We’ve found the 15 hottest US cities for 2016, all of which will be booming next year thanks to new jobs, growing industries, burgeoning art and food scenes, and affordable real estate.
Rising prices in San Francisco will continue to push young hipsters out to Oakland and up north to Portland. Queens will become the hot borough in New York City because of its affordable real estate and rich culinary scene.
To compile this list we looked at job growth, population growth, affordability, livability, and the health and well-being of each city’s residents. We also considered how innovative and “cool” the city is — an important factor in attracting the young creative types who will make each city hot.
Atlanta, Georgia, is undergoing a revitalization that will lure in young professionals
In the past, young professionals clustered in the smaller satellite cities outside Atlanta, but recent gentrification and construction projects have lured them back to downtown Atlanta.
Similar to New York’s High Line, the Atlanta BeltLine is a redevelopment project that’s transforming an old railway track into a recreational path for cyclists and pedestrians.
Piedmont Park has been revitalized as new constructions crop up around it, and dozens of exciting restaurants have opened over the past two years.
Austin, Texas, has a booming economy and strong tech industry that will bring in tons of young and talented workers
Austin was named the best-performing city in the US in 2014 by the Milken Institute. In 2015, it took the second-place spot.
Job growth has been strong here, largely because of the city’s burgeoning tech scene. Companies like Dell, Roku, National Instruments, and Flextronics have offices here, and several startups have been coming out of the University of Texas.
All of this has led to an influx of young professionals and recent college grads, which in turn has led to a boom in construction. Austin has had one of the biggest migration rates in the US over the last few years, gaining 31,000 people in 2014 alone.
Burlington, Vermont, will lead the future of food
Burlington has always been known for its crunchy-granola vibe, but lately the city has been stepping up its game in leading the rest of the country in sustainability. The local-food movement has been taking off here, with new culinary businesses that preach locally grown and made.
The city hosts a local-food festival, Eat by Northeast, where food-justice nonprofits, farmers, food entrepreneurs, and foodies come together to feast and talk about all stages of local food, from farm to table. Its Intervale Food Hub arranges weekly deliveries of produce sourced from dozens of local farms. These are just a few of the many steps the city is taking to continue to advance the local-food movement.
Burlington is also leading the rest of Vermont in sustainable energy. The state plans to have renewable resources provide 90% of the energy for the state by 2050.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, will become a densely populated destination for entry-level biotech employees
Tens of thousands of 25- to 34-year-olds, especially from Cambridge’s Harvard and MIT, as well as the 100-plus colleges in nearby Boston, are drawn to Cambridge for the growing biotech industry.
Many of Cambridge’s top employers, like the Novartis Institutes, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, and Biogen Idec, pay well and have plenty of jobs available.
The area could get very crowded very quickly. A recent report by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University created a fictional but fact-based projection of urban mobility in the greater Boston area for 2032, in which apartments become smaller (135 to 160 square feet) to fit more people, and the streets are full of self-driving bikes and cars that will moderate the increase in commuter traffic.
Detroit, Michigan, is on its way up, thanks to a group of young, motivated locals
Detroit has been slowly decaying over the past several years, but things are finally looking up for the Motor City.
The city has been trying to turn its economy around by attracting well educated and talented workers.
But a group of young, motivated Detroiters have also been influential in turning the city around: They’ve been revitalizing the real-estate market, boosting tourism, and investing in local companies. Local residents are already noticing that home prices are on the rise.
Durham, North Carolina, is a hub for research and technology
Durham, North Carolina, has long been a center for innovation in tech, thanks in part to the universities of the Research Triangle. Major companies like IBM and Cisco have been in Durham for decades.
But now, thanks to its relatively low cost of living, the city of 286,000 is becoming a hub for young companies looking to get their ideas off the ground.
Much of the activity has focused on the American Tobacco Campus, a former factory complex that has been completely revamped to include hip working spaces, retail, and restaurants and bars. Small startups, accelerators, and venture capital firms have made their homes there.
Jersey City, New Jersey, will get thousands of new residents
Manhattan’s slightly more affordable neighbour to the west is undergoing a huge building boom. Multiple super tall residential towers are currently under construction in the city’s downtown area, and a total of 3,000 apartment units are expected to come online by the end of 2015.
In July, J.P. Morgan announced it would be moving more than 2,000 jobs across the Hudson to Jersey City. The state of New Jersey has offered tax incentives to encourage other companies to do the same.
In addition to a quick commute to Manhattan, Jersey City offers residents access to a blossoming art and dining scene.
Madison, Wisconsin, will turn into a big skyscraper-filled city
With barely a quarter-million people, Madison is undergoing a restructuring of its skyline.
The massive face-lift will make room for a host of 20- and 30-somethings who are moving into the downtown area. Madison was named the best place to live in 2015 by Livability, and a big reason for that is the plethora of new jobs luring in young professionals.
Even more towering development projects are proposed for the next few years, challenging zoning and building laws. Some people are embracing the shift toward a city that welcomes growth, while others are calling it into question.
“You wonder if Madison could slip from under-built to over-built if the apartment boom continues,” Madison Urban Design Commission member Tom DeChant told The Cap Times.
Nashville, Tennessee, will become the new center of the auto and healthcare industries
Nashville may be known for its country-music scene, but these days the southern city is much more than just a music town.
It’s becoming a focal point for the auto and healthcare industries. The area is home to more than 300 healthcare companies and has more than 30,000 jobs in the auto industry.
The popularity of the TV show “Nashville” has helped boost tourism. Nashville hosted a record-breaking 13.1 million tourists in 2014, and it continues to grow as a destination.
Oakland, California, is the new hipster hotspot in the Bay Area
So many hipsters have been moving out of San Francisco and into Oakland that The New York Times has dubbed it “Brooklyn by the Bay.”
There are tons of vegan restaurants, coffee shops, and trendy clothing stores. All these place strong emphasis on local and vintage, surefire signs of hipsterdom.
Temescal Alley, filled with barbershops, doughnut stores, and a local farmers market, is a hipster hotspot.
This trend will continue as San Francisco real-estate prices continue to rise and push more young people to Oakland.
Portland, Oregon, will be popular with techies wanting to escape expensive housing in the Bay Area
Tech workers fed up with the astronomically high prices of San Francisco and Silicon Valley are increasingly looking elsewhere. For many of them, that means Portland.
Big-name companies like Salesforce, eBay, and Airbnb have recently opened outposts in Portland, joining startups like Tilde, Simple, and Sprintly.
Portland scores high in terms of walkability, and it’s known for its restaurant and craft-beer scenes.
Queens will become the hot new borough in New York City, and one of the best food cities in the world
Over the past decade, Manhattan real estate has gotten so expensive that everyone in New York moved to Brooklyn. But now Brooklyn has gotten very expensive, which means that people are fleeing to Queens, where real-estate prices are still relatively inexpensive.
New York City’s most diverse borough is also one of the world’s greatest places for food. Head to Flushing for Chinese, Astoria for Greek, or Jackson Heights for Indian. Chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern told us that Queens is the best food city in the world.
It’s also got plenty of great culture, with the Queens Museum, MoMA PS 1, and the Socrates Sculpture Park.
Lonely Planet even named Queens the top travel destination in the US for 2015.
“Silicon Beach” is expanding inland to Los Angeles’ Westside
The four miles between Venice and Santa Monica has been dubbed “Silicon Beach” for the growing number of startups that started moving into the area to escape the rising rents and cutthroat competition in Silicon Valley.
The growth has been so exponential that many startups have already started to move inland because of overcrowding and inflated prices of office and residential spaces.
These startups are moving to lesser known but hip areas like Playa Vista to find converted warehouses to start their businesses. In 2014, Google paid $120 million for 12 acres in the neighbourhood, in addition to its Venice presence. Yahoo plans to move its Los Angeles operation there. Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, Konami, and Belkin also have large offices there, and there’s plenty of room for construction.
This feature originally appeared in Business Insider.
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