237
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Population 2010: 8,754
Percent Growth 74.1%
Absolute Growth: 6,483
More on Waxhaw: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

4. Leland

Leland, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,294
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Population 2010: 11,925
Percent Growth 70.2%
Absolute Growth: 8,369
More on Leland: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

5. Fuquay-Varina

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 27,426
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Population 2010: 16,152
Percent Growth 69.8%
Absolute Growth: 11,274
More on Fuquay-Varina: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

6. Morrisville

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 26,280
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Population 2010: 16,147
Percent Growth 62.8%
Absolute Growth: 10,133
More on Morrisville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

7. Holly Springs

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 34,874
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Population 2010: 21,968
Percent Growth 58.7%
Absolute Growth: 12,906
More on Holly Springs: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

8. Wake Forest

Wake Forest, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 42,111
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Population 2010: 26,790
Percent Growth 57.2%
Absolute Growth: 15,321
More on Wake Forest: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

9. Harrisburg

Harrisburg, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,806
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Population 2010: 10,328
Percent Growth 53.0%
Absolute Growth: 5,478
More on Harrisburg: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

10. Knightdale

Knightdale, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 16,001
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Population 2010: 10,477
Percent Growth 52.7%
Absolute Growth: 5,524
More on Knightdale: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

How We Measured The Fastest Growing Cities In the Tar Heel State for 2021

To figure out which cities are growing the most, we simply had to look at the growth rates for cities sine the beginning of the decade, according to the American Community Survey put out by the census every year. Specifically:

  • Current Population
  • Population in 2010
  • Growth rate from 2010 to Current (The latest available data which came out in Dec 2018)

We ranked all 137 North Carolina cities with a population over 5,000 people from highest growth rate to lowest.

The city with the highest growth rate during this time was crowned the fastest growing city in the Tar Heel State.

And for those of you who are a little rusty with their statistics, you can calculate the growth rate by the following formula:

[Current Population - Population 2010] / [Population 2010]

Here's a graph of the cities in North Carolina with the largest percent increase in population:
Fastest Growing Cities in North Carolina Graph For 2021

Click to enlarge

These Places Grew Up So Fast In North Carolina, You Know?

So there you have it, the fastest growing cities in North Carolina are led by Rolesville which has been growing at a blistering pace this decade relative to other cities and towns around the state.

It'll be interesting to see if these places can keep growing at the same rate over the next couple of years. We'll be here to let you know!

These places have been growing (or shrinking) the slowest (fastest):

  1. Wadesboro
  2. Kinston
  3. Roanoke Rapids

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of Fastest Growing Places In North Carolina For 2021

Rank City Growth Population Population 2010
1 Rolesville 127.7% 7,488 3,289
2 St. James 97.9% 5,521 2,790
3 Waxhaw 74.1% 15,237 8,754
4 Leland 70.2% 20,294 11,925
5 Fuquay-Varina 69.8% 27,426 16,152
6 Morrisville 62.8% 26,280 16,147
7 Holly Springs 58.7% 34,874 21,968
8 Wake Forest 57.2% 42,111 26,790
9 Harrisburg 53.0% 15,806 10,328
10 Knightdale 52.7% 16,001 10,477

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.