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'It's blown up really fast' | Suburban growth helps shift Harris County's center of population outside the Loop for the first time

118% more people lived in the metro area outside of Houston’s city limits in 2020 than they did in 2000, according to a Kinder Institute report.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — New homes continue to crop up in Katy’s prairies and former rice fields.  

All signs point to explosive growth.

"It’s been crazy," said homeowner Michael Jozwiak. "It’s blown up really fast.”

Jozwiak and his family recently moved from Houston to a subdivision in the area.

"As soon as we had our daughter, we knew that we needed a little bit more space,” said Jozwiak.

Families like his are a big reason why Harris County’s center of population is shifting.

"The population center moved because people are moving," said Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research director Bill Fulton.

Fulton said data shows the county’s population center moved outside the 610 Loop for the first time.

It's now in the Oak Forest area thanks to growth much farther out pulling it up like a magnet.

"People who need bedrooms are moving outside the Loop," said Fulton. "People who live by themselves or just with their partner, no kids, are moving inside the Loop."  

"That means that more people are moving out than moving in.”

Fulton said that, despite brisk development inside the Loop, the population hasn’t really grown because housing units, such as townhomes or apartments, have fewer people living in them.

In fact, data shows that 118% more people lived in the metro area outside of Houston’s city limits in 2020 than they did in 2000.

"A lot of what’s happening is that families are getting pushed out of the Loop by price,” said Fulton.

The center of population may continue to shift as families seek things like affordability, safety and good schools.

"Really no reason to leave now that we’re out here,” said Jozwiak.

Click here to read the full Kinder Institute report.