A map of population changes in Alachua County. Courtesy to The Alligator.
Kristen Thompson can’t find her mother a permanent home.
For six years, Thompson has sold countless houses in Gainesville as a real estate agent. However, she struggles to find a low-cost place in the city that accommodates her mother’s disability, which hinders her mobility and use of stairs.
Other clientele, including families, also have issues finding housing in the city’s limited space, Thompson said. It’s more costly, especially for first time homeowners.
Limited housing may become more of an issue for Thompson with the addition of 300,000 new Floridians this year, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Florida is ranked second in state numeric growth behind Texas and fifth in percentage of growth. The state’s population is expected to increase from 20.98 million to 21.3 million in 2019.
“I feel like our community is pretty transient in general,” Thompson said. “More people are buying right now, but I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a spike overall that’s unusual for the area.”
The new data covers national and state populations, said Stefan Rayer, the population program director at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Local estimates, including for the city of Gainesville, will be released in 2019.
Since 2010, Gainesville’s population grew 6.4 percent and Alachua County grew by 7.9 percent, according to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau report. In comparison to other Florida cities, Tallahassee grew by 5.4 percent and Orlando, a larger city, grew 17.4 percent.
The majority of people moving to Gainesville are young, single and looking to study at UF, Rayer said.
This year, Florida had the highest level of domestic migration in the country, with 132,602 people moving to the state, Rayer said. Florida is also home to 4.3 million foreign born residents, according to the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey conducted of the U.S. Census Bureau.
When recovering from the national recession in 2008, Florida had a dip in domestic migration, Rayer said. This tends to be more sensitive to economic conditions, but international rates have remained steady.
“The housing market also played a role,” Rayer said. “If you can’t sell your house, moving to another part of the country may not be an option.”
While the recession made it difficult for residents of other states to move to Florida, Thompson said that first time home buyers are currently struggling with finding affordable housing in Gainesville.
“Many of my first time home buyers want to be in Gainesville but can’t afford it,” Thompson said. “I have met with several first time buyers this year who have decided to put home buying on hold due to the expense.”