Residents in Orange County, California, generally expect the population to swell each year, especially after the East Coasters watch the sun-filled Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game every January 1st and finally get tired of living through the bitter cold, rain and slush. But long-time OC residents might be getting more nervous than usual about the potential number of people moving into the area over the next couple of years, following the biggest boom in apartment construction since 2005.

Currently, just over 7,100 apartments are being constructed in Orange County, with 4,498 scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, according to Property Management Insider. That number crushes the average of 2,300 units built annually over the last couple of decades.

In a one-mile radius in south OC, from Laguna Niguel to Mission Viejo, three huge construction projects are taking place: Crown Apartments, an $80 million, 284-unit multistory luxury complex, developed by Mill Creek Residential Trust; Career Lofts, a 142 luxury unit building developed by United American Properties; and Andalucia, a $130 million, 256-unit multi-family apartment development next to the Mission Viejo Country Club.

Orange County is located between Los Angeles County and San Diego County. The county’s population has increased by 4.5%, compared to California at 4.2%, since April 2010 to July 2014. The metro OC area ranks 9th in the nation as the most expensive place to live, according to the February 2015 issue of Business Insider. And generally speaking, living in the OC costs 18% more than the national average, according to the latest data compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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What that means to Orange Countians, particularly along the southern coastal region from Huntington Beach to Irvine to San Clemente, is considerable more traffic congestion, longer wait times in places like restaurants and discount stores, and increased pricing overall due to higher consumer demand.So why the construction boom, outside of the year-round warm weather? Several reasons.

For one, the recent surge in high-end job gainshas developers scrambling to build not only new but luxury housing.

Apartment occupancy stands at 96.9% even though rent growth is averaging 4.3% annually. New leases are averaging just over 4%. And while Irvine and the area surrounding John Wayne Airport is the hub for many large corporate businesses, 83% of the new construction is centered in the East Anaheim/Orange, Huntington Beach and southern suburbs.

Apartment growth is not limited to OC either. Builders across the U.S.

broke ground on apartment complexes at its fastest pace in 28 years, according to a US News & World Report. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that housing construction rose 9.8% in June 2015, and of that 28.6% came from apartment construction--its highest rate since November 1987.

Another reason is home affordability. The median price of a new home in OC reached an all-time high last December at $867,750, according to CoreLogic DataQuick, so only the 10th percentile of the population could afford that kind of mortgage payment.

Still, some homes are springing up across OC, from the Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine to the site of a former auto mall in Foothill Ranch to a coastal stretch of property in San Clemente, where 309 homes are being built following years of inactivity when the economy crashed.

Developers are putting these single-family homes on smaller lots with public parks and pools so residents can take advantage of more open space to walk, ride and play within their community. The same goes for condominiums, which are again a hot seller for budget-conscious families.

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