Walton County makes list of top 100 fastest growing counties in the U.S.

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many cities and counties in the Panhandle are growing, some by leaps and bounds, but one area county has made the nation's top 100 list for growth.

According to numerous research groups, Walton County ranks within the top 100. But the question is, what makes this area so special?

"It's beautiful and so it doesn't surprise me at all," said one of Walton County's newest residents, Marlee Canada.

The U.S Census Bureau ranked Walton County the 19th fastest growing county in 2016, growing by 3.8 percent from the year before.

"That's crazy to me because there are so many tourists here that, I don't know, it's crazy to think that so many people living locally because it's such a tourist area," Canada said.

Accustomed to traveling for work, Canada said she was searching for a place to settle down and call home when a friend suggested she check out 30A.

"He called me up when he knew I was looking and he was like, 'You have to come down here and look in this area because it's so cool. It's perfect for you,' and so I came out," she said. "Flew out for a weekend and fell in love with it."

With almost 60,000 people living in Walton County, Canada, just like so many others, says the biggest draw was the emerald coast.

"I really wanted to be by the beach, that's my whole driving factor," Canada added. "I thought I'd buy it and then spend time here when I wanted to and then spend time wherever, but I've enjoyed it so much that I think I'll stay here."

On that list, Walton County is also the third fastest growing county in Florida, followed by Sumter and Osceola County.

San Juan County, Utah was ranked number one.