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Choosing a place to live AND play (or run, bike and hike)

Runner’s World magazine is out with its list of the 50 best cities for running, and unsurprisingly, Boston is #3 on this list. The scorers cited Beantown’s large number of races, running stores and healthy food options as reasons for topping the list, while climate (it IS New England) and safety are counted against it.

It might seem crazy to choose your city or neighborhood based on factors like these, but for athletes and outdoor adventurers (both serious and recreational) it’s not. Many elite endurance athletes are attracted to cities like Boulder, Colorado or Flagstaff, Arizona so that they can train in a high-altitude setting. For recreational athletes, homes near streets with sidewalks or nearby trails can be super important.

I love to run. Before I moved to my current home, I lived in places where I didn’t necessarily feel safe running alone and I had to drive somewhere to get to a trail or area with sidewalks where I could safely run and bike. No fun. When it came time to buy a house, I knew I wanted a location where I could walk out my front door and hit the streets, without having to worry too much and without a lot of hassle. The city I moved to has great sidewalks, lots of quiet streets, and some amazing trails that are perfect for walking, running or hiking.

There are lots of factors to potentially consider when choosing a place to live, including the quality of the school system, the commuting distance to your job and the tax rate. While accessibility of places to play might seem low on the list or frivolous, it’s important to your quality of life. And you’re definitely not alone if you feel that way. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, 140 million Americans view outdoor recreation as an essential part of their daily lives.

So don’t be afraid to tell your real estate agent that recreational opportunities are essential to your home search. And if you’re doing your own research, I’ve found that cities and towns are usually happy to brag about their outdoor offerings (some obvious, some hidden jewels!) on their official websites.

Have you ever chosen a place to live based on the availability of recreational opportunities? Is that something that would figure into your home search? Let us know in the comments below.