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These Are The 10 Most Creative Cities In America

Do you have artistic talent? A flair for the creative? The gift of music? Then these 10 cities are calling your name.

Laura Allan

112 articles, 1 comments

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Creativity is something highly valued in today’s society. Whether you’re finding new ways to present a product to the masses, writing the best screenplay ever, or capturing emotion with the movement of a paintbrush or violin bow, being creative can be lucrative and deeply satisfying. And it makes sense that creative types would want to stick together, right?

But where exactly are all these imaginative types congregating? That’s what we here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog set out to discover. So we did a little creative, but numerical research, and were able to pin down the 10 most creative cities in the nation.

Those completely creative cities were:

1. San Francisco, CA
2. Orlando, FL (tie)
2. Portland, OR (tie)
4. St. Louis, MO
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Denver, CO
7. Seattle, WA
8. Cincinnati, OH
9. Pittsburgh, PA
10. Rochester, NY

That No. 1 really shouldn’t surprise you, and we’re willing to bet a lot of others make sense to you as well. But Denver? Pittsburgh? If you’re scratching your head over a few of these, you can scroll to the bottom of this article to read more about how we created this ranking using business listings and census data.

You can also check the table at the very bottom to see where your hometown ranked in the creativity department. In the next sections, though, we’ll take a look at each of our imaginative top 10, to see why each one ranked exactly where it did.

1. San Francisco, CA

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user torbakhopper

Really, is anyone shocked this place is No. 1? Well, if you are, you really shouldn’t be. This Northern California city was head and shoulders above the rest in the creativity department, particularly in performing arts, where it ranked No. 1 in the nation.

But the stellar scores don’t stop there. This place also had the most art schools, the most music stores and teachers, and the most galleries per capita.

Most telling of all, the 14th most people here worked in an artistically creative industry. So no matter what sort of creative career or lifestyle you’re involved in, San Francisco and its really innovative locals can definitely cater to your needs.

2. Orlando, FL

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user nate bolt

Tied for second with Portland, Orlando might have been a bit of a surprise on this list. Well, except maybe to locals who already know just how creative this city is.

If you’re looking for art supplies for your next painting, they have the second most art supply stores per capita. If you’re an aspiring actor, they have the third most performing arts. Heck, if you’re just looking to improve your skills and learn more, they have the third most bookstores and the fifth most colleges and universities.

As far as making your experimental side into a career, this city can help out a ton. The fourth highest percent of workers in the country work in arts, entertainment, and recreation here, at a whopping 18 percent.

2. Portland, OR

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user egazelle

This city making our list probably wasn’t much of a surprise either. Over 11 percent of locals worked in arts and entertainment, which might have something to do with that hipster vibe we keep hearing about. Well, that and the eighth most art schools per capita in the nation.

People here weren’t shy about their creativity either. The seventh most people gave a Like to arts and music on Facebook, and the second most music instructors called this place home. Throw in there a ton of galleries, bookstores, and art supply stores, and you have one very artsy place.

We’re even willing to bet most will claim that Portland was artsy before it was cool.

4. St. Louis, MO

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user United Way of Greater St. Louis

Given that this Missouri city has such a strong tie to music (come on, even its hockey team is called The Blues) it makes total sense that the locals would embrace creativity. There were a ton of music instructors and stores, the third most art supply stores, and even the 11th most performing arts.

This was also an ideal place for learners. There were a whole bunch of colleges and universities, as well as a fair amount of art schools. On top of that, the eighth most bookstores populated this city with a wealth of creative knowledge.

All of this led to St. Louis having the ninth highest percent of the population in the arts and entertainment industry.

5. Atlanta, GA

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user John Stavely

Atlanta may not automatically be thought of as a creative city, but the numbers show that it might be time to change that assumption. This place was fantastic for those with a creative mind, from the fourth most art schools to the seventh most performing arts per capita.

There was so much more, though. The fifth most galleries, the seventh most bookstores, and the 11th most music stores called this city home. And locals can help perfect their talents at any one of the seventh most colleges and universities.

And for those on the career path of creativity? This Georgia city had 11 percent of their workers in the arts and entertainment industry.

6. Denver, CO

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Wayne Palmer

Colorado? Creative? You bet! This place is all about its love for all things innovative and expressive. You just have to look to the very proud fourth most Facebook Likes for arts and music to know that these people are all about creativity.

Really, Denver was just super solid across the board. It had the 10th most art supply stores, the eighth most galleries, the sixth most art schools, and the 15th most performing arts. All that makes sense, seeing as the 15th highest percent of arts and entertainment workers live there.

And for those not yet in a career, there are plenty of coplleges where you can learn more, the 15th most per capita in America.

7. Seattle, WA

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user James Allenspach

This place might be known as a rather sophisticated city, if not a consistently rainy one, and the creativity stats actually seem to back that up. The sixth most galleries, the second most bookstores, and the fourth most performing arts show that this Washington locale is full of those who appreciate creativity in others.

Of course, people value creativity in themselves here too. The second most art schools and the fourth most music stores and instructors indicate that locals are all about improving their abilities through practice and training.

Folks here were also proud of their creative culture, with the fifth most Facebook Likes for arts and music.

8. Cincinnati, OH

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user rawartistsmedia

For those looking to get out their paintbrushes and start making magic, Cincinnati is an ideal starting point. Why? The main reasons were the ninth most galleries and the most art supply stores per capita in the nation, so you can get inspired and get right to work easily.

The performing arts saw a lot of love here too, though. The ninth most performing arts called this place home, as did the eighth most music stores and instructors. Throw in the eighth most colleges, and you’ve got a great place to learn.

You might be wondering if there are any creative career options here, though. Lucky for you, there are. Nearly 12 percent of workers here were employed in the arts and entertainment field.

9. Pittsburgh, PA

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user Matthew Dailey

This was another of those cities that was just solid in every area. From the 10th most colleges to the 12th most art schools, this was an ideal place for the creative types to hone their skills to a fine art. In fact, having the eighth most art supply stores makes it easy to find materials you can use to create.

For those who appreciate creativity, there was plenty to see and do here. The fifth most bookstores and 10th most performing arts are sure to entertain, and the 14th most galleries are bound to inspire creativity in others as well.

Even musicians can find their niche here, given the 18th most music stores and instructors per capita.

10. Rochester, NY

Most Creative Cities In America

Source: Flickr user kbrookes

Though it came in at No. 10 on our list, this New York city (not to be confused with New York City) is still all about experimenting and creating. For example, Rochester had the ninth most art supply stores and the 12th most book stores, meaning that you can both appreciate art here as well as make your own.

Where this place really excelled, though, was in being a great environment for practicing and learning. Rochester had the most colleges per capita, as well as a huge number of art schools. There was even a fair number of music instructors for those who need a helping hand.

And if you’re just looking to bask in the creativity of others, you can just visit any of the 18th most galleries in the nation.

Creativity At Its Finest

No matter if you hold a flute, a brush, a pen, or a microphone, there are just some cities that are better suited to the needs of a creator. After all, how better to improve your own creativity than to indulge in that of others around you? Well, if that’s what you’re after, these are the 10 cities to go to.

Looking to move to someplace more creative? Don’t hesitate to ask us for help. We sell houses, and we’re sure we can help you find that special, unique place that’s ideal for your goals, as an artist or otherwise.

How We Created This Ranking

This may have been a creative ranking, but we did it strictly by the numbers. In order to create this Big Deal List, we turned to business listings, social media, and the American Community Five-Year Survey (2009-2013) for information. First, we found the 100 largest cities in the nation, as we were just focusing on heavy hitters today. Then, we found data in the following all-important criteria:

  • Art supply stores per capita
  • Music stores and instructors per capita
  • Galleries per capita
  • Art schools and programs per capita
  • Book stores per capita
  • Performing arts per capita
  • Colleges and universities per capita
  • Facebook Likes for “arts and music” per capita
  • Percentage of the working population in arts, entertainment, and recreation

We omitted any place that did not have data in any one of those criteria. From there, we ranked each place in each category from 1 to 100, with scores closer to one being more creative. Then, we averaged each place’s scores into one overall Big Deal Score. The place with the lowest number for that average became our most creative city, which is why San Francisco ended up with the crown.

Most Creative Cities

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posted on: February 4, 2015
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