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The Commonwealth Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Will You Move to a Hip City?

We’ve all heard the hype: New York, San Francisco, and Portland are some of the hippest cities, boasting great food, up-and-coming art, and super trendy people. But a new wave of hipsterdom is among us, and cities are undergoing transformations left and right – inspiring moves across the United States.

So, what exactly makes these cities so trendy, and why should you – or shouldn’t you -- move to one?

They’re Full of Hipsters

According to a study by our friends at MoveHub, looking at hipsters can give you great insight into understanding what hip city you may – or may not – want to move to. They define hipsters as a subculture of 20 – 30-year-olds who are free-thinkers, non-mainstream, and what they call non-conformist conformists. They’re easy to spot and make impressions on the places they inhabit and the people they meet. They’re a prominent subgroup of a younger generation that’s difficult to ignore.   

In MoveHub's study, the U.S. Hipster Index, they rely on hard data to determine how hip a city is based on five key points – the number of microbreweries, thrift stores, vegan restaurants, and tattoo studios for every 100,000 residents, as well as the rate of rent inflation in the past year. The results offer several interesting things to consider before making a move.

The Pacific Northwest Still Reigns

Considering the five key points above, cities in the Pacific Northwest dominated the study, boasting four of the top-20 cities on the list. Someone’s got a whole lot of craft-beer drinking, thrifting, tattooing, and vegan eating going on. That someone – or place -- is Vancouver, Washing, scoring an 8.23 on the list and ranking number one. This hip city is closely followed by Tacoma, Spokane, and Seattle – all cities in the state of Washington. Remember that time you wanted to hike Mount Rainier after making a morning trip to the nation’s first Starbucks? Well, that can happen if you move to one of these hip cities. Plus, you’re neighbors with another hip city – Portland, Oregon.

Large Cities Aren’t ‘In It to Win It’

Big cities offer many cool experiences. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago are timeless and offer the dream of a hustling and bustling city, but they don’t score well on the U.S. Hipster Index. Their mere size dilutes overall hipster impact, and revitalized areas that have a cool appeal are where gentrification runs rampant.

Rent skyrockets in the hippest areas and finding a studio apartment can be a daunting task. While big cities hold their own appeal, provide unique histories, and offer diversity, they’re also quite expensive – something to consider before packing your bags. The study shows that cities comprised of less than 500,000 people provide more saturated-hipster experiences, with cool cafés, shops, and studios situated closely together.

Different Cities for Different Folks

While the study accounts for 5 key factors, some cities regard certain hip factors more highly than others. In Denver, Colorado, for example, 9 microbreweries exist for every 100,000 residents – placing it at the top of the list for all-things-beer but lower on the list for all other factors. That’s great if you like your daily dose of hops, but what if you’re not a beer fan?

Don’t worry – you’re still cool. You may just want to move to Augusta, Georgia instead, a charming city that also houses the most tattoo studios according to the study’s parameters. Meanwhile, Richmond, Virginia boasts the most thrift stores, providing its love for recycled fashion. Other top-placing cities according to the study are Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, Boise, Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Rochester – all recognized for their own uniquely hip qualities and affordability.

It’s up to You

Every city possesses its own history, culture, and politics, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide what qualities are most essential in a place you’ll learn to call home. A city is a playground in which you share experiences and make memories – why not make them hip, cool, and trendy, too?


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