Setting: Gearhart sits 10 miles north of Cannon Beach and 15 miles south of Astoria. Bordered by the foothills of the Coast Ranges to the east and the ocean to the west, Gearhart is sliced in half by Neacoxie Creek (locals call it "the river"). Portland lies 80 miles southeast, Seattle 188 miles northeast.
Attractions: Gearhart's stunningly beautiful coast has great public access. If you walk the beaches here, you may think you're the only person who's discovered them. The area has a lively arts scene, with multiple galleries and performing arts groups in nearby Cannon Beach (Coaster Theater) and Astoria (Liberty Theater). Gearhart's small public school is thought to be among the best in the area, with low student-to-teacher ratios.
Drawbacks: With predominating gray skies, fog, and drizzling rain half the year, the weather might deter some. But locals insist they like it that way. Housing costs are rising exponentially, posing a threat to the town's diverse cast of artsy characters.
Housing Options: In Gearhart proper, coastal cottages abound. Many are older, shingled homes that have either been lovingly restored or are begging for TLC. Two developments-the Highlands (gated) and Pinehurst-offer new, upscale homes on Del Ray Beach. Several condominiums and town houses exist, but they sell fast. There are few apartment complexes but a handful of guesthouse rentals and duplexes.
What It Costs: From Neacoxie Creek eastward, homes sell for $139,000 to $250,000. From the Neacoxie to just west of the town center, Marion Avenue, homes go for $179,000 to $500,000. Marion's west side, closest to the water, runs from $500,000 to $5 million. Pinehurst homes average $1 million, and homes in the Highlands list from $400,000 to $1 million. Town houses sell for around $500,000.
Your Next-door Neighbors: Artists, small-business owners, retirees from Portland or Seattle, schoolteachers, landscape designers, trust funders.
How You'd Spend Free Time: Walking the soft-sand coast, visiting art galleries or the aquarium, hiking in Ecola State Park, shopping in nearby Seaside.