Lately, we've been posting a lot about the traits of a college town; what they are, what they have, what they don't have, and why some towns with a dominant college or university seem to be lacking the amenities college town flavor that other similarly sized communities enjoy.
Just as there are college towns, there are emerging post-college towns. What is a post-college town? Cities and towns that have the amenities, vibrancy, counter-cultural vibe, young educated population, and collective left-leaning mindset of college towns, but with a fairly low ratio of college students to overall population. These are places where you'll see the local characters, the Volvo and Subaru wagons with roof boxes in every driveway, the young professionals decked out in outdoor gear, the abundant local bookstores and coffeehouses, the organic markets on every other corner, and the bulletin boards loaded with posters for yoga classes, but you really won't see that many students. They're places where, as Fred Armisen said in the premiere of Portlandia, young people go to retire.
So, what are some post-college towns? In my opinion, in North America they include:
- Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first post-college town.
- Portland, Oregon. Do I have to say more?
- Seattle, Washington. Where contemporary coffeehouse culture was born.
- Austin, Texas. Yes Austin has UT, but the ratio of students to townies is quite low compared to Madison, Eugene, Ann Arbor, and the like.
- Vancouver, British Columbia. If Portland had a one-night stand with Toronto, Vancouver would be the resulting love child.
The post-college town seems to be a phenomenon of the 1990s. Was Portland that much different than Denver, Omaha or Indianapolis in the 1980s and earlier?