Yet, for the first time since the census bureau started counting, the population in sunny Broward County, Fla., is falling, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports.
"I was reading the tea leaves and that the moving truck was heading north, not south," said Broward County Mayor Lois Wexler.
This once-booming community gained an average of 28,000 new residents a year from 2000 to 2006. But last year, it shrank by 13,000. And Wexler is facing a $150 million budget shortfall.
"We know that we are losing revenue," she said. "The whole state of Florida is losing revenue."
Home sales in Florida peaked in 2005 at a quarter of a million. By 2006, sales dropped to 130,000 and the number is still falling. The median price for a home is down $40,000 from the height of the boom.
"People who want to buy a new home in a fast-growing part of the country find that they can't get credit," said William Frey of the Brookings Institution. "The mortgage crunch has really frozen them out, I guess you could say."
Real estate broker Zach Finn has seen his business drop from three closings a day to three a month.
"I'm extremely optimistic that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, the way things are going it can't go this way forever," Finn said.
As long as homeowners remain locked in, their local economy will be locked down. It will take a lot more than a great view to open it up again.