Jacksonville among top 5 COVID-19 ‘boomtowns’ based on population growth, study shows

The online lending company LendingTree has placed Jacksonville among the top five “boomtowns” during the COVID-19 era.

That means the River City saw a huge wave of newcomers and of course, the housing market is still working to keep up with them.


Remote work, affordability, and of course, the Florida sunshine have all definitely made it possible for people across the country to look at houses under construction in Jacksonville and decide it’s where they’re going to settle down.

The study showed Jacksonville’s population actually jumped about 5% percent from 2019 to 2021 during the peak of COVID-19.

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“It was a big pushing point,” realtor Kelsey Ebarb-Rembold said.

Ebarb-Rembold said she considered moving from Chicago to Florida in 2020.

“Wanting to be in good weather constantly, not wanting to deal with the snow,” she said. “I think everyone’s drawn to Florida for weather! I think sunshine is a huge part of it.”

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In March 2021, she went through with it, after seeing what were then-low mortgage interest rates.

“We were able to find a home that fit our budget really well and our interest rate was perfect,” she said.

The study also shows almost 15% of people who live in Jacksonville have moved from another county, state, or country.

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Ebarb-Rembold said she’s noticed more newcomers are on the way, at a steady pace, which could stabilize mortgage interest rates.

“We could see the interest rate drop down in the next year or two and then people can refinance at that point,” Ebarb-Rembold said.

She said though rates may not be as low as they were before, they’re still affordable.

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“Now, we’re seeing a more realistic idea of what the market looks like,” Ebarb-Rembold said. “People just have to get used to seeing those 5s [percentage rates]. The national average is 9% - 8 to 9!”

“I suggest that anyone looking to stay in Florida, definitely take a peek at it,” she said.

Three cities in Florida made it to the top 10 COVID “boomtowns:” Jacksonville, Lakeland, and North Port.

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