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October 2, 2018

America’s Most Affordable Outdoorsy Cities, 2018: Open-air Adventure at Cut-Rate Costs

By Lance Lambert,

When® published its ranking of America’s top outdoor cities last year, it caused a bit of an uproar. Why was Boulder left off, some indignantly asked. What happened to Taos? No Honolulu, no Denver, no Salt Lake City?

No indeed. Because our focus then and now is on the nation’s most affordable cities for outdoor lovers. And that, my friends, is a whole different walk in the woods.

Fact is, while “The poetry of the earth is never dead,” as Keats wrote, these days it can be pretty darn expensive to enjoy. Homes in the places famously synonymous with the great outdoors are often too pricey for mere mortals. But hold on, nature lovers! Our hardy, windburned data team set out to find the top affordable housing markets for those who want to live the outdoor life. Adventure and open-air serenity can be yours, just minutes from your backyard deck.

So what defines an outdoor town, anyway?

“If you see a lot of rugged vehicles with bike racks and hauling kayaks, that’s a telltale sign at the ground level that you’re in one of these places,” says Chris Chesak, a travel consultant based in Cincinnati. “In a conventional city, if you run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time, they’ll say, ‘let’s grab a beer.’ In an outdoors city, they’ll meet up for a hike. The primary focus isn’t sitting around—it’s being outside.”

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