By Alison Rice. In contrast to the navy-suited, conformist-thinking, 9-to-5 "organizational man" of the past, the creative class dresses casually, values diversity, and works nontraditional hours in fields such as science, engineering and the arts.
These estimated 38 million workers are also the new drivers of high-wage economic growth, according to a just-published book, The Rise of the Creative Class, by Carnegie Mellon University professor Richard Florida. In the past, Florida says, people moved for jobs. Now, he argues, people move for places, and companies relocate to follow these programmers, artists, and engineers.
This phenomenon has resulted in what he calls creative centers--cities and regions that offer highly desirable workers the innovative and varied communities they seek. And the list reads like a collection of the hottest housing markets: San Francisco, San Diego, Washington/Baltimore, and Atlanta, just to name a few.
But many members of the creative class, married and unmarried, aren't seeking the traditional suburban community. Creative types want "third places," spots other than work and home where they can gather, such as coffee shops and bookstores. They welcome people of different lifestyles--gays, lesbians, bohemians--because they see them as markers for tolerance and creativity. They like areas with everyday amenities such as walkable neighborhoods and active lifestyles.
"The challenge for the housing industry is how to adapt to a time when people want a lot of different stuff" around them, says Florida. "How do you create places where people want to be? Everyone can't live in a loft or in Greenwich Village."