You are who your friends are. At least that’s what your parents told the teenage you as you started drifting toward the wrong crowd in high school. Well, these days you are where you live, meaning you’re only as cool as the neighborhood you call home. There are plenty of unique cities to choose from. Denver? Trending. Brooklyn? Hip. Austin? Totally cool. But home prices vary throughout the city, as mere blocks can separate you from the very happenings that shape a neighborhood’s reputation.
If you’re looking to revitalize your level of cool, you might want to start by planning a trip to one of America’s 10 coolest neighborhoods. According to Lonely Planet, they’re about as cool as they come. What’s more, some of them are pretty affordable should you decide to put down roots and buy a home.
10. East Liberty and Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh
- Median home price: $259,000
Pittsburgh has been making waves as the city continues to attract big-name companies to the area. And Lawrenceville is quickly gaining recognition as a microbrewery town, according to Lonely Planet, while East Liberty is emerging as a tech hub. Google and Uber have already established offices there, and it’s even on the shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters. Steel City hasn’t yet lost its industrial reputation, but the food and beverage scene is attracting more and more millennials with slightly hipster tendencies. And because home prices are refreshingly reasonable, these Pittsburgh neighborhoods have become a trendy area.
Next: A up-and-coming neighborhood in Chicago
9. Avondale, Chicago
- Median home price: $435,000
Located on the North Side of Chicago, Avondale is poised to become the area’s next up-and-comer. Lonely Planet travel experts say Avondale still adheres proudly to its manufacturing and industrial roots, but a new wave of intrigue is brewing. It’s a hub for Chicago’s Polish community, and homes in the area reflect a blue-collar feel. A breakout is still on the verge, so home prices are relatively cheap for being in such a booming metropolis. If you want to see “true Chicago” this is where you go.
Next: California cool
8. Point Loma, San Diego
- Median home price: $995,000
With homes creeping dangerously close to the million-dollar mark, most would expect this town to be maxing out the cool-o-meter. According to Lonely Planet, Point Loma is “the conservative neighbor of hippy Ocean Beach, with its sports fishing centers, yacht clubs, and naval base.” Nearby Coronado Island is a renowned military training base, so it seems only fitting that the old military barracks in Point Loma were transformed into a hip hangout known as Liberty Market. Local vendors serve craft beer, organic Mexican food, and some of the freshest seafood. They say it’s also the best place in the city to whale watch.
Next: A booming Northwest neighborhood
7. Frelard, Seattle
- Median home price: $659,950
The fact that Seattle is the birthplace of Amazon and Starbucks automatically makes this city cooler than most others. Frelard is a new neighborhood sandwiched between two of the city’s most popular areas, Fremont and Ballard (hence the name Frelard). It’s home to some of the greatest breweries in the area and the best local food venues, so it’s no surprise Lonely Planet ranks Frelard as the seventh coolest city in the country.
What’s not cool? How much it’ll cost you to actually be cool in this neighborhood. Homes here easily sell in the mid-$600,000s, and Zillow predicts prices will continue to rise by 5.9% over the next year.
Next: A suburb in Music City that’s super hip
6. East Nashville, Nashville
- Median home price: $329,900
Music City is more than just a tourist trap these days. East Nashville takes dive bars and live music one step further with eccentric food festivals and charming craftsman-style homes HGTV has made so popular. Home prices in East Nashville are higher than you’d expect for a Southern city, but when the neighborhood is dubbed “Nashville’s version of New York’s East Village” you expect to pay a bit more. Playing with your food is encouraged at the Tomato Art Fest — in fact, it’s even considered art — and the local music venues “ooze cool” on a nightly basis, according to Thrillist.
Next: The nation’s capital is also totally rad.
5. Capitol Riverfront and Yards Park, Washington, D.C.
- Median home price: $699,989
Washington, D.C.’s revamped riverfront property began when the MLB’s Washington Nationals moved their stadium to the area. According to Lonely Planet, the riverfront shines with a expansive boardwalk, bike trails, and restaurants. But all that overhauled shine doesn’t dull the fact that the nation’s capital is still one of America’s most expensive places to live in the U.S. Zillow puts median home prices at nearly $700,000. But hey, it’s not cheap to be cool, right?
Next: A neighborhood with big city views
4. Sunset Park, New York City
- Median home price: $534,000
Sunset Park just might be one of Brooklyn’s last hidden gems. Lonely Planet labels this city as one of those hip under-the-radar neighborhoods teeming with ethic restaurants, cultures, and traditions. Brooklyn has always been known for its artistic flair, and Sunset Park is no different. Industry City acts almost as its own town entirely, with 6 million square feet of company offices, retail stores, and over 5 acres of open space courtyards. Then, there’s Sunset Park itself, which offers locals some of the best views of Manhattan.
Next: A weird Texas neighborhood
3. South First Street, Austin
- Median home price: $315,000
Houston and Dallas are known for their honky-tonk roots, but Austin is trending in ways well beyond the traditional Texas charm. Millennials are flocking to various Austin suburbs and neighborhoods at a rapid rate. Lonely Planet highlights South First Street in particular. Austin is proud of its underground motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” and South First street is no different. Expect to see large murals painted on city walls and homes that boast the vintage charm so many young homebuyers are craving today. But hurry up. The cool-o-meter has this neighborhood’s home prices rising fast.
Next: Another Northwest neighborhood oozing cool
2. Montavilla, Portland
- Median home price: $389,900
Quiet cool is one of the best kinds of cool. Montavilla is just that, according to Lonely Planet. It is located in southwest Portland, spanning just six blocks. But within these six blocks, you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars, and newly restored cinemas. Montavilla has all but shed its seedier reputation by launching farmers markets, independent shops, and a weekend blues bar. Oregon is a state gaining workers traveling west, and with home prices resting reasonably the time to relocate is now.
Next: The coolest neighborhood in the U.S. is somewhere in Colorado.
1. River North, Denver
- Median home price: $494,664
If its tourism website is any indication, this neighborhood is cool — really cool. Those in the know call this neighborhood just north of Denver “RiNo,” and it has become the center of the city’s art and music scene. Lonely Planet loves that River North still boasts punk rock roots in the Mile High City, and as a former industrial neighborhood you’d be hard-pressed not to stumble upon an art show or a gallery on any given street.
Homes in River North fall in the middle of the pack compared to other cool neighborhoods on this list. More and more people are continuing to migrate to Denver and other Western cities, so those looking for a new city to call home should do so before home prices get any higher.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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