Sandwiched between Humboldt Bay and redwood forests 275 miles north of San Francisco, Eureka (population: 26,000) was settled in the 1850s as a home base for gold miners and remained inaccessible by road until 1924. Today, the town's median income is about half of the rest of the state's, but tourism helps keep the economy afloat, sustaining galleries, bookstores, restaurants, and other businesses. Tucked up at the ocean's edge are the College of the Redwoods, Humboldt State University, museums, parks, a wildlife refuge, and a cottage industry in outdoor recreation: hiking, biking, kayaking, birding, and sightseeing.
The most sought after are ample Queen Annes with plenty of decorative detail. Fine Arts and Crafts—inspired houses, built primarily in the 1920s, can also be found here.
A Queen Anne cottage in need of work fetches about $200,000, and a larger Victorian-era house that's showing its age can go for as little as $260,000. Arts and Crafts homes in good shape run from $240,000 to $500,000.
Why Buy Now?
Home prices in Eureka are low by California standards, and this area, surrounded by protected parks and forests, is likely to remain a draw for visitors as well as old-home lovers.