With the final days of 2014 approaching, it’s time to start thinking about the new year. You could be like me and resolve to experience lots of new things, like taking improv classes, getting a pet, and visiting Australia … or you could be looking to make a big life change, like relocating to a brand-new city.
It’s a great time to do it, too. The effects of the boom, bust, and recession in real estate are wearing off and leveling off. So it’ll be a new year, new you, and new city — but which city?
It’s OK if you don’t know yet. After all, the United States is a big country with tons of great cities. Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko zeroed in on these 10 markets to watch as part of his 2015 housing predictions — let’s find out what makes them special.
1. Boston, MA
This smarty-pants city has the greatest minds at its disposal, with more than 100 colleges and universities in the greater metro area. But that doesn’t necessarily make Beantown solely a party haven for coeds. Eventually those students grow into working professional 20-somethings looking to make a life for themselves — and, of course, have some fun at the city’s trendy bars.
Boston has a strong sense of history (check out the Freedom Trail), a great metro system in the “T” (don’t forget your Charlie card!), and tons of young people. The Boston Globe reported last year that more than one-third of the city’s residents are between ages 20 and 34.
2. Dallas, TX
You know the saying: Everything’s bigger in Texas. Well, Dallas just keeps getting bigger. The Dallas Morning News reported that the oil-rich city saw a 3.4 percent increase in jobs since last year in the manufacturing, retail, and energy industries. In the past 10 years, Dallas-Fort Worth has grown to become the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country, right behind the big three: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
3. Fresno, CA
Sure, the California coast is beautiful, but a chunk of its population is moving to the more affordable inland parts of the state, like Fresno. The Fresno Bee says that Fresno’s population climbed nearly 15.7 percent for that very reason. The largest employers in the San Joaquin Valley city include medical centers, casinos, and, in the rural outskirts, agriculture.
4. Middlesex County, MA
Wait, where? Don’t worry, you know exactly where Middlesex County is — it’s a good chunk of land northwest of Boston that encompasses MIT and Harvard (which are technically in the city of Cambridge), Brandeis (in Waltham), and Tufts (in Medford). Much like Boston, this very educated county is one of the largest in New England and has been seeing steady growth.
5. Nashville, TN
You don’t have to be a country music fan to love what locals call Music City (but it might not hurt). Downtown Nashville’s Second Avenue is filled with nightly opportunities to see up-and-coming country stars croon their hearts out.
It’s not only musicians who populate the city, which is also home to prestigious Vanderbilt University and the Scripps Networks company. The Tennessean reported that Nashville ranked seventh in growth among young professionals with college degrees, and the city has seen a 48 percent population hike in the past 12 years.
6. New York, NY-NJ
What more to say about New York City that hasn’t already been said in song, books, or in photographs? It’s a helluva town, it never sleeps, and, as recent mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan named his political party, “The Rent is Too Damn High.”
“It’s like piranhas feeding when there’s a new listing,” says RP Miller Realty Group broker Lee Frankel. “People can’t get in quickly enough, and they can’t wait to see a new listing. Everyone wants a piece of the market and the glamour.”
The competition comes from foreign investors who want to put their money in the city, as well as New Yorkers looking to move, and, of course, out-of-staters looking to transplant and make it big in the big city.
7. Raleigh, NC
Once filled with tobacco fields, Raleigh has become a major metropolitan city with rapid growth since the 1990s. The capital city has also bounced back from the Great Recession — and then some — with a whopping recovery rate of 214 percent, with the main growth coming from jobs in tech, research, health, and education, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.
Raleigh, along with Chapel Hill and Durham, is part of the region’s “Triangle” of cities, which also makes up one of the most intense three-way sports rivalries. North Carolina State University is based in Raleigh, while the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and Duke University (in Durham) aren’t too far away.
8. Salt Lake City, UT
Utah is so much more than just the home of the Sundance Film Festival and Mormons. The state has seriously become a hub for computer programmers, because tech companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, Xerox, and more have opened up offices in or around Salt Lake City, which has led to job growth.
In the past 24 months, the city has seen home values increase, but it’s mostly because it’s a good time to get a mortgage and buy in Salt Lake City. “Utah’s economy and growing population should keep housing demand at healthy and sustainable levels for the foreseeable future,” says Jay Deher, real estate agent at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.
9. San Diego, CA
Besides being the home of Comic Con International and the Anchorman movies, San Diego is a beautiful beach city with some of the best burritos you’ll ever eat. “Our weather is perfection year-round, and you’ll always catch people hiking, jogging, biking, and spending time at the beach,” says Tina King, regional manager at Realty ONE Group San Diego.
It’s also a market on the rise. Downtown San Diego is getting better and better every year and has new condos under construction for folks who want to live right by the action of the trendy Gaslamp Quarter. When it comes to houses, San Diego is ranked the second most expensive city to buy one in, so that means it’s a seller’s market.
“The time to sell a home is now,” King says. “We are also experiencing price corrections, narrowing the gap between the sale and sold prices.”
10. Seattle, WA
Look, it does rain a lot in Seattle, but you shouldn’t let that scare you away. Just be prepared to be shunned by locals if you use an umbrella while you explore Emerald City. (Pacific Northwesterners pride themselves on getting wet.)
Companies like Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and UPS have provided steady job growth for the area, but, hey, Seattlites know how to rock, too — as the home of grunge, which is still popular in the music scene there.
“People aren’t necessarily looking to live in big fancy houses,” says OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “They want to live in the urban centers where the hip restaurants and bars are. They use Zipcar. They spend time in outdoor spaces.”