Live Here, Not There: 9 Underrated American Neighborhoods
We always love visiting and sometimes living in the trendiest neighborhoods in America, but we always get an extra thrill out of finding emerging or alternative neighborhoods that are just as happening but still under the radar enough that they don't have exorbitant rents. We've rounded up nine of our favorite up-and-coming cities to live in and their pricier alternatives. Scroll through to be inspired for your next move!
For years New Yorkers have touted Queens as the next Brooklyn. Now that studios in Williamsburg run for an average of $3142 per month and one-bedrooms in DUMBO have hit an average of $4022, we can see the need for a new metropolitan hot spot. This summer, Queens arrived on the scene as the latest It borough. Vogue says we should call the summer of 2015 “the summer of queens” and look to Long Island City as its Williamsburg. Vogue also zeroes in on a specific neighborhood within a neighborhood. “One small section of LIC in particular—just north of Queensboro Plaza—has emerged as a new seasonal hot spot: Dutch Kills, an industrial hamlet turned happening micro-hood.” With a review like that (and studios running for under $2500), we’re sure this summer favorite will be bustling with Williamsburg expats in no time. And if going over $2K for a studio still sounds steep, check out Flushing or Jackson Heights, where studios run under $1500.
In 2012 Forbes named Silver Lake “America’s hippest hipster neighborhood,” causing the West Coast hub of cool to eclipse its East Coast counterpart, Williamsburg, for the number one spot. We can’t disagree with this ranking, but according to RadPad, one-bedroom rentals in Los Angeles have risen almost 10% since August 2012. Translation? Los Angeles (especially Silver Lake) renters will be paying $2000 more in rent this year than they were last year. Yes, we’re loving the cultural renaissance taking over LA, but this surge in the cost of living can wreak havoc on our bank accounts. That’s why we recommend swapping days spent wandering Sunset Junction and all that it has to offer (we’re looking at you, Mohawk General Store, Forage, and Intelligentsia), for days spent wandering Downtown Los Angeles, aka DTLA, and its emerging Arts District. According to Rent Jungle, an average apartment in Silver Lake costs approximately $2253, whereas downtown will run you about $2069. Rent is still high, but you can get a lot more space for your money. It might be time to turn your attention to this emerging neighborhood before the rest of the world catches on and prices skyrocket!
According Rent Jungle, the average rent in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood is $4415. Last spring, The New York Times quoted one Google employee making $100,000 per year who said she “couldn’t afford” to live in the Mission. If those rent prices scare you like they do us, maybe it’s time to look outside of San Francisco for the next up-and-coming neighborhood. Look no further than the Uptown in Oakland. Since San Francisco food truck phenomenon Off the Grid set up shop in July of last year, the Uptown has become a hot spot for San Franciscans looking to live in an incredible community without SF prices. Not only does Oakland have a plethora of delicious restaurants, theater options, and walkability, but it’s also a stone’s throw from San Francisco. West Oakland to San Francisco’s Financial District takes a mere seven minutes. In Oakland, there is no midtown, so downtown and uptown touch each other. The Fox Theater, artisanal cocktails, and $9 burritos are all a part of the scene in the Uptown, and rents can run about half the price of the Mission.
Seattle is a place for foodies to rejoice. To quote The New York Times travel writer Frank Bruni, “To eat in and around Seattle, which [he] did recently and recommended heartily, isn’t merely to eat well. It is to experience something that even many larger, more gastronomically celebrated cities and regions can’t offer, not to this degree: a profound and exhilarating sense of place.” The Walrus and the Carpenter is Bruni’s most lauded favorite. Located in Ballard, what he refers to as “a traditionally unglamorous neighborhood being embraced by fashionable restaurateurs,” The Walrus and the Carpenter is one of many reasons to leave other more established neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. Another reason is the fact that you can find a near waterfront apartment in Ballard for under $1000 versus Capitol Hill, where studios go for $1700 on average.
In RiNo (aka River North Art District) in Denver galleries are on almost every block, countless brick buildings are being renovated into lofts, and co-working spaces for startups and entrepreneurs are popping up all over the place. Artisanal coffee shops like local favorite Crema are a big draw and, to quote one Art District lover, “RiNo is the epicenter of Denver’s foodie revolution.” If those perks don’t appeal to you, perhaps the prices will. In trendy Denver neighborhood LoDo (aka Lower Denver) apartments rent for $2468 on average, whereas RiNo apartments go for $2000 on average.
New Orleans isn’t known for exorbitant rent, but old neighborhoods like the Warehouse District/Central Business District are undergoing a major cultural renaissance. According to Curbed, New Orleans’s Warehouse District is the place to rent. “Now, this is the place to be,” says the real estate insider. “The formerly nine-to-five centric Poydras Street corridor is booming with bars and restaurants and primed to be a New Orleans hot spot.” Walk Score, the app that ranks the walkability of any address on a scale of 0 and 100, gives the Warehouse District a 93, making it the second-most walkable neighborhood in New Orleans. While the mansion-filled Lower Garden District pulls in $2233 as the average apartment rent, the Warehouse District has an average rent of $1631.
The neighborhood of Old Fourth Ward (aka O4W), Atlanta has historical significance. But many 20-something locals are only familiar with O4W’s current reputation as an art-filled neighborhood with delicious food, fun nightlife, and its Ponce City Market. Modeled after Chelsea Market, Ponce Market is a multi-use structure that serves as a major draw for shopping, eating, working, and living. O4W is also known for having the best brunch in Atlanta. Intelligent Travel cites Highland Bakery as “the ultimate in decadence, with French toast as big as your head.” Not only can you satisfy your brunch cravings and check out incredible original art on the BeltLine, you can also rent an apartment for $1433 on average.
Wynwood is the kind of neighborhood that makes it okay to leave the white sand beaches of South Beach and venture inland. Why? This cool South Beach alternative offers a funkier environment filled with street artists, artisans, and scrumptious eats. According to The Daily Beast, “recently Wynwood has seen as many bar openings as art openings.” As for design, Wynwood takes an entirely different approach than South Beach. “This is the antithesis of the breezy high heels and tight dresses at Latin glam scenes down at South Beach, with a throwback blue-collar warm industrial chic. These are also more than just drinking establishments; they are the student unions of this neighborhood, with a changing roster of cultural activities.” With daily cultural offerings, the annual Art Basel festival, and average rent hovering around $1400, we think it’s time to move to Wynwood.
The Wall Street Journal is one of many publications to recognize Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood as the emerging favorite for urbanites looking to settle down. “Families are replacing factories, top tech firms, restaurants, and some retailers are moving in,” and luxury condos are beginning to be built. After a one-year renovation, Soho House opened its converted factory doors in West Loop, and Gwyneth Paltrow chose the area for her Goop pop-up. Even though rent prices are already getting steep (over $1900 per month), they will likely only get steeper.
Make your move extra smooth with these packing essentials.