The secret's out, Whanganui is the place to be.

The city and district population has grown by 700 people in the last year - the biggest annual increase since population changes were first recorded in 1996.
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District population now stands at 44,500 and is the highest it's been in 18 years, the Whanganui District Council announced, citing latest Census test figures.

"The population increase reflects what people are experiencing – a lot of Whanga-newbies, rising house prices, and a growing economy," Mayor Hamish McDouall said.

"The previous two government projections did not seem to reflect the growth that most people could see around them, but the test census has clearly flagged that Whanganui is becoming more popular."

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Council says the Whanganui district grew steadily since 2014, from 43,400 to 44,500 in 2017.

Part of the increase it says is due to growing international migration into Whanganui. In 2014, only 63 people migrated to Whanganui from overseas. In 2017, the number had increased to 211 international migrants.

People are earning more as well.

Whanganui's average household income has jumped from $59,300 to $68,300, a $9,000 or 15 per cent increase. Unemployment dropped from above 10 per cent to below 8 per cent over the same period.

"A growing economy is beneficial for everyone in Whanganui as it means there are employment opportunities, increasing money flow for businesses and ultimately leads to more money in the pockets of Whanganui residents," Mr McDouall said.

"This is a clear sign that people are seeing Whanganui as an attractive place to live with an enjoyable lifestyle."

The statistics are publicly available on MBIEs Regional Economic Activity App and Statistics New Zealand's website.