How to Spot Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods

Every city has that one area where you would have been crazy to live in 50 years ago, but today it's one of the more sought-after zip codes in town. College grads will spend practically their whole salary to rent (or buy, if they can manage it) a place there, local businesses make a fortune, and it's the hot spot on a Friday night.

It'd be great to own a home in a place like that, but how do you spot an up-and-coming neighborhood before it gets too popular? 

Architecture

Up-and-coming neighborhoods usually aren't full of new construction. They have an eclectic charm that comes from intricate designs, cute transoms over the doors, and wood beams that are older than your grandparents. These buildings are too beautiful to waste. Even if they're unoccupied now, you can bet someone's going to to take the time to revitalize them. 

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Youths

Young people want to live where the action is and really live their youth to the fullest--and they want to do it in an up-and-coming neighborhood. They aren't at a point in their lives where they're worried about a good school system or if they're sharing a wall with a business instead of another tenant. If they like a neighborhood enough, they'll make it work.

Cool businesses

Think unique restaurants and bars and interesting art galleries and music venues. A really desirable neighborhood will have so much to do nearby that there's not much reason to ever leave. When a few trailblazing businesses move in and start doing well, that might be a sign this neighborhood's on the move. 

Walkability

Soon enough the neighborhood is going to be brimming with cool bars and coffee shops, farm-to-table restaurants, and other hangouts. There's going to be a lot of great stuff densely packed together, and there'll be no need for cars. Look out for neighborhoods that are either walkable now, or have the potential to be without a huge construction project. 

Solvable problems

Up and coming neighborhoods aren't going to be perfect, but their problems need to be ones that can be fixed. If there's a pig processing plant a half a mile down the road, no amount of renovation is going to be able to get rid of that smell. On the other hand, if the sidewalks are cracked and broken, that's a solvable problem.

So, what now? Call your real estate agent and ask her show you around neighborhoods that meet this description. You might be the first of your friends to discover the next cool neighborhood. Now it's just a matter of deciding if you afford to buy a house there before it gets too expensive,