The 5 Surprising Cities That Ended Up Being Cool Places to Call Home

by Bobbie PrestonAugust 31, 2015

These “Sleeper” Cities Are Way Cooler Than You Might Think

“Coolness.” It’s a hard quality or condition to define, but we certainly know it when we see it. Some cities have longstanding reputations for being cool places to live. But for every New York, Seattle, or Austin, there’s a city that’s equally cool but not quite as popular as some of the better-known bastions of hipness. Let’s take a look at five cities whose under-the-radar coolness may come as a surprise.

1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Midwest might be better known for the modesty of its residents and the whiteness of its foods than for its hipness, but Minneapolis is as hip as cities come. The musical artist Prince hails from Minneapolis. So do the Coen Brothers. So do Josh Hartnett, Bob Dylan, and MacGyver!

But what else makes Minneapolis so cool? It has more theaters than any other city but New York. It’s the birthplace of the Jucy Lucy. It also boasts a beautiful downtown area, a vibrant music scene, and short commute times for its working residents. Oh, and its employment market is as strong as they come, and what’s cooler than being able to pay your bills on time?

2. Reno, Nevada

When it comes to casino-style excitement, most people think of Atlantic City, or Reno’s big brother, Las Vegas. But the self-proclaimed “Biggest Little City in the World” has a lot going for it, too. There’s plenty of affordable housing, making it an ideal spot for young people who are interested in owning their own homes. Plus, there’s the amazing nightlife, the year-round summer weather, the atmosphere of university life, and the close proximity to ski resorts, camping spots, and the lovely Pyramid Lake.

3. Arlington, Texas

Sure, Austin gets all the attention with its music festivals, food trucks, and quirky local color, but don’t be surprised if you start hearing a lot more about Arlington. This Lone Star city is a ridiculously affordable place to live, with cheap apartments, inexpensive nights out, and lots of delicious dining options that won’t put a dent in your wallet. There’s also a lively social scene. Oh, and did we forget to mention Six Flags Over Texas?

4. Salt Lake City, Utah

To many, Salt Lake City seems an ultra-conservative mecca, better known for temperance and red-state voting than fun times for young, working singles. But there’s way more to SLC than that. It’s been voted one of the most relaxed places to live, one of the top five foodie cities, and one of the most affordable cities in the country. Plus, downtown SLC is only five minutes from the ski slopes. What’s not to like about all that?

5. St. Louis, Missouri

For nearly a century, the population in St. Louis has been on a downhill slope, but these days, that’s rapidly changing. Twenty-somethings are now moving to the Missouri capital in large numbers, drawn there by its budding startup economy, its wealth of social events, ridiculously low living costs, and the droves of affordable historical homes in the area.

Why Not Be a Trendsetter When You’re Ready to Move to a New City?

These cities may not yet have the cool factor of Brooklyn, Miami, Portland, or San Francisco, but if current trends are any indication, then things may not stay that way for long. They’re the perfect places for those looking to find great cities with lots of things to do, but without the exorbitant price tags and overexposure of certain other hip metros.

If you’re looking for a new city to call home, maybe you should give one of these places a try. Then you can tell your friends you became a local before it was cool.

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Bobbie Preston