When a New York City neighborhood is up and coming, it presents an opportunity to buy into a market and maximize your future upside.

So how do you go about identifying an up and coming neighborhood in New York City? There are 5 key factors that you should keep a close eye on. In this guide, we're going to help you understand how to identify these important neighborhood traits and how to keep the pulse on rapidly evolving neighborhoods.

1. There is a strong presence of an art scene.

One trait that all great up and coming neighborhoods in New York City share is the presence of artists and their craft. Artists generally seek out neighborhoods and make them vibrant before the neighborhoods ever become mainstream.

Consider some of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, such as the West Village, SoHo and TriBeCa. These neighborhoods were all artist enclaves once upon a time. Painters, sculpture artists and musicians would rent out large industrial lofts and make them their creative homes. Once the neighborhoods were seen as being more trendy and safe, artists would be forced to compete for space with non-artists. When this occurs, developers start coming in and buy up the land to convert it to high-end rentals and condos.

This ultimately results in a noticeable neighborhood transformation, and it also results in a boon for property values. Buyers who buy in early are rewarded handsomely for their foresight. When exploring a neighborhood, look for murals on walls, art galleries and a generally artistically inclined crowd. You can find them at coffee shops (see below).

For a deeper read into how the growth of an artist community transformed a neighborhood, take a look at one of our favorite write-ups: Want a Good Investment? Follow the Art!

A mural in Bushwick, Brooklyn

A mural in Bushwick, Brooklyn

2. Restaurants & coffee shops are plentiful.

You would be hard pressed to find an up and coming neighborhood in New York City that did not have its fair share of restaurants and coffee shops. Often it's these type of establishments that attract people to these respective neighborhoods long before they would ever consider living there or even buying property.

Why do good restaurants and coffee shops come out to up and coming neighborhoods? Besides these neighborhoods being reflective of the experimental nature that these entrepreneurs bring to the table, up and coming neighborhoods also have much cheaper commercial rents. This enables upstarts to get going and in turn also attracts a new customer base from all across the city.

One of our favorite techniques to explore up and coming neighborhoods is to pick a good restaurant or coffee shop in a neighborhood via the Google Maps App or Yelp and pay it a visit. Enjoy your food and libations, and following this experience simply walk a five block radius around this locale. You will get a strong sense for what is going on in the neighborhood. Is there more retail? More artisan food purveyors? What about people living there? You'll find all this out on your walk and it will help give you a gauge on the state of the neighborhood.

What types of coffee shops and restaurants are we talking about? Check out this 3 Minute Guide to Bushwick to learn more.

Colina Cuervo - A coffee shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Colina Cuervo - A coffee shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

3. Boutiques that sell clothing, jewelry and other crafts are in the neighborhood.

This relates closely to the presence of coffee shops and restaurants. The reason you will want to look for boutiques is that they represent entrepreneurs investing in the neighborhood's future. New retail drives new visitors, which brings money into the neighborhood. Without people investing into a neighborhood on a retail level, there will be limited future investments on an infrastructure level.

When boutiques are present, they are a reflection of the spirit that the neighborhood is emitting. It's no different than the energy that people associate with New York City. Neighborhoods also have pockets of energy and they can often be defined by their retail mix. Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn used to be lined by purely boutiques. Now there is an Apple Store, Whole Foods Market and J. Crew. The boutiques preceded these larger retailers.

4. Up and coming neighborhoods will have entire blocks lined with construction projects.

When you're in an up and coming neighborhood in New York City, you will see construction on nearly every other (or every block). You will see ground-up developments, where new buildings are being constructed from scratch. You will also see industrial lofts get converted for residential use. Whether they be rentals or condos, these buildings are attracting new residents to the neighborhood.

New residents bring their disposable incomes and drive up median incomes in the neighborhood. As more residents move to the neighborhood, there will also be increased needs for improvements to infrastructure, which also results in additional construction projects.

For more context on how construction is beneficial for a neighborhood's growth and development, check out Why the Sound of Construction is Music to my Ears.

5. Access to public transportation is always around the corner.

Up and coming neighborhoods must have access to public transportation, preferably to subway lines. Without access to subway lines, neighborhoods become inherently isolated. Subway lines are like the arteries of the city and they are able to take people throughout the city and into specific neighborhoods. Well-running subway lines will help ensure that residents and visitors alike are able to easily access a respective neighborhood.

So what is the point of seeking out up and coming neighborhoods?

For one, up and coming neighborhoods are a great opportunity to explore a part of the city with which you may not be so familiar. Part of the excitement of these neighborhoods is that there is a lot of heritage that's already been there for decades. Seeing the fusion of an original neighborhood with a new wave creates an energetic atmosphere.

Another important reason for potentially seeking out these types of neighborhoods is to search for value when it comes to buying property. Whether it be a condo or an entire brownstone, buying in these neighborhoods will yield significant upside in a short period of time, as compared to the rest of the market. It's not uncommon to see 20% spikes in property valuations in a single year. 

Now that you know what to look for, go out and explore!

Some neighborhoods to consider for your exploration: 

  • Bushwick
  • Bed-Stuy
  • Crown Heights
  • Prospect Heights
  • Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Check out our other guides here.