America is full of amazing cities, hundreds of them teeming with vibrant communities and neighborhoods. Right now, of course, we’re all collectively dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has stretched our minds and resources to the breaking point. However, it’s times like these when the strength and brilliance of our cities and local communities shines through.
Having traveled all across the country, we’ve noted that there are many cities that often don’t get the credit or attention they deserve. For a variety of reasons, bigger, more popular cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco get the lion’s share of citizens, but there are smaller cities with flourishing populations that should be on your radar in the future if you ever need to move or are looking for a great place to vacation (after the pandemic, of course).
In this post, we will highlight three off-the-radar cities that deserve more attention as affordable, vibrant communities with growing economies and unique cultures.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Florida, as a state, gets a lot of love but it’s usually the cities like Orlando and Miami that receive all the attention. Fort Lauderdale, though, is a growing South Florida gem that gets 3,000 hours of annual sunshine and is loaded with beautiful beaches and parks. The city also has a thriving metropolitan area with a vibrant art, culture and technology sector.
Basically, this is one of those cities that will probably be incredibly popular in a decade but still has a relatively low population of about 180,000. For people interested in temporary or permanent moves to the city, Fort Lauderdale apartments offer upscale, affordable coliving communities with pre-furnished suites.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is one of the coolest cities in the Southwest and is always one of our favorite stops on any kind of regional road trip. In addition to the incredible desert landscapes, scenic drives, and proximity to Santa Fe, the city just exudes a kind of spiritual peace. The mountain route up the Turquoise Trail from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is one of the best scenic drives in the country. You’ve never seen a sunset like the ones that light up the high desert plains of New Mexico.
Another great feature of Albuquerque is that New Mexico has become a major hub for the film and entertainment industry. Because dozens of movie development companies and studios have sought to take advantage of the state’s tax incentives, a surge of jobs and opportunities in the entertainment industry have flooded into the state. For young creatives and other professionals looking for work, this has been an exciting and positive development.
Little Rock, Arkansas
This may seem like a surprising pick but Little Rock has been a gem of the South for a while and has seen steady economic growth and entrepreneurial investments over the last couple decades. This includes a community of high-tech entrepreneurs and finance that allowed the city to not only survive but grow during the Great Recession.
Little Rock’s downtown river market area is a bustling cultural hotspot, which was bolstered even more by the construction of the Clinton Library many years ago. And if you’re ever driving through Little Rock, you have to take a day trip to Hot Springs, one of the most fun, legendary southern towns with live jazz, great restaurants, and, yes, real hot springs.
A stop in Little Rock also means you’re also only a two hour drive from Memphis.
The three cities mentioned above deserve more attention. Fort Lauderale is the forgotten jewel of Florida; Albuquerque frequently gets overlooked by people gushing over Santa Fe; and Little Rock always gets overshadowed by more populous and hip Southern cities like Austin, Texas. But if you’re looking for affordable new destinations that offer the same amenities, cultural riches, and communities, these three deserve a closer look.