Stearns County has seen a steady increase in the number of households since 2000. In 2000, there were 47,604 households, which increased to 57,695 households in 2016. Household growth from 2000 to 2016 has outpaced population growth, 21% compared to 15% respectively. The fastest growing areas from a percentage basis have been in the St. Cloud Metropolitan Area and communities along the I-94 and Highway 23 corridor. Stearns County can anticipate modest levels of growth over the next twenty to thirty years. It is assumed this growth will primarily occur within the cities.
The median household size in Stearns County has seen a decrease from 2.64 persons per household in 2000 to 2.52 persons per household. Decreasing household size is also a national trend as more people are living alone, more families are deciding to have fewer children, and rates of multi-generational households are decreasing. Household sizes are decreasing most dramatically in the areas of the County with higher median ages. This correlation may suggest that as children age they are moving out of their parent’s home and moving elsewhere, decreasing the median household size and increasing the median age.
Home values differ around the County. The lowest median home values are found in the St. Cloud Metropolitan Area. The highest home values are found in the areas immediately adjacent to the metropolitan area suggesting that Stearns County residents are willing to pay a little more for their home to be close to, but not within the metropolitan area. The abundance of natural amenities in the areas with high home values may play a role as well.
When a household pays more than 30% of its income on housing costs it is classified as a housing burdened household. Approximately 27% of all Stearns County households pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs. There is an uneven distribution of this finding amongst renters and homeowners. Just under 20% of homeowners have a housing cost burden, while over 44% of renters have a housing cost burden.
The County saw 270+ new home construction permits during the April 2014 – September 2019 time period. These permits occurred throughout the County with concentrations seen in Munson, Wakefield, and Paynesville Townships near the lakes. New home permits issued in Collegeville and Avon Townships also appear to be concentrated around lakes. Many of the home permits issued in the western portion of the county are located adjacent to and within farmland. Most of these new homes (as seen in the figure) are on unplatted parcels.