By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
Your home can be a sanctuary from the stressful and an interior refuge from the rat race pace of urban living. But if your area lacks Mother Nature-friendly amenities and opportunities for al fresco adventures, it may be time to consider relocating to a new location that boasts better outdoor features.
“Most human beings are overwrought with technology and the need to be connected every second of their lives. As this trend continues, I get a lot of people calling me who are looking for ways to escape all this, especially since the pandemic hit,” says Kristen Conti, broker/owner of Peacock Premier Properties. “Today, particularly with the ability to work remotely, people are more concerned than ever with access to the outdoors. They want to be in places that help them stay balanced, get better exercise and mental clarity, and enjoy a higher quality of life outside of four confining walls.”
Symeria Palmer, a livability expert with Development Counsellors International, a firm that specializes in economic development, tourism, and talent attraction marketing, notes that living close to or in nature can have tremendous health benefits.
“As seen during the coronavirus crisis, living in larger metros with smaller living quarters and limited access to green spaces can result in negative health impacts,” she says. “That’s a key reason why many people are increasingly turning to the great outdoors, as fresh air and general outdoor activities have been linked to overall physical and mental wellness.”
While anyone is potentially a good candidate for moving to a new area that boasts better outside opportunities, remote workers and those who require a more natural setting for health reasons are the worthiest prospects.
“Those who also have a passion for the outdoors should relocate, as should people who work in high-stress industries or suffer from chronic illnesses. Simple daily activities like walking in a park near your home can relieve stress levels,” adds Palmer.
In a recent study by Ownerly on the best cities for remote workers who love the outdoors, Santa Cruz, California, came out on top with access to beaches and nearby state parks.
“There are plentiful outdoor activities in the area, such as birding, butterfly-watching, disc golf, and proximity to redwoods,” explains Kerry Sherin, a consumer advocate for Ownerly.
Cities throughout Florida are continually recommended, too.
“I think the Gulf and Atlantic coasts offer great opportunities for all kinds of warmer fun-in-the-sun amenities during the longer winter months experienced elsewhere,” says Todd Ulmer, team manager for RE/MAX Properties of the Summit in Frisco, Colorado. “I recommend looking at Naples, Venice, and various keys like Manasota and Sanibel on the Gulf side; on the Atlantic side, look between Jensen Beach and Delray Beach for a quality waterfront lifestyle property.”
If you’re seeking a combination of city life and wilderness, Seattle can be the perfect destination, according to Wesley Willoughby, a real estate specialist with Benchmark Realty in Nashville.
“Or, if you love the small-town feeling but still need to live close to all the major draws of a metropolitan area, Boulder, Colorado, can be the right fit. The city has put tremendous effort into preserving green and open space since the 1970s, and you can enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, biking, and other exciting activities there,” explains Willoughby.
Palmer, who has done extensive research on the best areas for outdoor living to relocate to, nominates several strong contenders.
“One study reveals North Dakota as the happiest state in the U.S. due to its open spaces, beauty, and the highest number of national parks per square foot,” she says. “U.S. News & World Report recently recognized Fairfax County, Virginia as the top community for mental health, thanks to the region’s myriad outdoor pursuits like bike paths and a climate conducive to outdoor play all year round.”
Telecommuters would do well to explore Chattanooga, Tennessee she adds; the area is popular among rock climbers and boasts the picturesque Chattanooga Riverwalk – a 16-mile trail along the Tennessee River. Meanwhile, nestled in the beautiful Pikes Peak region near the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs ranks as the best spot for young professionals, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“Also, with 220 days of sunshine every year, 1,100 miles of shoreline, and 87 miles of pristine coastal beaches, Outside Magazine listed Jacksonville, Florida as one of the most livable cities,” Palmer continues. “And Redding, California, is known to be the ‘unofficial capital of kayaking’, while Rockford, Illinois is known as a top city for gardens.”