America’s newest hipsturbias have figured out the live/work/play formula
Cool, active, affordable suburbs are an increasingly big draw for Millennials, those fans of urban living who are often priced out of cities. Known as hipsturbias, the phenomenon was identified by the New York Times in 2013, and more of these hot spots are developing near big cities across the country. Solving a live/work/play formula, they allow thirtysomething buyers the chance to purchase their first home in an area with eclectic retail stores, dynamic nightlife and good public transportation while being close to the urban centers they still love.
With the spread of remote work during the pandemic, more Millennials are looking to land in hipsturbias, and that increasing demand is creating more of these too-cool communities. We connected with real estate agents in the know to find the latest hipsturbian hot spots, arranged alphabetically below.
Today's top hipsturbias
- Alpharetta, Ga.
- Beaverton, Ore.
- Leander, Texas
- New Rochelle, N.Y.
- Plainfield, Ill.
- Saint Petersburg, Fla.
- Santa Clara, Calif.
- Tempe, Ariz.
- Watertown, Mass.
- Yonkers, N.Y.
A once-small city north of Atlanta that now features a population above 60,000, Alpharetta combines relatively inexpensive housing with an engaging lifestyle to draw millennials. Its median family home price is $272,000, though the price-per-square foot is rising this year, and the overall cost of living can be high. Part of Alpharetta's hipster appeal is that it’s becoming a haven for music lovers. Avalon Nights Live features bands on Friday evenings, while the Brooke Street Park Concert Series invites listeners to throw down a blanket and enjoy the vibe. Low unemployment and solid schools also attract new residents. Unfortunately for those commuting to Atlanta, that drive has been compared to “being dragged by a horse by your heels on a bumpy road.”
Featuring an easy commute to the state’s biggest city, Portland, which sits only seven miles to the west, this hipsturbia of about 100,000 features a range of attractions, from wineries to boutiques. Packed with parks, bike trails and hiking paths, residents embrace active and healthy pursuits–maybe because Beaverton is also home to fitness-apparel juggernaut Nike. There are more than 50 schools to choose from in Beaverton, and unemployment is low. Though there’s plenty of housing, with more than 40,000 units available, the price per square foot has jumped more than 10 percent since October.
Leander is leaning into serious growth, doubling its population to more than 50,000 over the last decade. A great reason for this growth is an April 2021 median home price of $214,000, less than half of that of nearby hipster haven Austin. Named No. 1 on the Best Places to Raise a Family in Texas by SmartAsset.com, the city sports an urban-style project called Northline that is rejuvenating downtown, while Old Town Leander continues to offer a selection of breweries and a farmer’s market. And there’s a new college in town: Austin Community College opened a few years ago. The once-low cost of living in the Texas Hill Country, though, has increased since Leander got hip, and the commute to Austin can be hampered by stampeding traffic.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
This diverse community of nearly 80,000–only 40 minutes by train from Manhattan–is brimming with parks and is right on Long Island Sound, where sailboats and kayaks dot the water on sunny days. The thriving restaurant scene includes Korean, Indian and Mexican fare, and a large selection of rooftop bars are popular. The median home price exceeds $550,000, which is not bad for a city so close to the Big Apple, but the cost of living overall can be prohibitive. Plus, the schools are not of the highest quality, and unemployment is high.
Plainfield’s name definitely belies the buzz this up-and-coming hipsturbia is generating. Affordability and youth are key to its appeal, with a median age of just under 35 and a median home price right at $300,000. The city of about 43,000 features eclectic shops, including candle stores and game outlets, as well as breweries, dozens of restaurants and an axe-throwing spot, where hipsters can come together and get medieval. Other draws are the summer outdoor concert and film series downtown in Settlers’ Park and tubing on the Plainfield River. One downside is the nearly 40-mile (not minute) commute if you work in Chicago, unless your job is in nearby Joliet.
Saint Petersburg, Fla.
Interested in 360 days of sunshine? As you can imagine, that leads to an abundant outdoor lifestyle in this hipsturbia: boating in either Tampa Bay or the Gulf of Mexico, rollerblading, biking and much more. Art takes a prime focus here. There’s a museum devoted to Salvador Dali, galleries galore and six art districts. In the past six months, the price per square foot for homes has jumped about 10 percent. Still, there is plenty of inventory available. Unemployment is low in St. Pete, and the education system offers a mix of hundreds of public and private schools. One drawback: there’s little public transportation, so any commute can hit some clogged roadways.
Santa Clara, Calif.
Just outside of San Jose, Santa Clara features some major attractions that contribute to an alluring quality of life. After all, the 127,000-person hipsturbia hosts San Francisco 49er home games and a major amusement park. Santa Clara University–in the top 15 percent of universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report–offers a vibrant campus. The median age in Santa Clara is less than 34, it offers a mix of strong public and private schools, unemployment is low and the commute to San Jose and other nearby cities is reasonable (not so much to San Francisco). But the cost of living in Silicon Valley is still sky high–the median home price exceeds $800,000–making this hipsturbia affordable only for the wealthier hipsters.
An easy commute to Phoenix, which sits just west of this hipsturbia, Tempe is home to one of the largest public universities in the country–Arizona State–and features a renowned zoo and aquarium. Hiking and mountain biking trails abound, and kayakers and sailors enjoy the waters of Tempe Town Lake. Residents can discover Native American culture by visiting tribal lands that border Tempe. In general, there’s little to complain about here: ample housing, low unemployment, lots of sunshine and a median age below 30 all attract millennials. The drawbacks? The cost of living is high, and housing prices in 2021 are soaring.
Location is a prime selling point for this up-and-coming hipsturbia. Boston College and Harvard, with their old-style coffee shops and wide-ranging eating spots, are short drives away. Easy access to Boston itself via the Mass Pike is a huge plus for those who commute into the city. The Charles River is a perfect spot for bike rides, fishing or kayaking and makes one forget this was once a vibrant industrial city with rubber factories. Unemployment is low, the community is diverse, and the public schools are above average. All of which is causing the Watertown housing market to seriously catch fire: homes stay on the market an average of just over two weeks. And with an average sales price closing in on $850,000, potential buyers must think hard if they can afford a high cost of hipster living.
Like everything around New York City, Yonkers is big, with a population around 200,000. Despite its size, the diverse neighborhoods are safe, and the education is strong–U.S. News & World Report rates Yonkers Middle High School as one of the best in the land. It’s hard to get bored in Yonkers: The Downtown Waterfront District is a haven for eclectic restaurants and nightlife, and with arts weekends to enjoy, gardens to explore and jazz and other music to listen to at the waterfront amphitheater, it’s an energetic spot. When work beckons, the commute into Manhattan can be as quick as 30 minutes. After rising late last year, the housing market has cooled off in 2021, as the average home spent more than two months on the market before selling. Still, because it’s New York, the cost of living can force millennials to turn their eyes elsewhere.
The rise of hipsturbias shows no signs of abating in 2021, even as housing prices move higher. Live/work/play areas near high-energy cities look likely to continue to appeal to the tens of millions of millennials, who can live their best life in these ultra-vibrant places.
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