Fastest Growing Cities In North Carolina For 2020

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

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the fastest growing cities in North Carolina.

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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 Walke and Ayden, 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 2020 according to the most recent census data:

What's the fastest growing city in North Carolina for 2020? 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 2020

Rolesville, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,957
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Population 2010: 3,289
Percent Growth 111.5%
Absolute Growth: 3,668
More on Rolesville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Rolesville is a town and suburb in northeastern Wake County, North Carolina, United States, just outside the capital city of Raleigh. It is the second oldest town in Wake County and has been one of the fastest growing towns in the state of North Carolina for the past several years. The population was 6,074 in 2015.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,133
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Population 2010: 2,790
Percent Growth 84.0%
Absolute Growth: 2,343
More on St. James: Homes For Sale | Data

Waxhaw, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 14,383
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Population 2010: 8,754
Percent Growth 64.3%
Absolute Growth: 5,629
More on Waxhaw: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Waxhaw is a town located in Union County, North Carolina. The population was 9,859 according to the 2010 Census.

Leland, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,157
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Population 2010: 11,925
Percent Growth 60.6%
Absolute Growth: 7,232
More on Leland: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Leland is a town in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 13,527 at the 2010 census, up from 1,938 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area. A number of movies, such as Maximum Overdrive, Domestic Disturbance, and We're the Millers have been shot in or around Leland.

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 25,932
Rank Last Year: 135 (Up 130)
Population 2010: 16,152
Percent Growth 60.5%
Absolute Growth: 9,780
More on Fuquay-Varina: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Fuquay-Varina is a town in Wake County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 18,644 in 2012. The population was 17,937 at the 2010 census, up from 7,898 at the 2000 census. The town is a 25-minute drive south of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. The hyphenated name attests to the town's history as two separate towns. Fuquay Springs and Varina merged in 1963 to create the modern town. Economically, the town initially grew due to tobacco trade and agriculture, but has seen recent population growth and real estate development due to its proximity to Research Triangle Park.

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 25,007
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Population 2010: 16,147
Percent Growth 54.9%
Absolute Growth: 8,860
More on Morrisville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Morrisville is a town located in both Wake and Durham counties of the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 18,576 at the 2010 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the town's population to be 21,932 as of July 1, 2013. Morrisville is part of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional name originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located midway between the cities of Raleigh and Durham. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area of Raleigh-Durham-Cary. The estimated population of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA was 1,565,223 as of July 1, 2006, with the Raleigh-Cary Metropolitan Statistical Area portion estimated at 994,551 residents. The U.S. headquarters of Chinese multinational Lenovo are located in the municipal limits.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 33,341
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Population 2010: 21,968
Percent Growth 51.8%
Absolute Growth: 11,373
More on Holly Springs: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Holly Springs is a town in Wake County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 24,661, over 2 times its population in 2000.

Wake Forest, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 40,159
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Population 2010: 26,790
Percent Growth 49.9%
Absolute Growth: 13,369
More on Wake Forest: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Wake Forest is a town in Franklin and Wake counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina; located almost entirely in Wake County, it lies just north of the state capital, Raleigh. The population was 30,117 at the 2010 census, up from 12,588 at the 2000 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the city's population to be 34,752 as of July 1, 2013. In 2007, the town was listed by Forbes magazine as the 20th fastest growing suburb in America, with a 73.2 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2006. Wake Forest was the original home of Wake Forest University for 122 years before it moved to Winston-Salem in 1956.

Harrisburg, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,269
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Population 2010: 10,328
Percent Growth 47.8%
Absolute Growth: 4,941
More on Harrisburg: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Mebane, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,198
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Population 2010: 10,401
Percent Growth 46.1%
Absolute Growth: 4,797
More on Mebane: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Mebane is a city located mostly in Alamance County, North Carolina, United States, and partly in Orange County, North Carolina. The town was named for Alexander Mebane, an American Revolutionary War general and member of the U.S. Congress. It was incorporated as "Mebanesville" in 1881, and in 1883 the name was changed to "Mebane". It was incorporated as a city in 1987. The population as of the 2010 census was 11,393. Mebane is one of the fastest growing municipalities in North Carolina.

How We Measured The Fastest Growing Cities In the Tar Heel State for 2020

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 136 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 2020

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 2020

Rank City Growth Population Population 2010
1 Rolesville 111.5% 6,957 3,289
2 St. James 84.0% 5,133 2,790
3 Waxhaw 64.3% 14,383 8,754
4 Leland 60.6% 19,157 11,925
5 Fuquay-Varina 60.5% 25,932 16,152
6 Morrisville 54.9% 25,007 16,147
7 Holly Springs 51.8% 33,341 21,968
8 Wake Forest 49.9% 40,159 26,790
9 Harrisburg 47.8% 15,269 10,328
10 Mebane 46.1% 15,198 10,401

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.