Detroit’s inclusion on this list will come as a surprise for many, if not most readers. At one point, the city was a symbol for urban decay, even declaring bankruptcy in 2013. However, the city has mounted one of the most successful comeback stories we’ve seen in the last quarter of a century. Now, it’s one of the country’s most unlikely boomtowns.

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The University of Michigan made its economic predictions for the city in the coming years and sees a big turnaround: Detroiters are likely to see higher wages and lower unemployment, regardless of the nationwide picture. That’s already reflected in the town’s stellar unemployment rate of just 2.6%, lower than the statewide rate. Housing comes cheap too, with listings in town averaging just $85,000. Moreover, Detroit introduced a down payment assistance program to help lower the barrier of entry to home ownership for low-income residents last year, a program that follows in the footsteps of its popular 0% Interest Home Repair Loan Program, which offers financial assistance to existing homeowners who are struggling to maintain their properties.

Three friends biking together in Detroit
Jesse David Green / Visit Detroit

What’s more, with a slew of projects like the bike-friendly Joe Louis Greenway and the expansive lakefront Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park coming down the pike, the city is becoming greener than ever. Detroit is going big on entertainment, too. Case in point: the incoming Hudson’s Site retail space, a $1.5 billion revitalization of the former Hudson’s department store downtown. The city is also investing to improve its Paradise Valley cultural district and reinvigorate the historically-Black neighborhood with new entertainment focused on Black music and arts. These projects complement Detroit’s rich cultural scene, help to expand on an already leisure-heavy city, which boasts the likes of Motown Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Eastern Market — one of the nation’s oldest open-air marketplaces.

Left: Friends drinking outdoors; Right: Street party
Library Street Collective

Motor City is still making cars and churning out great music, so don’t forget everything you know about Detroit. But the redevelopment of Detroit, and the hardworking locals who are committed to making it hum, are returning this gritty Great Lakes city to its former glory.