Setting: On Oregon's north-central coast, Neskowin occupies a narrow strip of land that runs parallel to Highway 101 for about 4 miles. The heart of town stretches a half-mile between the highway and the Pacific.
Attractions: Absence of tourist traps; an excellent private school (Neskowin Valley School); Sitka Center; breathtaking coastline freckled with stumps of 2,000-year-old trees; easy access to Portland and to Oregon's wine country.
Drawbacks: Variable weather that tends toward rain nine months of the year; powerful winter storms (which many locals enjoy); an unexceptional public school system; and very little nightlife. The nearest town is 15 minutes by car.
Housing Options: Neskowin is divided into four main areas: The Village, where families live in charming cottages, many of them with picket fences, bright paint, and easy beach access; the hills, on the eastern side of 101, where homes have more acreage and high-top vistas; South Beach, with its Proposal Rock views, where many of the upscale developments are sited; and the north end of town, near the marsh, where homes may not have beach access but are slightly more affordable. There are no apartment rentals in Neskowin.
What It Costs: Cottages (1920s to 1960s) in The Village sell for $180,000 for a fixer-upper to $500,000 for a remodeled house. South Beach homes cost from $300,000 for an ocean view to $1 million-plus for a clifftop home. Neskowin Crest, an older area on a hillside west of town, offers gorgeous views but no beach access. Houses (1940s to 1970s) range from $250,000 to $500,000.
Your Next-door Neighbors: Business owners, artists, teachers, microbrewery owners, a federal judge, ad agency founders, retired pilots, real-estate agents.
How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Walking on the beach; enrolling in such classes as sea kayaking, art, and yoga at the Sitka Center; hiking the Cascade Head trails; making day trips to the Willamette Valley wine country.