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Adrenaline seekers and nature lovers alike will find something to love in these cities, all of which are located in or near some of the planet’s finest wildernesses. They are places where locals generally love being waist-deep in powder or flinging themselves off a canyon rim whenever the notion takes them. Not surprisingly, many of these destinations also rate highly on lists of the world’s most liveable cities, which credit their proximity to the great outdoors and the active lifestyle their residents enjoy.

Vancouver, British Columbia
This Canadian city is a playground for those who love the outdoors, with its superb waterfront and 30km of beaches backed by snow-capped peaks and verdant forests. In winter, there is excellent downhill and cross-country skiing on the nearby peaks of Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour, and the world-class skiing resort Whistler Blackcomb is only a 115km drive north. Halfway between Whistler and Vancouver, the town of Squamish is a favourite with mountain climbers, and mountain bikers love the rainforest trails of Vancouver’s North Shore area. Across the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver Island is a top spot for bear spotting and whale watching, and the island’s Tofino district, close to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, is a beloved spot for surfers.

North Vancouver, the wider North Shore area and the West Vancouver district are very desirable for families. “If you are an outdoorsy type, you want the North Shore of Vancouver, [which has] skiing in winter, and in summer lots of ziplining and mountain biking,” said Sandra Wyant, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. About 45km east of the city, the town of Maple Ridge is home to Golden Ears Provincial Park and the stunning Alouette Lake, great for hiking, horseback riding, canoeing and windsurfing. A two-bedroom condo in North Vancouver sells for around 840,000 Canadian dollars and houses can reach into the millions, while a similar property in Maple Ridge goes for C$230,000 and a single-family home costs around C$360,000. A two-bedroom flat in the city rents for about C$1,850.

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town’s blessed natural setting between sweeping beaches and forest-covered mountains means almost any outdoor sport is within reach. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans on either side of Cape Point attract world-class surfers who are looking to conquer the pipeline. Up on Table Mountain, there are endless hiking trails and opportunities for winter skiing and kloofing (canyoning through river gorges). Adrenaline lovers can get their juices flowing by skydiving from 3,000m, abseiling down Table Mountain or cage diving in False Bay, which is one of the world’s top places to see a great white shark.

Cape Town attracts buyers who are looking for a particular lifestyle. “Most of our buyers are from the UK and Germany,” said Lanice Steward, managing director of Anne Porter Properties. “Cape Town offers surfing and mountain biking and there is a strong set of buyers who enjoy horseback riding.” The large homes and luxury apartments in the popular west coast enclaves of Atlantic Seaboard, such as Bantry Bay and Llandudno, are perennially in demand, and nearby Hout Bay has horse farms and sea views. The southern suburbs of Constantia, Bishopscourt, Newlands, Claremont and Rondebosch are also very desirable. “It’s a suburban lifestyle with good schools that still allows you to be on Table Mountain in a few minutes,” Steward said. A more rural setting can be found in the towns of Somerset West on False Bay and Franschoek, nestled in a green valley in the Winelands, about 45km and 75km east from Cape Town respectively. The average rent of a two-bedroom property in the desirable southern suburbs and the Atlantic Seaboard is 30,000 to 35,000 rand per month, while the average price of a house is five million rand.

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