You can read a million lists about buying a home—and I could prattle on for days about the process myself—but the best advice anyone can probably offer is this: buy a home in a city that you love even more than the house itself. Never does this ring more true than when it comes to outdoorsy people.
When I started the seemingly never-ending search for my first home, I opted to buy an older, smaller home than others I looked at because it was in a city far better suited for an outdoor lover like myself. And you know what? It didn't matter that my kitchen wasn't as updated as the other homes we looked at or that we didn't get that extra square footage we thought we needed. Because the reality is my family and I almost spend more time outdoors than we do in.
Happily, though, there do exist many cities where you can score a great home for a great place in an ideal location to satisfy your outdoorsy spirit. Here are a few of my favorites.
There's no shortage of outdoor things to do any season of the year in Clearfield. Spend the wintery months skiing and ice skating. While away your summers popping ollies and kickflips at the local state parks or soaking up the surroundings at nature centers. With a median home price of only $152,600, it's no wonder this city tops the 2017 State of the Nation's Housing report on where millennials are buying the most homes.
Comprised of 43.3 percent millennial homebuyers, Mission slides into the no. 4 spot on this year's State of the Nation's Housing report. It's kind of a no-brainer when you consider that the median home price is only $96,100—more than $75,000 less than the national average. Nature abounds in the area, too, with big outdoors draws like the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center, World Birding Center, Anzalduas Park, Mission Nature Park System and so much more situated around the famed Rio Grande River.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Granted, moving to this active East Coast city is going to cost you a pretty penny more than some of the other cities on this list. However, with a median home price of $263,200—just slightly over the average for the state—it's still more affordable than similar outdoor-oriented cities on the opposite coast. And, well, it's hard to beat the benefits: a low crime rate, solid job growth, great weather, and supreme livability. Ever dream of kayaking while dolphins frolic around you? You can do that in Virginia Beach. Stand-up paddleboarding? Yep. Beachcombing? You betcha. The city's 3-mile stretch of boardwalk is a true beauty and encourages beach living at its best.
When it comes to outdoor living, Idaho kind of flies under the radar—but it shouldn't. This hidden gem among cities offers a virtual ton of stuff to do for the outdoor enthusiast. Follow a wooded trail along the Boise River to the Boise River Greenbelt for killer scenery (and good cardio, to boot!). Ooh and ahh over the wildlife at the World Center for Birds of Prey. Stroll through Kathryn Albertson Park in the center of Boise, stop and smell the roses at the Idaho Botanical Garden . . . the list goes on and on. And with median home prices at $175, 800, it's no big surprise that 40.6 of homebuyers here are millennials.
Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina
Neighboring Charleston (aka the Best City in America) gets most of the clout, but that makes Murrell's Inlet an even better choice for those who prefer to enjoy nature in a less congested environment. A "tiny" coastal town, Murrell's Inlet boasts tons of charm. While the median home price is slightly higher in the mid-$200's, it's an ideal choice for those who want to be close to Charleston—without having to pay to live in Charleston (or deal with the traffic). In addition to beautiful Huntington Beach State Park, nature lovers will undoubtedly appreciate the ancient oak-lined Brookgreen Gardens, abundant local golf, and plentiful nature trails. Not to mention all of the coastal activities, such as parasailing and paragliding, scuba diving, world class fishing, dolphin and whale watching, kayaking, biking, and boating.