The United States, by virtue of its sheer size, offers practically every kind of natural beauty the Earth has to offer — mountains, forests, canyons, plains and coasts. No matter what kind of setting you want to find, America has it, and, if you look hard enough, you can find an affordable piece of that perfect place.
Olympic Peninsula, Washington State
West of Seattle lies the Olympic Peninsula, with its rugged forests, mountains and coastlines. If you like outdoor activities, sweeping views of nature or the comfortable seclusion of living somewhere remote, the Peninsula offers it all. The Olympic National Park and surrounding national forests take up much of the Peninsula, but the various towns and cities offer a good variety. Port Townsend has a beautiful historic district and good access to Seattle. Ocean Shores offers miles of sandy beaches. Check out Sequim if you don’t like the rain, or Aberdeen if you do. Land and housing prices across the peninsula are affordable relative to city living, but the wetter, south side of the Peninsula is more affordable than the north, as the area is still charting its economic future after the decline of the logging industry. In the south, housing prices range between $100,000 on $200,000 on average, according to data from real estate website Trulia, versus $200,000 to $300,000 on average in the north.
Asheville, North Carolina
Sitting in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville benefits culturally from a strong college presence as well as a thriving arts scene. The city has a more modern feel compared with the quieter, traditionalist atmosphere of much of the rest of North Carolina, and offers a glimpse into what the state’s future might look like. Housing prices in Asheville have run between $150,000 and $200,000 ever since the housing crisis in 2008, according to Trulia, making it one of the least pricey large cities in America to buy a home.
Alpine, Texas, and the Chihuahuan Desert
If you like cowboy poetry, inexpensive steaks and the raw vitality of the northern Chihuahuan Desert, then Alpine might be the place for you. Situated in West Texas a couple hours north of the Big Bend National Park, Alpine is a thriving college town that attracts students, artists, retirees and, yes, cowboy poets. Thanks to this motley bunch of residents Alpine enjoys relative economic prosperity, unlike many of its struggling neighbors. Housing prices are affordable, averaging from $150,000 to $200,000, according to real estate website Zillow, with plenty of cheaper properties inside and especially outside the city. The wide-open Texas High Plains offer less extreme summers than the lower elevations, and snow every once in a blue moon. Check out nearby locales like historic Marfa, Texas and the world-class McDonald Observatory.
Inland Empire, California
If you like urban beauty, few cities offer the distinct appeal of the greater Los Angeles area. Home to world-class arts and entertainment, universities, science, industry, cultural diversity and year-round good weather, few American cities can compete with the cosmopolitan splendor of L.A. While many parts of this sprawling metropolis are expensive, you can find plenty of affordable places to live, frequently for as little as $200,000. In particular just head east, away from the coast. The eastern cities of greater Los Angeles, such as Ontario, Riverside and San Bernardino, form a region loosely called the Inland Empire, where you can find affordable housing in good neighborhoods while still being within an hour’s drive of almost anywhere in the city you might want to go.
- Newsweek: Washington Retirement
- Olympic Rain Shadow Information and Resources
- Trulia: Grays Harbor County Heat Map
- Trulia: Clallam County Heat Map
- Trulia: Asheville Market Trends
- Texas Parks & Wildlife: West Texas Wildlife Management
- Zillow: Brewster County Home Prices and Home Values
- USA Today: Subdivisions Go Urban as Housing Market Changes
- Loan Safe: Inland Empire Housing Prices Up, Foreclosures Also High
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