Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Towns To Get Up And Go For

Outside magazine's spin on the best towns is a rundown of places for great alfresco living. DeadlineNews.Com put the list to the home value test and found healthy real estate markets in many of the towns.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Unauthorized use of this story is a copyright violation -- a federal crime

Deadline Newsroom - When Outside magazine asks its readers to come up with a list of the best towns in America, chances are they won't be skyscraper canyons or commuter suburbs.

The magazine is pretty much about what its title implies -- living the active life -- without a roof overhead.

Every issue lays it on pretty thick for the thin with stories about buff people working up a sweat with their hot gear.

However, when DeadlineNews.Com took a closer look at this spin on best places, it discovered the towns featured in the magazine's August issue were a lot more than living large al fresco style

Towns where the fit want to get up and go to also often include housing markets in pretty good shape.

While some towns listed for their outdoorsy appeal are pricey resorts, others are affordable places that didn't see skyrocketing home prices during the boom. Most of them were still enjoying home price appreciation this year.

Along with the possibility of developing a hard body, there's also the potential for buying into a healthy real estate investment.

Here's a quick look at some of the top towns, a bit about how they made the list, Outside magazine's own "median home value" for each and, where available, home value growth (or not) for the past year ending in the first quarter 2008, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Washington D.C. tops the list. The new major is ultra-buff, the new National's MLB stadium is the first LEED-certified one in the nation, young entrepreneurs are flocking to the northwest and Chinatown and there's lots of inner-city revival. Rock Creek Park hosts 40 miles of trails, there's another stretch along a scenic canal towpath, and there's even Class V rapids at Great Falls, baby. Median value, $437,700, down only 1.5 percent.

Chattanooga, TN is a former manufacturing town turned waterfront gem. LEED-certified urban renewal along the Tennessee River flows through town with a ten-mile river walk, an aquarium, pedestrian pier, public boat slips and the aptly dubbed Renaissance Park. Locals are planting trees, hanging out at the Riverbend music festival and spending more time in the verdant Appalachians. Median value, $119,900, up 2.75 percent.

Ogden, UT, once a railroad junction in the foothills of the Wasatch, has become a Main Street America town with a self-proclaimed moniker "Adventure Sports Capital of America." Skiing, kayaking parks, mountain biking and a rec center with climbing walls, a vertical wind tunnel and standing surf wave make it so. Twenty outdoor gear manufacturers headquarter in the town where two rivers flow. Median value, $14,700, up 6.64 percent.

Portsmouth, NH, no longer a ship building center from the 18th century, has turned a run down waterfront into a preservationist's dream home. Cobblestone paving remains endearing and emerging musicians and artists are populating independent theaters, a restored Music Hall, galleries, a film fest and live music venues. The beachfront town boasts the first stretch of the 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway planned to run from Maine to Florida. Median value, $318,000, down 1 percent.

Tacoma, WA, long overshadowed by Puget Sound neighbor Seattle, is now a vibrant art center with a University of Washington campus, reborn Union Station, and plenty of waterways for water sport junkies. Don't forget Mount Rainier's snow cone. Median value $228,300, up 1.64 percent.

Ithaca, NY offers ivy league education from Cornell University and Ithaca College, for those who want to their brains a work out. Cardio pumping happens at the walkable mall, around the Finger Lakes and in Treman State Park. Sustenance is legendary at famous Moosewood eatery and sustainability is found in EcoVillage with two organic farms. Median value, 183,500, up 10.63. That's not a typo.

Rounding out the Top 10 were:

• Bourbon, bluegrass and Kentucky Derby's Louisville; $141,600, up 2.73 percent.

• Home to half the globe's old-growth redwoods (and, in the county, one other infamous cash crop), Eureka, CA; $262,250, down 5.8 percent (the figure is according to the Humboldt County Association of Realtors).

• Considered Colorado's last great ski town, Crested Butte; $301,100, up 4.91 percent (according to OFHEO's statewide figure).

• Embraced by the foothills of the Ozarks, Columbia, MO; $164,700, up 3.28 percent.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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