DESPITE THE BUZZ ABOUT higher-density living, smart growth, and infill, the average Joe isn't buying into it. Recent population data released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Joe is moving beyond the suburbs—all the way to the “exurbs.”

Not surprisingly, most of the growth happened throughout the Sun Belt. Of the 100 fastest-growing counties, 60 were located in the South, 23 in the West, and 17 in the Midwest. None were in the Northeast. However, a similar outward movement is happening in parts of the Snow Belt. Roughly half of the 12 fastest-growing counties during the past decade, including Kendall County southwest of Chicago and Scott County south of Minneapolis, are situated at the outmost periphery of major metro areas.

Click here for the 20 Fastest-growing counties by population (7/03-7/04) But the champion was Flagler, Fla., which beat out top-seeded Loudoun County, Va., as the nation's fastest-growing county with a 10.1 percent population increase. Florida led all states with 14 out of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties. Georgia and Texas also topped this year's charts with 12 of the fastest-growing counties each. Virginia claimed 10.