A former lumber town founded by the son of an African-American slave, Centralia has become a haven for West Coasters looking for a Mayberry, USA, way of life. "We have the small-town atmosphere that people love, with corner grocery stores and tree-lined streets," says resident Thomas Jones. Centralia is located halfway between Portland and Seattle (both are about 90 minutes away) and is close to both Olympia and Tacoma. For those who live in Centralia's Edison District—adjacent to the revitalized historic downtown—movie theaters, antique shops, and the Olympic Club, a brick 1915 tavern, are a block away. The Houses
Most homes date back to the Victorian era, including sturdy Queen Annes and Stick Victorians. Craftsmans, many with full-length columned front porches, are also easy to find. The Prices
Homes in the Edison District range from $250,000 for an 1,800-square-foot Craftsman to $600,000 for a massive Queen Anne. Why Buy Now?
Other towns may be watching the foreclosure clouds roll in, but Centralia is undergoing a restoration boom, as 19th-century downtown commercial buildings are transformed into vibrant businesses. Preservation junkies get a warm welcome around here.
Among the best for: Craftsman Houses
, The Northwest