America is the land of opportunities, and thousands move to the major cities of the country for better prospects, a better quality of life, and a better future for their families. As one of the world’s leading economies, it’s no wonder that the idea of living the American dream is engraved in the minds of most U.S. residents and those of the world.
With 50 states and land that’s larger than one can imagine, you definitely don’t have a shortage of options when it comes to picking where to live in the country. In the process of picking a place to live in, one of the highest googled parameters is population, since no one wants to live in a place that’s overcrowded beyond measure.
To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the largest states by population based on data by the U.S. Census Bureau. You’ve found the right article, since we’ve also added a bit more detail about living in these states!
List of the 7 Largest States by Population
Top 7 Largest States by Population in America
It comes as no surprise that the state of California has the highest population among all 50 U.S. states considering the mega metropolitan cities that it boasts of. And what’s the big number? It’s 39.5 million within an area of 163,696 square miles. This means that there are 253 people per square mile, which is an impressively large number. If we had to pinpoint these densely populated hot-spots, they’d be the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, Sacramento, and San Jose. When we look at the population trends in the state, since 2019, the growth has fallen to a minimum rate of 0.5%, which hasn’t happened since the year 1900.
There’s a reason California is the largest state according to population, and we think you know it already – opportunities. Also called The Golden State, California isn’t just called that for its sunny and golden climate, it’s also a golden state for opportunities of all kinds. From a booming job market that has the shining Silicon Valley to some of the best public schools and universities in the world, California has it all. While the crowd may be more, the state is a happening place, has great connectivity, and has successfully become the country’s biggest economy. But, with so many opportunities comes a very hefty price tag – the high cost of living and a competitive and expensive real estate market.
- Median price of homes for sale in California: $717,930
- Median rent per month in California: $1,945
See also: Moving to California
Always butting heads with California in every aspect, Texas has the second-highest population in the country, now standing at 28.9 million. As compared to California though, the density is not that high with 111 people per square mile, since the land is extremely vast. What you’ll also realize is that the population in Texas is clustered together like pockets in some bits, while vast areas of land remain sparsely populated. It goes without saying that these densely populated pockets include major cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. There’s something more unique about the population trends in Texas – the growth rate has been a steady 1.3% annually and has never dwindled, with more people migrating to the state than away.
One of the biggest reasons why the Lone Star State has been experiencing an influx of population over the last few years is its low cost of living. Apart from the highly attractive prospect of saving money, Texas is also quickly catching up to California when it comes to the job market, with the same number of Fortune 500 companies as the Golden State.
In 2019 itself, Texas had the second-highest GSP at $1.9 trillion. When it comes to the schooling system in Texas, it might not be top-ranked, but there are notable universities like the University of Austin. We can assure you that you will fall in love with the state’s landscape, climate, and cuisine. Wait, we can’t forget the affordability!
- Median price of homes for sale in Texas: $220,034
- Median rent per month in Texas: $1,100
See also: Moving to Texas
Standing third in terms of population in the United States, Florida has a population of 21.8 million. You might not expect this, but it also takes eighth place in terms of density of population, which is a shocking 400 people per square mile! The Sunshine State’s population trends show the growth has fluctuated between 1.5% to 1.7% annually, making it the fifth fastest-growing state in terms of population. As expected, cities are more densely populated some of which are Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.
We’ll tell you a little more about the Sunshine State and why the population growth rate is so high. It goes without saying that the biggest reason is the climate, the nickname gives it out after all. Secondly, the education system which ranks third in the United States with some of the best Universities for higher education. At the same time, if job opportunities are what you’re after, Florida has a ton of them, and we really mean it.
Not only is the state’s economy thriving, but so is the job market with jobs available for every kind of profession, and high salary packages. What you must note though is that the housing market in Florida is expensive, and while living in the suburbs is affordable, it’s the opposite when you have to live in a city.
- Median price of homes for sale in Florida: $270,000
- Median rent per month in Florida: $1,175
4. New York
The state where dreams are made and lives lived, we all dreamt of living in the state’s New York City which has the highest population in the world! So, it’s no wonder that the state itself has the fourth highest population in the country, standing at 19.3 million with 412 people per square mile. This also means that the state is the seventh densely populated state with a large cluster around New York City itself. Something that’s very different from the states we’ve listed till now is New York State’s population trends – instead of an increase, there has been a steady decrease in the population. Between 2019 and 2020 itself, the population had decreased by 0.63%.
While New York State is predominantly always associated with New York City, there’s much that the state has to offer apart from what’s in the city. By itself, New York state would stand as the 11th largest economy in the world if it were an independent country. While Wall Street and Silicon Alley are in New York City, the state’s tech space in the eastern part is also thriving. Even education in the state is top-notch with some of the best universities and liberal art schools in the world. Let’s get to the important part – we would say that the cost of living in the state is fairly affordable. But, there’s a catch – most people move to the Big Apple to stay in or around New York City, where the cost of living and the real estate market will poke holes through your wallet.
- Median price of homes for sale in New York State: $335,000
- Median rent per month in New York State: $1,465
Since the constitution was first drafted in the city of Philadelphia, the population saw a steep rise through the decades. Currently, with a population of 12.8 million, the state of Pennsylvania has around 286 people per square mile giving it ninth place in the most densely populated state list. While Pennsylvania’s population has been fluctuating, the last year saw a small decrease of 0.12% in the population. Major cities where you’ll find a large number of people include Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Erie, Scranton, Allentown, and Reading.
Pennsylvania’s low cost of living is the first thing we’ll mention because that’s something most people move to the state for. With the low cost of living comes better real estate prices, making it an affordable state to move to. We don’t need to tell you much about the state’s education system, and how the schools and universities here usually fall in the top ten in the country. There’s one thing that’s most attractive about living in Pennsylvania and that’s its close proximity to New York and New Jersey. So, you can commute to New York and can escape its high cost of living by moving to Pennsylvania.
- Median price of homes for sale in Boulder: $197,103
- Median rent per month in Boulder: $1,469
Home to the fabulous tampa, Illinois’s population stands at 12.6 million, with 228 people per square mile. This means that the state is the twelfth most densely populated state in the United States. Major cities where the population is higher include Springfield, Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, and Joliet. But, there’s something that’s rather alarming about Illinois’s population trends in the last five years – the decline. For seven consecutive years, Illinois has been slowly losing population, which experts believe is the highest since World War II. Between the years 2019 and 2020 itself, the state saw a decline of 0.63% in its population.
While the state of Illinois is known for its impressive minds and Chicago’s deep dish pizzas, the main reason people are leaving the state is the rising tax rates, crime, extreme winters, and the laws. Also called Lincoln State, Illinois has some strange laws that you should look into before you move. Let’s talk about the good parts of living in Illinois – the food, culture, sports and the numerous parks are all something you’ll fall in love with. The cost of living and the real estate in Lincoln state is also affordable. You must note though that job opportunities are plenty in the cities, since a large part of the economy is dependent on agriculture, you might not find the type of job you want.
- Median price of homes for sale in Bishop: $202,675
- Median rent per month in Bishop: $1,081
See also: Moving to Illinois – Relocation Guide
With a population of 11.7 million, the state of Ohio has always been notorious for being the swing state during elections. While the state is the tenth most densely populated in the United States with 286 people per square mile, the population growth rate is slowing down. Even though the percentage of the population decline is small and is only being observed in cities like Cleveland, it has been attributed to the residents’ need to move to the states on the sunbelt. You can expect the major cities in Ohio to be the most populated though, which include Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland, and Dayton.
Also nicknamed the Buckeye state because of the large mass of Buckeye trees, Ohio has a lot of perks to offer that explain its place in the top ten of the list. What’s most attractive about Ohio is the affordable housing market which results in a lower cost of living. At the same time, the state has a bustling economy, especially for young professionals.
When it comes to education, even though Ohio isn’t at the top, the schools and universities here provide good quality education. There’s one thing you must note though, and that is the climate. Even though Ohio rarely experiences natural disasters, the overall climatic conditions can be a deterrent for many looking to move here. The winters are intense with blizzards and snowfall while the summers are extremely hot.
- Median price of homes for sale in Ohio: $277,832
- Median rent per month in Ohio: $972
What is the least populated state in the United States?
Wyoming with a tiny population of 578,759 takes the bragging rights for that title.
What state has the largest elderly population?
Maine ranks first when it comes to a population of residents above the age of 65 which is 20.06%.
Also read: Best States to Retire
What state is the best state to live in?
Washington is the undisputed winner here. Data by the US News has shown that Washington gets first place year after year owing to the state’s low crime rates, great economy, education, and quality of life.
While you look at the different states in the United States in terms of population, you will realize that most of these states have been holding those ranks for quite a few years. Even though we notice shifts in the population trends every year, there’s something we can’t deny. It’s the simple truth that people move to and from states when they are tempted by better opportunities elsewhere.
Residents of a particular state relocate for multiple reasons, but mostly for jobs and a better quality of life. And these moves are usually to or around major cities, because of the opportunities, which also comes with the challenges of overcrowding and increasing competition. So, before you look into these states and completely check them off for being highly populated, we suggest you also look at factors like the schooling systems, transportation, and opportunities for growth among others.