Another Top-10 List — Most Affordable Outdoors Towns in America

We love our outdoors across America, but many of the markets are so pricey today that participating in outdoor activities is relegated to just one or two weeks during the vacation.  Median home prices in Boulder, Colorado hit $570,000 in June 2017, Vail (Eagle County) $660,000. Telluride (San Miguel County) $735,000, and Aspen (Pitkin County) $2.425 million.  With the U.S. median home price now at $263,800, each of the aforementioned town’s home prices were more than double that of the country.

So where do people need to go to afford a home in a market with great outdoors activities?  To answer that, put together a methodology to identify where the words AFFORDABLE and OUTDOORS could be used in the same sentence.  Their selection criteria included the following:

  • Number of National Parks within a 4-Hour Drive – Google Maps
  • Number of State Parks or Beaches Within a 1-Hour Drive – Google Maps
  • Restaurants With Outdoor Seating – Yelp
  • Annual Months of Mild Weather With Daily Highs 60 to 80 Degrees – National Weather Service
  • Bicycle-Friendliness Ratings – League of American Bicyclists
  • Median Home Prices  Less than $300,000 – com

Their findings are shown in the following table.  In addition to median home prices, also added are the latest 12-month job growth rates as of June 2017.  One-half of these markets had job growth rates greater than the U.S. 1.55 percent and one-half were less.

8-7-17 table

Several of these locales are major college towns.  Just one is West of the Mississippi – Chico, California.

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For me (and my dislike of the cold and snow), they also needed to add fewest number of days of freezing weather to the selection criteria.

Just my two cents.

For me?  Galveston, Texas is just one hour from Houston with a current median home price of $183,000.  That one gets my vote.   Tell me your favorite and affordable outdoors city in America – but only if the median home price is less than $300,000.



  1. Keith Gumbinger

    It would seem to me that while the criteria used for the intersection of affordable and outdoors is fair enough, the study might have used one additional criteria that included the outdoor space people use the most: their own yards.

    Sure, driving to a national park 4 hours away (or other parks, or beaches or restaurants) sounds great, but lots of people who enjoy being outside don’t go much father than their own backyards.

    A measure that included not only home price but reckoned or included the size of the typical property might have changed the picture or mix of cities somewhat; another consideration might have been to incorporate town or county parks into the equation. In some areas, these provide greater value in terms of regular outdoor activity opportunities.

    I wish that the rankings included information on how the items were weighted for importance, too — your preference for number of days below freezing might be flipped for those who like ice fishing, skating and skiing, for example.

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