Living in: Great cities for outdoor adventures
Queenstown, New Zealand
This resort town has good reason to bill itself as the adventure capital of the world. Situated on the shores of blue Lake Wakatipu with the 1,748m Ben Lomond mountain towering above, this high-octane and high-altitude mecca is a prime jumping-off point for exploring the South Island’s natural wonders. Not to mention Queenstown is also where the bungee jump was invented in 1988, and you can still take the 43m-plunge at Kawarau Bridge. Year round, travellers come from around the world for skiing, snowboarding, whitewater rafting, skydiving, hang gliding, abseiling and rock climbing. Plus, hiking and biking trails abound throughout the local mountains and valleys.
Queenstown is a two to three hour flight from many Australian cities, and as such, many buyers are Australian. “They want a holiday home in the winter and the rental income during the summer,” said Stacy Coburn, partner at Locations Realty. The neighbourhood of Queenstown Hill, just minutes from the town’s centre, has spectacular views of the lake and mountain peaks, and is especially popular for domestic and international buyers looking for an investment property. The Kelvin Heights suburbs are in demand for their lakefront views and proximity to the scenic Queenstown Trail, a 110km biking trail that loops from the lake to nearby towns, beauty spots and wineries. Away from the lake, the suburbs of Dalefield and Lower Shotover are in demand for their rural homes with lots of acreage.
Currently, the average house price in Queenstown is 568,250 New Zealand dollars, which is one of the highest median prices in the country. A two-bedroom property in the above neighbourhoods costs around NZ$400,000 to NZ$500,000, although luxury homes can cost NZ$1,000,000 and up. The average rent is between NZ$350 to NZ$450 a week, depending on the condition of the property and its proximity to town and other amenities.
- Queenstown News: local news, sport, events and city guide
- Related article: Relaxing in the adrenaline capital of the world
Queenstown’s sister city is the Colorado town of Aspen, named for the quivering trees that blanket the slopes around the ski resort’s four mountains. Schussing your way through the sparkling powder is the premiere reason both outdoor types and the glitterati descend every winter, but Aspen has plenty of all-season activities on hand, from fly-fishing to mountain biking to kayaking in areas such as Snowmass Lake and the Maroon Bells peaks. In summer, fields of wildflowers and crystal-clear rivers are almost as intoxicating as the black diamond trails on Aspen Mountain or the hard-earned majesty of the Highland Bowl in winter. Aspen’s cultural events also draw crowds, including the Aspen Ideas Festival and Jazz Aspen Snowmass in the summer (not to mention John Denver Week every October).
Glamorous Aspen has long since left behind its humble mining town roots, and housing prices reflect the influx of CEOs, Hollywood stars and wealthy jetsetters. It has the most expensive real estate in the US due in large part to the restrictive zoning laws that mean only 13% of available land is allowed to be developed. This has maintained much of downtown’s appeal and drives demand even higher. “The quality of life here is very unique and unmatched anywhere else in the US,” said Tim Estin, author of The Estin Report, which follows the Aspen real estate market. “It attracts sophisticated and athletic-minded people who want world-class sports and an outdoor lifestyle.” The city’s downtown core is close to skiing, and homes in the historic West End neighbourhood are very popular with families. The community of Meadowood has one-acre lots within walking distance to excellent schools, while Red Mountain is a wealthy enclave with views of the aspen-covered peaks. A two- to three-bedroom condo costs around $1.5 to $2.5 million, while a four-bedroom home averages around $3 to $5 million – but the sky is the limit here. Rent for a two- to three-bedroom condo is between $2,500 and $4,000 a month, while an average updated house rents for between $8,000 and $12,000 a month.