According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 73 percent of the nation’s counties lost population in 2021. Fewer births, more deaths and more people moving out than moving in combined to put almost three-fourths of the country’s counties in the red.
If you live around Fredericksburg, this fact might startle you. Shrinkage? Not in our neighborhood.
There are 133 localities in Virginia—95 counties and 38 independent cities.
Among those 133, three of the top 10 for population growth are in the Fredericksburg area, known demographically as the George Washington Region. King George, with a growth rate of 28.7 per 1,000 residents, is fourth. Spotsylvania (26.0) is seventh. Stafford (25.2) is ninth. Caroline (14.4) and Fredericksburg itself (13.8) are 26th and 27th, respectively, putting them in or near the top fifth, growth-wise.
As with the rest of the country, Virginia is a state of disparities.
Almost half those 133 localities had no population growth or population loss. In the Southside and in Southwest Virginia, counties continue to shrink.
Sitting on the outer edge of the Washington metro area, we have the best of both worlds.
We’re far enough from D.C.’s congestion to preserve sanity, but close enough to commute to high-paying jobs. (Well, the I-95 commuting part might not preserve much sanity, but at least you have the option of going north to work or finding a way to make a living around the ’Burg.)
Kiplinger did a story last year on what it called the 10 “real” richest counties in the U.S. There are places with high incomes without the “heavy cost pressures that usually come with them.” In other words, places where your mortgage and taxes don’t eat up your big salary.
Fairfax and Prince William counties were in the top 10, and Loudoun was No. 1, but No. 2 in the nation was Stafford County.
Living here, Fredericksburg seems like the hub of the area including Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George, a region approaching a combined population of 400,000.
But to the people who define metropolitan statistical areas, Stafford and Spotsy are part of the Washington metro area while Caroline is part of Richmond’s MSA and King George is on its own.
Thus, our area often flies under the radar in terms of national recognition. When it comes to livability, though, it’s pretty obvious that people are discovering what a desirable location this is.
The numbers don’t lie. Either the Fredericksburg area is a magnet for people seeking a pleasant and affordable life, or we’re making babies faster than our peers.
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