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By Chaz Wilke, Staff Writer

How To Identify Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods

The list of hip neighborhoods around the country just seems to keep growing: Portland's Pearl District, Brooklyn's Red Hook, Seattle's Capitol Hill, Los Angeles' Silver Lake, Chicago's Wrigleyville, the list just goes on and on. But once something is labeled hip, it can quickly begin it's decent to passé.

What goes up must come down.

If you're looking to move in the near future and want to land somewhere hip, you may have a suspicion that some of these neighborhoods are heading towards the clichéd endgame of gentrification: Suburbia.

How can you stay ahead of the curve? How do you identify the next great neighborhood before everybody else?

Regardless of what part of the country you live in, there are a few noticeable characteristics that could help you uncover the next great hip spot to find a home.

It's no surprise that the most economically depressed areas of a city are the most ripe for revival. Although, with today's struggling economy, one might consider just about all of America economically depressed. It's important to identify the subtle changes emerging from the parts of the town where you've been hesitant to park your car.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the very scientific process of "hip-ification" begins with artists. Cities are a magnet for creative types. It might be due to the external stimulation and bold cultural vibrancy or something.

When living in any relatively urban area, space comes at a premium. So artists are always seeking out the best value for their hard-earned money. This group moves to the downright sketchy parts of town in the hope of finding enough space for them to set up an easel and live on a pittance.

Consider the artist a seed planted in the dirt of a depressed town. These seeds soon grow and bear the blooms of economic revival. But that revival doesn't happen quite yet. While the artists are the self-described flowers of our society, they cannot pollinate without the help of another group.

Enter the hipsters.

A hipster is a relatively well-dressed, well-financed, urban commodity. The interests and priorities of the average hipster are all predicated on ironic justifications. They may seem to dress haphazardly, but they are very concerned with their appearance. They don't seem to have careers, but can afford costly Ray Ban sunglasses. They obsess over the quality and presentation of their food yet seem to have no ability to prepare their own. While the ironic lifestyle may confuse the average person, many of these attributes are integral in the economic renewal of depressed neighborhoods.

Now, hipsters have gotten a bad rap over the past few years, mostly from other hipsters. But hipsters are a very necessary part of gentrification, a fact that in and of itself would infuriate this breed.

Again, they thrive on irony, so a relatively well-to-do person choosing to live in the rundown part of town sets off their irony beacon, thereby attracting more hipsters. And so they begin to arrive in droves, each one more annoyed at the increasing amount of hipsters they now live near.

While the average hipster swears they are capable artists, the astute observer will note they spend the majority of their time just critiquing other's hard work.

But the one thing hipsters are great at is spending money. Lots of money.

With a fresh influx of cash and customers, the once struggling parts of the city begin to pulse with new life. New businesses spring up, tailoring themselves to the wants and... well, the wants of hipsters.

Coffee Shops

  • Free Trade, Fair Trade, or whatever catchy slogan that looks best on the custom organic cotton t-shirt that they end up selling more of than actual coffee. A good coffee shop will become the beating heart of the hip neighborhood.

Book Stores

  • It may seem like a bad business model to have only 20 books for sale, but this is actually a sly ploy to keep customers away. Nothing screams irony like running a business that hates its customers.


  • The more locally sourced the meat and produce, the more hip the neighborhood. The closer the source, the better the restaurant. As far as hipster measurements go.


  • If the perceptible difference in taste between all 140 craft beers that this hole-in-the-wall has on tap seems negligible, perhaps consider settling down in a slightly less hip town. Because here, you better know your flutes from your flights, your bitters from your casks, and heaven help you if you order anything other than an extremely hoppy IPA.

New businesses begin to coat the landscape like dandelions in a field after a summer storm. And as the businesses flock, the hip-neighborhood bubble begins to fill. The wait times for a seat at the local restaurants begin to rise dramatically. Getting a seat at the bar for anything other than Sunday brunch becomes impossible.

And don't even think about going to the Sunday brunch place for Sunday brunch. Unless you like brunch around dinner time.

The hip-neighborhood bubble begins to strain.

Suddenly the conversation shifts. Tweets start speaking obvious truths:

Once a neighborhood begins having pop-up craft fairs that only hawk quaint, brightly colored items that serve no real purpose, you'll have your clear indicator that this town is maturing into a really hip place to live.

Now is the time to jump in to this neighborhood, you'll get the best of the idealized reimagining of this town before the mass consumerism and corporations that are sure to follow. And they will follow.

And when they arrive, there is no turning back.

The artists and hipsters have done a fantastic job transforming the town from squalid to sanguine. And then it begins. Families descend on the town, prepared to bask in the simple pleasures of safe urban living.

The hip businesses get replaced with larger, more practical offerings. Waiting for a table with children in tow is out of the question. So the hip, locally sourced restaurant gets replaced with something a little more accommodating. Like an Applebee's. While it may not be locally sourced, we are assured that we will be eating good in the neighborhood.

Welcome to suburbia.

The thriving businesses and cheap housing rates create a meteoric rise in demand and a similar rise in price. Once all signs of the previous low-rent residents and vibrant culture disappear, the artists head to the next town that offers space at dirt cheap prices.

And once hipsters are left with only soccer moms and clean-cut professionals as neighbors, no amount of irony can protect them from the grim realization that they are now living in the suburbs.

It takes time, of course. And that time in between sketchy and suburbia is the beautiful creamy middle of hip. The dangers of the depressed town have been washed away but the polished living of suburbia is still years off.

Finding a hip neighborhood is hard enough. But when you do, let eMortgageRates introduce you to an interested lender that may be able to help you pay for a home located in the center of hip.