Everyone knows that some cities are bigger, better, and more prosperous than others. Places like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. are known around the world as being capitals of industry and commerce, establishing themselves collectively as the international face of the broader American community.

And yet, those are not the only cities relevant to contemporary life in the United States. On the contrary, listed below are five of the most "up and coming" cities in America, locations that lack the prestige and renown of some of our larger metropolitan areas, but are certain to grow stronger and more relevant in the coming years.

5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Many know Pittsburgh only as a retired Midwestern steel giant, the cousin of Cleveland and Detroit in the family of the rust belt. But, while those cities are still largely suffering, Pittsburgh actually has one of the most thriving youth scenes in the country. From its blossoming job market (it was ranked as one of the Nine Cities Where People are Hiring the Most by Gallup), to its emerging college scene (the local University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University constitute much of the undergraduate traffic), Pittsburgh is both one of the most desirable and most affordable places to live in modern America, a double-whammy that is sure to see it rise the ranks of national prestige.

4. Portland, Oregon

Seeking out a more hipster vibe? Look no further than Portland, Oregon, Seattle's younger brother and one of the preeminent capitals for college grads and millennials in the country. Not only does the city make up the setting of the popular show Portlandia, it is also the most environmentally friendly city in the country, attracting entertainment geeks and tree-huggers alike to its increasingly diverse community. The music and food scenes are also exceptional, adding even more reason that this small city is next in line to become the centerpiece of the Northwest Corridor.

3. Boulder, Colorado

While many people know Boulder (especially recently) for its frequent and emphatic lobbying for Marijuana Law Reform, what many people don't know is that many Boulder residents also constitute the front wave of the tech revolution. Indeed, Boulder has some of the highest demand for jobs in the country, flying in applicants from around the world to help pilot local start-ups to success. Add to that the attractive collegiate night-life that makes Boulder one of the happiest cities in America, and you have a recipe for the next Palo Alto, a tech superpower ready to take on the world with its commerce, business, and uniquely West Coast charm.


2. Austin, Texas 

One of the perennials on lists like this, Austin, Texas, for years, has been one of the most underrated cities in the country. From its burgeoning tech industry, to its University nightlife, to its native Texas roots, Austin is one of the most interesting, unique, and dare-I-say, weirdest cities in America, a recipe, as it turns out, for economic success. In fact, a recent article in Forbes ranked Austin as the "Next Biggest Boomtown" in the country, a title derived from Austin's job and population growth, which outpace almost every other city in our nation. In other words, not only is Austin fun, it's extremely commercially attractive, making the city almost destined for success in the upcoming decade.

1. Raleigh, North Carolina

And, in the number one spot, Raleigh, North Carolina, another southern belle of a city, but one whose job market rivals any in the country. Indeed, it was ranked number one for Jobs and Careers by Forbes, a title almost certainly conferred upon it because of the unmatched growth of its market. Plus the "Research Triangle" created by neighboring elite universities Duke and UNC Chapel Hill provide just the labor force the city needs - highly skilled, highly motivated, and highly qualified. For that reason, and many more, Raleigh, North Carolina is the number one up-and-coming city in America, a place that should be on the watch list of every investor, capitalist, and young employee looking for a job.