The West and Northwest: Astoria, Oregon
If Astoria’s old-house-lined streets look familiar, do not adjust your screen. This town of 10,000, situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, has provided a backdrop for Hollywood flicks, most notably ’80s cult classic The Goonies. Long before that, Lewis and Clark spent the winter here during their legendary expedition—and by 1811, Astoria was an established fur-trading post, then a fishing, canning, and logging center. The Houses With nearly 70 percent of the town’s housing stock eligible for Historic Landmark status, Colonial Revival and kit-built Craftsman homes tend to be better bargains, selling move-in ready for less than $200,000. Why Buy Here? This is Astoria’s bicentennial year, making it an ideal time to check out the place. Property values have remained strong with the recent influx of retirees, and architectural preservation is a priority here. In fact, the local community college offers an associate’s degree in historic preservation. See all of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the Western and Northwestern region at thisoldhouse.com
The Southwest: Downtown Mesa, Mesa, Arizona
Located just east of Phoenix and neighboring Tempe, downtown Mesa (sometimes called Town Center) is home to about 3,000 residents. The area attracts young professionals, empty-nesters, and families with its easy access to the city. The Houses Craftsman bungalows, which comprise the most prominent architectural style, provide cool sanctuary during Mesa’s hot, arid months with wide porches and flowing air circulation. Why Buy Here? Phoenix and its neighboring communities have long been public transportation-challenged, but by 2016, a light-rail extension will run through Main Street in Mesa and into downtown Phoenix, providing jobs, raising property values, and taking vehicles off the city’s congested highways. See all of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the Southwestern region at thisoldhouse.com
The Midwest: Atchison, Kansas
This northeast Kansas city (population 11,000) on scenic, rolling hilltops along the Missouri River retains its longtime downtown businesses, including prosperous locally owned hardware stores, bakeries, and mom-and-pop drug stores. The reason behind this refreshing scenario? Jobs—yes, real middle-class jobs! The area’s largest employers include a textile manufacturer, a hardware distributor, and more. The Houses Victorian-era houses, such as Queen Annes and Italianates, are par for the course, as are Colonial Revivals and bungalows. Why Buy Here? Got the restoration bug and a good eye? “We have an unusual market in Atchison,” says Realtor Scott Noyes. “You’ll often find a run-down $20,000 Victorian fixer-upper right down the street from a restored one that costs $200,000.” See all of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the Midwestern region at thisoldhouse.com
The South: Historic Garden District, Montgomery, Alabama
Twelve short blocks from downtown Montgomery, the Garden District is home to 2,500 residents as diverse as its architecture. Young singles and 30-something professionals are drawn to a community that is ethnically varied, socially diverse, and still every bit as genteel as any small town in the old South. The Houses Once home to many of Montgomery’s early business leaders, the Garden District is a trove of Greek Revivals, Colonial Revivals, and Craftsman-style bungalows in every imaginable condition. Why Buy Here? Montgomery has for the most part escaped the country’s employment woes, thanks in part to a Hyundai manufacturing plant that opened here in 2005 and employs 2,700 people. The company’s success brought several car-parts suppliers to the region, and thousands more jobs. See all of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the Canadian region at thisoldhouse.com
The Northeast: Tariffville Village, Simsbury, Connecticut
In Tariffville, locals are known to hold old-fashioned community cookouts or head to the Farmington River for tubing, kayaking, or rafting. But despite its many pleasures, few people outside Connecticut have ever heard of it. “This place has sort of been forgotten over the years,” says Chet Matczak, president of the Tariffville Village Association. “That’s one of the things that make it such a nice place to live.” The Houses Greek Revivals and Gothic Revivals in Tariffville date back to the 19th century, while the late 1800s and early 1900s produced a whimsical array of Folk Victorians. Prices range from $180,000 for four-bedroom homes in disrepair (but with plenty of motivating character) to about $400,000 for large houses in beautiful condition. Why Buy Here? Tariffville is one of the few places where you can find a five-bedroom home for under $200,000. It’s an affordable hamlet for old-home lovers who want bang for their buck and for families buying for the first time and looking for access to quality education. See all of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the Northeast region atthisoldhouse.com
Canada: St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Newfoundland stands apart from Canada, an island with its own time zone, dictionary of idiomatic English, and buoyant cultural pride. The downtown district of capitol city St. John’s, built in a geographical bowl on a protected harbor, is a knot of steep streets where a local politician might live next door to a scruffy musician gigging at the Duke of Duckworth pub. The Houses: “We love our ‘jelly bean’ houses,” says Dale Jarvis of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, referring to rows of three-story Second Empire rowhouses downtown. Why Buy Here? You haven’t had this much fun with color since Crayola came into your life. Local company Templeton Paints has introduced a line of historic Newfoundland hues; the jelly-bean colors, embraced by owners of the downtown rowhouses, are eye candy—and instant motivation to put your paintin’ clothes on. See all of the Canadian Best Old House Neighborhoods at thisoldhouse.com
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