Up and coming small cities/large towns

My daughter just came back from visiting a friend in Missoula, Montana. She loved the mix of hipsters/cowboys/outdoorsy types. There were plenty of restaurants and bars. Lots of independent shops, not many empty store fronts. There was a craft brewery beer festival the weekend she was there, which was packed despite the cold and being outdoors. D said there were help wanted signs all over. She and her friend went to a U Montana v. Montana State basketball game, which was packed and lively.

D’s friend moved to Montana after doing most of a year there with Americorp during the pandemic. It was easy for her to find full time work, and her rent and groceries are reasonable. The people she knows seem to mainly be from out of state, both east and west of Montana: Washington, California, Illinois, NY.

Is it just because the university is there? Or is it a combination of affordability combined with excellent outdoor activities and increasing numbers of younger adults moving to the area?

What other small cities/large towns are experiencing a boom?


I would say, Portland, Maine! There is a pretty good influx of young people into the city. My daughter is in an apartment in the arts district, just a couple of blocks from the waterfront. Her BFF and her fiance just moved here from Pennsylvania this past week. The fiance
got a job very easily at Abbott Labs.

My daughter and this young woman are planning on renting studio space for their paintings and photography. My daughter has a job at the Portland Museum of Art and is talking to a gallery about showing her photographs. The number of cool bars and restaurants is amazing. Tonight, my husband and I are taking our daughter to a jazz guitar concert at a small gallery two blocks from her apartment. Our daughter never expected to stay this close to home after graduating from college, but she is really enjoying the vibes in Portland now. :slight_smile: (But please keep telling everyone that Maine is cold and miserable…)


Portland, Maine is absolutely up and coming! Great small city. Don’t tell everyone or they might spoil it!


Couer d’Alene, Idaho seems to be growing.

While not a small city, the Tampa Bay area on Florida’s west coast is booming.

Not sure about Missoula, Montana. Visited several months ago before school was in session. Overall, Montana is a very blue collar state. Not many major employers due to Montana employment laws. Lots of natural beauty; great for fly fishing.

I have several friends who live in Missoula. All moved there decades ago. Big outdoorsmen types who love to fly fish. Probably not a fair assessment as most of our time in Missoula was spent on campus and not in the town.

P.S. Agree that it may appeal more to young,outdoorsy types than to others. Maybe I expected too much.

Just read on Wikipedia that Missoula’s nickname is Zootown due to the frequent wild parties in town.

Many small cities in North Carolina are growing. Lots of young folks moving in.

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I gave the perspective of my daughter and her friend who lives there. So it’s very possible that to younger people, it is becoming an appealing place. They value different things than we older folks do.

FWIW, my D is exceptionally well traveled for a young person and has strong opinions about various places around the country. So I was quite interested that she really liked Missoula, especially in the middle of winter.


Shhhhhh! Don’t want to let anyone know about a certain city in Maine!


Traverse City, Michigan

Becoming really busy, real estate is ridiculous. Sad that it’s losing that small town feeling. It used to be a summer town, now it’s becoming all year town. I would say that’s true of a lot of northwest lower peninsula Michigan


I had to look this town up. I want to go!

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Blue Ridge, Georgia and other North Georgia towns are growing. Very mild summer temperatures (low 70s).

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#2, 3, and 4 in Texas. :wink:

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I expected to see Utah, North Carolina, & Texas locations on the list. I know that Florida is growing rapidly, although no Florida towns are among the top 10 for growth.

I would love to live near an ocean–North Carolina or Florida.

Bentonville and/or Fayetteville, Arkansas

Really, all of NorthWest Arkansas

Has been booming for awhile, but I could not believe all the apartment buildings going up in Bentonville the last time we were there.

World-class museum, biking trails, lots of excellent outdoor recreational opportunities, and tons of great restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries. Flagship university in Fayetteville.


I’m intrigued by some of the places mentioned here. If people know anything about some of them, please share.

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I love college towns! I can totally see the appeal to Missoula.


Another one for Portland. Tons of young people, affordable, good access to fun outdoorsy weekend activities, stuff to do in town… And good employment options.

I’ve known a couple of younger folks who have moved to Asheville, NC recently. Not sure if it was simply a good place to work remotely or if the job market there is good as well.

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My D loves Boulder, CO.


Housing prices are up everywhere, which then means people moving to another area, which then makes that area “up and coming.” so prices go up there and so on and on. COVID work from home has been a factor, short term rentals are a factor, retirees are a factor.

I am in a summer resort town on the coast of MA. It has become very popular. House prices have literally doubled in 5 years and there are no rentals year round because everyone is doing airbnb’s in the summer. I am in a “winter rental.” I drive by houses that are empty all week, because people are buying weekend homes.

I want to find a nice place that is NOT “up and coming” so the rents are stable!


Here is one of the reasons NWA has taken off.