The Beaches, the Weather, the Laidback Lifestyle. Who Wouldn’t Want to Live Here?

Here’s the breakdown. Okaloosa County (Ft. Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville-Valpraiso) grew 4.5-percent from 2000 to 2003.

Santa Rosa County (Milton and Navarre) exploded with a 13-percent growth in population during the first four years of the decade.

Walton County (Defuniak Springs, Freeport) had the largest percentage of population growth at 14.2-percent during the same time period.

The experts say about 30,000 more people are calling Northwest Florida home in just these three counties.

Freeport is the fast growing community in Walton County. Crestview and Niceville take the honors for Okaloosa County.

It should be noted that the Census Bureau does not include the coastal communities in southern Walton County in its updating statistics.