The 7 Fastest-Growing Towns in Alaska Everyone Is Talking About

Snow town Anchorage, Alaska, the United States of America is one of many people's dream to visit due to its scenery, culture, culinary.
© TripWalkers/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Published: October 14, 2023

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Alaska is the northernmost state in the United States, and it is also one of the least populous states in the country. According to the 2020 Census, only 733,378 people lived in the state. The estimated population in the state in 2022 showed a small increase to 733,783 people. Take a look at the fastest-growing towns in Alaska! Find out which parts of the state are growing, what is in those towns and cities, and why people may be moving to them.

The information for this article is derived from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 town population estimates. The next census will provide more data on the populated areas’ actual growth.

7. North Pole

Santa Clause Lane in the North Pole in Alaska

The city of North Pole is famous for having several Christmas-themed stores and decorations throughout the city.

©Erika Bisbocci/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
1305.79%

North Pole is a small city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The city is famous for having several Christmas-themed stores and decorations throughout the city, including a herd of reindeer. North Pole is roughly 10 miles southeast of Fairbanks along the Tanana River.  

The city of North Pole, Alaska had a standing population of 2,243 people in 2020. The population in this region rose by 5.79% or 130 people. The new population in 2020 was 2,373 people. Although this was the fastest-growing town with the smallest population gain, the percentage change was still significant. The population in this area is small, and it is not that likely to grow a great deal in the future.  

6. Houston

Houston. Alaska. USA on a geography map

Located just north of Anchorage, Houston saw a population gain of more than 7%.

©SevenMaps/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
1407.09%

Houston is another small city in Alaska, and this one is in Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the southern part of the state. This city is west of Wasilla and about 30 miles north of Anchorage. The town is known for being one of the first cities in the area to allow cannabis sales, bolstering the region’s tax revenue by over 30%.

The 2020 U.S. Census found that only 1,974 people were living in this area. Yet, the population of this city grew by 140 people over two years, a total gain of 7.09%. Again, this small city experienced a tiny gain of people, but the percentage change was still large because of the starting population’s size.

5. Soldotna

American bald eagle with wings spread and perched on branch against background of Alaskan Kenai region shoreline along Cook Inlet

Bald eagles are somewhat common in cities on the Kenai Peninsula.

©FloridaStock/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
1784.10%

Soldotna is a small city in Kenai Peninsula Borough, an area in the southern part of Alaska. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stretches to the south and east of the city, and Alaska Route 1 runs through the city. The city is about 65 miles southwest of Anchorage.

In 2020, Soldotna had a population of 4,340 people. The population in this city grew over the next two years, reaching 4,518 residents, a positive change of 4.10%. Like some of the other fastest-growing towns in Alaska, Soldotna’s population increased by fewer than 200 people. This small growth shows just how few towns in Alaska experienced a population increase.

4. Kenai               

View of the Cook Inlet in Alaska with Mount Iliamna in the background

The city of Kenai is located along the Cook Inlet.

©jet 67/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
2353.16%

Kenai is just a few miles northwest of Soldotna. This coastal city is located along the Cook Inlet at the mouth of the Kenai River.  

The population in Kenai in 2020 was 7,418, a moderately sized city for The Last Frontier. Kenai’s population rose over the next two years. In 2022, the population of this city became 7,653. That means the population rose by 235 people, a total of 3.16%.

3. Homer

Aerial View of Homer, Alaska during Summer

With an estimated population of 5,876 in 2022, Homer has experienced a 6.39% population increase.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
3536.39%

Homer is a city on the Kenai Peninsula, southwest of both Kenai and Soldotna. The city was built along Kachemak Bay, and it is known for being one of the best places in the world to catch halibut.

Homer is another medium-sized city in Alaska, and it had 5,523 people living in its borders in 2020. The population of this region continued to rise over the next two years. The estimated 2022 population in this city was 5,876, an increase of 353 people and a population shift of 6.39%.

2. Palmer

Aerial View of Downtown Palmer, Alaska during Summer

The population of Palmer was 6,304 in July 2022, an increase of 427 people since 2020.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
4277.26%

Palmer is in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska, and it is along the Matanuska River. This city is about 20 miles to the east of Houston. This city is known for being the home of the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Palmer had a population of 5,877 people in the city in 2020. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates, another 427 people moved to the area between 2020 and 2022. The population grew by 427 people, reaching 6,304 in July 2022. That is an increase of 7.26%, the largest percentage increase in the state.

1. Wasilla

Aerial View of Downtown Wasilla, Alaska during the Summer

Wasilla is the fastest-growing city in Alaska between 2020 and 2022.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

Population IncreasePercent Increase
6507.17%

Wasilla is a city located between two other cities on this list, Houston and Palmer. The city is in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and it has the fourth-highest population in the state.

Wasilla is the leader of the fastest-growing towns in Alaska. Wasilla is the place with the highest population on this list. In 2020, Wasilla had a population of 9,061. In 2022, the population in this area grew to 9,711. That means an additional 650 people moved to this area and the population increased by 7.17%

All in all, Alaskan towns and cities are not growing that fast. The state’s population is only growing a small amount, creeping forward as it has in recent decades. The state is remote, lacks the economic diversity and job market of other states, and has harsh weather. These elements make this area less desirable than other states with a low population and abundant natural areas.

Overall, it is not likely that the population in Alaska will explode in the coming years. However, the state’s population could continue to slowly grow as people re-examine their living situations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic tribulations that have recently emerged.

Summary of the Fastest-Growing Towns in Alaska

RankTown or CityPopulation Increase
1.Wasilla650
2.Palmer427
3.Homer353
4.Kenai235
5.Soldotna178
6.Houston140
7.North Pole130


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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