the marina in Old Town, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Photo: Fran Hurcomb
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Old Town, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

Tourists flock to Yellowknife each winter to witness the northern lights—and occasionally strip to their underwear to see if they can endure the city's minus-40 F temperatures. "It's adventure tourism to them," says Elijah Forget, a lifelong resident. Despite the harsh winters, some visitors stay for the long haul. "It's a breath of fresh air," says Forget. "You're so far away from urban centers and highways." Indeed, this remote city of 20,000 between a forest and the 600-mile long Great Slave Lake is about 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle. But historic Old Town, a 1940s waterfront neighborhood established when gold rushers mobbed Yellowknife's mines, offers companionship. Come summer, locals gather at the Wildcat Cafe to feast on daily fish specials before heading to the marina to fetch their boats for a lazy day on the lake.

The Houses
Some of Old Town's houses were built by no-nonsense miners, who used local timber to build stout but sturdy log cabins. Many of those remaining have been clad in vinyl or clapboard siding. Prices range from $250,000 (USD) for a major fixer-upper up to $700,000 for a house that's been renovated with additions and modern amenities. Old Town also has a well-established houseboat community.

Why Buy Here?
The last gold mine shut down a decade ago, but Yellowknife's economy has found new life in diamond mines. This is the capital of the Northwest Territories, so there are government jobs here, too. Yellowknife has one of the highest family income rates, and lowest unemployment rates, in Canada.

Among the best for: Canada, Fixer-Uppers, Waterfront, Outdoor Activities
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