Top 10 Hippest Housing Markets

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Reporting on the housing market feels like reading an EKG monitor--it's up, it's down, and sometimes you just hope it doesn't flatline. But to really get to the heart of your market, it's important to appreciate its finer qualities. By exploring 5 key lifestyle criteria -- culture, arts, music, population growth and sports -- Sperling's Best identified the top 10 most happening cities in America. Click through the gallery to see some hot listings in the coolest markets.

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Hippest Housing Markets
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Top 10 Hippest Housing Markets

Sometimes reporting on the housing market feels like reading an EKG monitor --it's up, it's down, and sometimes you just hope it doesn't flatline. But to really get to the heart of your market, it's important to appreciate its finer qualities. By exploring 5 key lifestyle criteria -- culture, arts, music, population growth and sports -- Sperling's Best identified the top 10 most happening cities in America. Click through to see some of the hippest listings in the coolest markets.

The City by the Bay came in at the top of Sperling's list this year for its flourishing art scene and commitment to the environment. Along with the next two cities on the list, San Francisco leads the nation in LEED-certified "green" buildings. The listing to the left, a two-bedroom condo in the heart of the Civic Center, is just minutes away from SFO's opera house.

This two-bedroom, two-bath, top-floor apartment features a warm, contemporary layout that echoes the city's eco-conscious attitude. The home is equipped with low-flow showers and toilets, as well as new energy-saving floor insulation.

Just a bit of coffee talk: San Francisco has one of the highest rates of homegrown pro-athletes in the nation. Since 1990, about 17 per 100,000 residents have gone on to become professional athletes.

Perhaps the best part of the home is the city it's in. Take a load off in one of these patio chairs, or peer down at the throngs of San Franciscans below.

Perhaps the college capital of America, Boston came in second on Sperling's list thanks to its high education level and diverse cultural scene. But living in a college town doesn't mean you have to be in your 20s. Check out this chic two-bedroom loft.

This 2005 two-bedroom loft fits right in with the youthful energy of downtown Boston. It features 12-foot beamed ceilings, hardwood floors and killer views of the city below from 10 8-foot windows along the perimeter. Pictured left, a shot of the state-of-the-art kitchen with new granite counter tops. 

Another reason why Boston rose to the top of the list is its access to vital health resources like doctors and hospitals -- something families of all ages should value. While the rest of the loft's layout exudes a kind of bachelor chic, this child's bedroom is a gentle reminder that Boston's a great city for parents, too.

Of course, just because you're a daddy doesn't mean you can't rock out. Pictured left, the current owner's other baby. You're never too old to be hip.

Denver may not often get mentioned in the same breath as a New York or Los Angeles, but according to Sperling's findings, this up-and-coming city is shaping up to be a major cultural destination. It features a high percentage of well-educated residents and a focus on environmental initiatives. It's also home to scads of extreme sports enthusiasts, who flock to the city for snowboarding and skiing. Peek inside of this three-bedroom winter getaway.

This contemporary-style, three-bedroom townhouse measures 2,443 square-feet and features a very modern and spacious interior. Clean lines and bold colors define the living space, with richly varnished hardwood floors throughout.

Relax, animal enthusiasts: No wild cats were harmed in the staging of this property. If you're not into the faux-leopard skin rug, you should still appreciate the spacious open floor plan and buckets of natural light pouring into this living room.

Extreme sports fanatics should get a kick out of this happening roof-top patio, complete with panoramic views of Denver's diverse cityscape.

With a strong hippie contingent and a burgeoning indie music scene, you can bet that Portland will make it onto any list that has to do with (counter-) culture. Besides its thriving music scene, Portland also scored in the top 10 cities for LEED-certified buildings and alternative sports appeal. This listing cuts against the grain, with its cosmopolitan/lumberjack aesthetic.

Built in 1910, this surprisingly chic, two-level townhouse has broad enough dimensions for all sorts of creative layouts. It features two bedrooms, 2.1 baths, and a whopping 2,867 square-feet. 

For the full lumberjack experience, this spacious abode offers a working fireplace in the family room. Just remember to practice fire safety. Something tells us this place would light up like a Deadhead fan at Woodstock.

All kidding aside, there's something mesmerizing about this property's well-aged timber. As breezy and posh as some of these other properties purport to be, there's nothing cooler than a historic home with some character.

You may have read the slogan while stuck in traffic behind a hybrid car: "Keep Austin Weird!". But it's more than just a college bumper sticker -- in many ways, it personifies the slightly off-kilter charm of Austin. Dubbed the "Live Music Capital of the World," the city is renowned for its homegrown music scene (and its hip young scenesters). And this handsomely modern three-bedroom home is certainly one for the tastemakers.

This two-story, 2,920 square-foot home was built just last year -- which means everything is brand spanking new. From the hard tile floors to the stainless steel appliances (including a sub-zero refrigerator), this house is move-in ready. 

But Austin's thriving cultural scene doesn't just benefit recent college grads. Sperling's reports that the city also has one of the most well-educated populations in the survey, as well as one of the more stable economies.

Tons of counter space and space-age appliances make this kitchen the perfect space for hands-on gourmands.

"Teen Spirit" gave way to yuppie pride in this birthplace of grunge music. But that doesn't mean that this youthful burg has lost any of its shine. Sperling ranks it in the top 10 for its strong music and art scenes, and appeal for alternative sports fans (think hacky sack meets skateboarding). This three-bedroom fortress may look daunting from the outside, but the interior is surprisingly relaxed.

This two-level, three-bedroom home has extra-high ceilings and plenty of sunlight throughout -- perfect for putting your tortured soul on display in an at-home art gallery.

And when you're not talking post-Derridean thought with your BoHo friends, there's a golf course just around the corner to satisfy your baser needs. Don't worry, we won't tell your artsy pals you're a club member.

Be proud, Washingtonians -- your town ranked the highest in Sperling's coveted "city" category. D.C. tops the list for the best job situation in all polled cities. A bustling art scene is nice, but without a stable income, it's a bit harder to enjoy the theater. (Unless, of course, you're talking about the movie theater.) Peep this sunny two-bedroom townhouse.

In the spirit of National Open House Weekend, locals should consider visiting this luxury pad. The house will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. this Sunday, June 5. 

In addition to being situated in the most stable job market on Sperling's list, the home features a gas fireplace, breakfast bar, granite counter tops in the kitchen, and hardwood flooring.

It may seem unfair to place this California mainstay in the same list as up-and-comers like Denver, but consistency won the day in Sperling's rankings. Los Angeles makes the grade with high scores in the arts, music and hometown sports heroes. This two-bedroom condo has just the kind of cutting-edge, modern aesthetic that helped keep L.A. in the runnings.

Judging by the number of exclamation points used by the listing agent, it's safe to say they're excited about this property. Share in their exuberance this weekend, when the unit will be on open house from 2 to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Built in 2010, this unit features an entirely decked out gourmet kitchen, featuring a Viking appliance suite, new counters and a stainless steel back splash.

The master suite features a custom-built walk-in closet and a deluxe bath made for two.

Philly scored high on the list in music, arts and alternative sports, for all you shredders out there. (Luckily, it also scored high for health resources.) And after a tough day on the halfpipe, wouldn't this three-bed, three-bath condo be a nice place to come home to? At 3,200 square feet, it's almost big enough for skateboard practice.

At first glance, you might think the living-room rug is sending up a slacker salute. In fact it's a hamsa, a Middle eastern symbol designed to ward off evil spirits.

Hardwood floors, lots of light and treetop views keep the bedroom feeling serene. Outside, there's a landscaped courtyard planted with cherry trees. The deck is equipped with an outdoor shower, if you don't mind the next-door neighbors peeking. 

Steps down from the marble-counter kitchen is a living room outfitted with a fireplace, flat-screen TV and our favorite hipster feature--a hidden wet bar.

Salt Lake City and hip don't usually go together in the same sentence, but the squeaky-clean Mormon capital just squeaked onto Sperling's at Number 10 for its high number of young people, healthy lifestyle trends and access to great winter sports. You can see the mountains from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this high-rise condo listed at $649,900. Click through the see the interior.

The eat-in kitchen is a cozy place to hang out, but if you find yourself getting too comfortable you can work off dinner in the building's exercise room.

Mountain view or city view? Position yourself just right on the deck, and you won't have to choose.

Glass-front cabinets and a friendly ancestor add a touch of tradition to the modern interior.

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