Celina, a small city located about 40 miles north of downtown Dallas, is making headlines as one of America’s fastest-growing cities. This once-overlooked town is now attracting new residents with its freshly built homes and close-knit community.

A Charming Small-Town Atmosphere

In Celina, the American flags that grace the sidewalks and the country tunes that fill local businesses create a nostalgic small-town charm. Shop owners greet customers by name, and neighbors exchange warm hellos while driving their children to and from school in shiny golf carts.

Rapid Population Growth

The hallmarks of urban life, such as bustling shopping malls and large parking lots, are noticeably absent in Celina. The city only welcomed its first Starbucks in 2022. However, what Celina does have in abundance is newly built homes. According to the latest US Census Bureau figures, the city experienced a remarkable 26.6% population surge from July 2022 to July 2023, far exceeding the nation’s 0.5% growth rate.

Development and Migration Trends

In 2010, Celina had only 6,028 residents. By 2020, this number had increased to 16,739, and by 2023, the population had skyrocketed to 43,317. Analysis of census migration data reveals that most new residents in Collin County, including Celina, come from Texas ZIP codes, as well as California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Missouri. There is also a significant number of people relocating from Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe.

The Appeal of Celina

Texas has become a hotspot for domestic migration within the United States. While major cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston have long driven the state’s population growth, smaller areas like Celina are now leading the charge. Their rising popularity is partly due to their down-to-earth lifestyle, relatively low costs, and availability of new homes.

“We’re growing at about 20% every year,” says Ryan Tubbs, the mayor of Celina since May 2023. “It’s just astronomical growth when you think about the influx of residents and the number of housing permits. Even so, our vision is to maintain that small-town feel, no matter how big we get.”

Economic Development and Accessibility

Celina’s transformation from corn and cotton farmland into a rapidly expanding city is part of a developmental wave sweeping across Collin County, which includes nearby cities such as Frisco, Plano, and Prosper. This growth has been greatly influenced by the ongoing expansion of the North Texas Tollway, which has increased accessibility to previously remote cities.

With Celina becoming more accessible, numerous new housing developments led by builders like Taylor Morrison, Toll Brothers, and Highland Homes have heightened the area’s appeal. According to the city, from 2010 until June 2024, 15,062 single-family permits have been issued for Celina, many in brand-new master-planned communities.

A Thriving Real Estate Market

The president of Highland Homes, Aaron Graham, highlights Celina’s real estate boom. The company specializes in luxury homes within master-planned communities and has built several neighborhoods in Celina since 2020. Home prices in these developments start in the low $500,000s and reach into the millions. By the end of the year, Highland Homes expects to have closed around 2,100 home sales in Celina.

The abundance of relatively affordable homes has attracted numerous buyers from the more expensive West and East Coasts. Celina welcomes an average of 830 newcomers monthly, often arriving with higher incomes and larger budgets for home buying.

Community and Economic Growth

With more people living in Celina, the local economy is also growing. Tracy Miller, owner of downtown Celina’s home-decor shop, Terramania, reports that sales have steadily increased since opening. The city is constructing a new city hall and expanding its staff to accommodate its growing number of residents.

Maintaining Community Values

Despite rapid growth, Celina remains committed to maintaining its community spirit. This was evident following rainstorms that led to a federal disaster declaration in June for several Texas counties, including Collin County. Residents banded together to form volunteer groups, offering prayers and support to those affected.

“In Celina, everyone is there for each other,” says Julissa Casas, a real estate agent who also volunteered for the storm relief efforts. “We get a lot of volunteers, and the city does a great job of organizing. That’s what I love about the city—it is growing, but it still has a small-town community feel.”


Celina, Texas, is a shining example of a small city experiencing astronomical growth while retaining its charming small-town atmosphere. With its rapid population increase, new housing developments, and strong community spirit, Celina is poised to continue its remarkable transformation.

Henry Harrison Dallas Texas Podcast Season 3