Top Tinsel Towns: 10 Surprising Cities Whose Holiday Charms Are Worth Unwrapping

Accept it, the winter holidays overshadow everything in December, whether you’re a Scrooge or a Tiny Tim. The majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. Along with the joy, there’s the stress: making the frenzied rounds of holiday parties, wandering the aisles of CVS for pre-packaged mistletoe or the last box of Hannukah candles, dutifully enduring the office potluck.

But there are some who truly adore this time of year. They festoon their homes with pine branches, pinecones, and pine-scented Febreze; they install outdoor holiday lighting that rivals the Vegas Strip. They revel in heading to the Christmas tree farm to cut down a fresh spruce, watching “Love Actually” on autorepeat, or going with that special someone to a menorah lighting.

So these folks need to find metros that share their ardor. As it turns out, some cities are more on this celebratory wavelength than others. We set out to find those festive places that go all out for tree lightings, parades, and holiday-themed everything.

“For a city to be really attractive for the holidays, it needs to offer something for everyone—from kids to the grandparents,” says Kirsten Maxwell, founder of, a site about family activities. The events they offer, she says, need to bring every generation together.

The jolly® data team dug into the numbers to find those magical metros that are catnip for holiday lovers. We looked at the 150 largest metros around the country and sifted them down to one per state. Our criteria were:*

  • Google searches for “Christmas Parade,” “Hanukkah,” and “Festivus”
  • Seasonal cashiers as a percentage of all employees
  • Percentage of home listings with a fireplace or chimney (because, Santa)
  • Christmas tree and holiday decoration businesses per capita
  • Toy stores per capita
  • Alcohol consumption rates by state (holiday parties, oh my!)
  • Number of Christmas trees cut down per state
  • Percentage of all flight arrivals between Dec. 19 and Dec. 23 (to estimate how many folks are going home for the holidays)

Best cities for holiday loversClaire Widman

So hitch up those sleighs, and we’ll find you a holiday match. Ho ho ho.

1. Hickory, NC

Median home price: $232,000

Holiday highlight: Enjoy some of the nation’s finest Christmas tree farms … just don’t get run off the road like a Griswold.

Union Square in downtown Hickory, NCWikipedia CC

This place takes its Yuletide festivities seriously. Every year, an 18-foot tree in the mountains of North Carolina is cut down and erected in the city square, where it’s generously decorated. The lighting takes place the week before Thanksgiving—and thousands of community members come out to watch it, and the parade beforehand. It’s a big deal.

So how does it work, you ask? “The parade wraps up downtown, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus light the tree,” says Dana Kaminske, spokeswoman for the city of Hickory. “We have hot chocolate and cookies. And the downtown retailers stay open. All the money raised from the professional floats goes into a scholarship fund.” Got it.

Before December arrives, this town is already in full holiday swing. There’s the Western Piedmont Symphony’s holiday concert, and the holiday kick-off event at the Hickory Museum of Art. Or chill out to a frontier Christmas vibe while strolling through what’s purported to be the nation’s largest collection of “rescued and restored” log cabins, in Hart Square.

2. Eugene, OR

Median home price: $337,275
Holiday highlight: 
More Christmas trees! No. 1 in the nation for piney production

Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater RunOregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run via Facebook

Eugene residents love getting outdoors to run, bike, and hike, so naturally, that’s how they hail the holidays, too.

Case in point: Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run, which takes place here a couple of weeks before Christmas. It’s your typical 5K run, just requiring that contestants be outfitted in that hideous knitted garment an aunt bought them a few years back. If that doesn’t do it for you, try the Jingle Rush 5K, where you’re provided antlers and bells at the start of the run, and hot chocolate and cider upon completion. Heck, the city’s nickname is Track City U.S.A. Winners never quit!

To stave off dehydration, head over to the Holiday Cocktail Party at the Provisions Market Hall. You’ll guzzle holiday libations and beer from local breweries, all while digging Rat Pack-era tunes.

3. Buffalo, NY

Median home price: $166,525
Holiday strength: 
Great for kids, lousy for bank accounts—the highest concentration of toy stores per capita

Even the deer love Buffalo during the holidays.Joel Lim/Getty Images

In the 19th century, Buffalo was one of the first cities to install electric streetlights, earning it the nickname City of Light. They’re still gaga over their lights here, as evidenced by the ultracool display of more than a million LEDs that you’ll see as you drive through the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. More than 15,000 cars wind their way through the spectacle during a two-week period every December.

“This past Saturday, we had 1,500 carloads,” says Marty Biniasz, marketing manager at Erie County Fairgrounds. “Drivers can listen to Ho-Ho Radio and our holiday soundtrack as they drive through.” After all, what would a festival of lights be without Ho-Ho Radio?

The Fairgrounds also has a 3,000-square-foot maze. Once you find your way out, you can grab your Santa suit and head over to SantaCon Buffalo for drinks with 5,000 other Santas.

Did we mention that Fisher-Price, one of the world’s largest toy companies, is based in the Buffalo region?

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Median home price: $171,500
Holiday highlight: 
Hi, Mom! An unusually high number of townies return home for the holidays.

PPG Place Ice RinkLori Kemp/Getty Images

During the mid-20th century, Pittsburgh was a steel and coal-producing behemoth, and transporting those products required a massive network of railroads and locomotives. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that model trains play a big role in the Steel City’s holiday celebrations.

“There were so many [trains] in Western Pennsylvania,” says Bill Humphrey, public relations director and vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. “People think of us around Christmas time, which all goes back to the tradition of setting up a model train around your Christmas tree.”

During the holiday months, the museum opens up and guests pile in to share nostalgia for the city’s past. The museum’s best-known model train is a 1/87th scale model that replicates the network of trains and tracks that ran between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, MA, in the summer of 1952.

But it’s not all diesel and ironworks here. The Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is another December tradition. Luminous orbs, oversized ornaments, and festive lights add to the allure of orchids and poinsettias.

5. Sarasota, FL

Median home price: $350,000
Holiday strength: 
Drink up! Alcohol consumption spikes here in December, thanks to a plethora of parties.

Venice Christmas Boat ParadeEducation Images/UIG via Getty Images

When you think of the holidays, you probably picture snow and snowball fights—not temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. That doesn’t stop folks here from celebrating hard. So if you want the festive atmosphere without the chill, then Sarasota might be your place. Just make sure to bring your boat!

The annual Venice Christmas Boat Parade floats along the waterways from South Nokomis Beach to North Venice Beach. Participating boats are transformed into decorated Christmas floats with lit-up reindeer and palm trees.There’s also the Downtown Sarasota Tree Lighting Celebration and the Jazz Christmas Concert at the Centennial Park.

Feeling wistful for the white stuff? Swing by Snow Fest Sarasota, where you and your children can play in manmade snow. The free event attracts around 15,000 guests and offers pony rides, snowman building, and jelly bean juggling—because why not?

6. Hartford, CT

Median home price: $259,950
Holiday strength:
 A fine place to celebrate eight crazy nights

Winter in HartfordDenisTangneyJr/iStock

Cue the Hanukkah celebrations: Connecticut has one of the highest concentrations of Jewish residents in the country.

To kick off the first day of Hanukkah, townies gather at the Blue Back Square in West Hartford for a menorah-lighting ceremony held by Chabad of Greater Hartford, a community group. Afterwards, they get to watch a live carving of an ice menorah and 3-D dreidel printing. Be honest: You’re curious about the dreidel printing.

“In West Hartford, around 25% of the population is Jewish,” says Susannah MacNeil, associate vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. “We have a very vibrant community and a wide variety of Hanukkah celebrations. And latke tastings.”

Other holiday entertainment in the region includes the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus, which regales the crowds with its annual fave, “Nutcracker: Men in Tights.”

7. Providence, RI

Median home price: $342,450
Holiday highlight: 
Need help with holiday decor? You’re in the right place.

Providence, RIdigidreamgrafix/Getty Images

One of the world’s largest toy makers calls the Providence region home: Hasbro, the maker of Monopoly and My Little Pony. And Providence sure loves its toys.

“The holidays are our time of the year,” says Emily Brownell, manager at Henry Bear’s Park, a mega toystore in Providence.

Providence has all the holiday attractions you’d expect, plus a few extra. You can watch “A Christmas Carol,” which will be performed for the 40th year at Trinity Rep in downtown Providence. Then you can throw on some holiday attire and run the holiday-themed F.I.T. ‘Mas 5K Trail Race-TrailFecta. Want to show the state love even on your Christmas tree? Swing by the visitor center at the Rhode Island State House, where Rhode Island ornaments are on sale. Deck the halls!

8. Salisbury, MD

Median home price: $299,950
Holiday highlights: 
Throw a rock in any direction in December, and you’ll hit either a holiday shop or a Christmas parade. So don’t throw rocks, OK?  

In Salisbury, holiday traditions seem to stick around. There’s the annual Salisbury Christmas Parade, from Mount Hermon Road to East Main Street, which has been going strong for 71 years. The parade includes fire trucks, marching bands, Santa Claus, and Saul the Salisbury Jaycees Bear.

The Emmanuel Wesleyan Church in Salisbury hosts a Christmas Eve candlelight service and a Christmas play called “How to Have the Best Christmas Ever!” Be prepared to take notes.

In nearby Ocean City, which is part of the Salisbury metro area, holiday lovers can enjoy the Winterfest of Lights. This is the 25th year of the event, which illuminates more than 1 million light bulbs. Imagine the electricity bill!

9. St. Louis, MO

Median home price: $189,950
Holiday highlight: 
An exceptionally high concentration of fireplaces. Cuddle up!

St. LouisJByard/iStock

Anheuser-Busch, the iconic St. Louis company, shows its appreciation for the city by hosting an annual Brewery Lights event that runs from mid-November to the end of December. It features s’mores, ice skating, and—duh—beer. Just save the Bud and Michelob Light for when your skates are off.

The classic holiday activities make the city great for the holidays, says Anthony Paraino, director of public relations of Explore St. Louis. “People come into town from all over, just to see the light displays,” he says. Endless showings of “Meet Me in St. Louis” on TCM don’t hurt the tourism trade, either.

10. Lafayette, LA

Median home price: $210,000
Holiday highlight: 
Shopping and shellfish 

Lafayette stands out for its unique take on holiday traditions. This shrimping town bills its season as Christmas on the Cajun Coast. So of course, festivities include a decorated boat parade down the bayou.

“Santa and some of his helpers and the mayor turn on the city’s [Christmas] lights, and then all the kids gather around the shrimp boat to take photos,” says Carrie Stansbury, executive director of the Cajun Coast and Convention Bureau. Delicious.

*Data sources:; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Google Trends; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. National Institutes of Health; and Yelp.


Posted by Lance Lambert on

Comparing Cultures: Homes from Around the World

Granite countertops, outdoor kitchens, remodeled bathrooms – we all know there’s a certain art to real estate. Just like here in America, a country’s culture directly affects the look, feel and styles of homes from all over the world. Even in locations such as Indonesia, Cameroon and the Artic, there are always cultural reasons behind the architecture and why homes are made in a particular fashion. For example, Tulou Houses from China were traditionally built in a circle formation to form a defensive village.

The following infographic from Able Skills compares homes like tipis and igloos to residences like the sukiya-zukuri in Japan and the inkajijik houses of Kenya. Take the fastest trip around the world with the information below:

Posted by Housecall

9 Cities for Homeseekers Who Love Burgers

To celebrate National Burger Month, Trulia put together a list of the best — and worst — cities for burger lovers on the move.

When you’re buying a house, there are many factors to weigh. One you might have overlooked? Your prospective new city’s B.D.I. (Burger Density Index).

In celebration of National Burger Month (and National Hamburger Day on May 28!), we put our data team through the grinder, mixing Yelp, Trulia, and U.S. Census Bureau data to find out the number of households per burger joint in any given city — and how much you can expect to fork over for a home there. The higher the BDI, the more burger-hungry neighbors you’ll have to compete with when you’re craving a sizzling quarter-pounder (hold the pickles).

Our juicy findings reveal the cities with the best — and worst — household-to-burger-joint ratios. Grab a napkin and dig in.

9 Cities for Homeseekers Who Love Burgers

Published on Trulia Blog.

Own Your Own Private Island With NYC Views

Billy Rose owned it, and Lillian Hellman and Marilyn Monroe are said to have visited.

Old-time showman and lyricist Billy Rose — best known for “Me and My Shadow” — knew a party island when he saw one.


He held some doozies when he owned Tavern Island in Connecticut, a 3.5-acre property allegedly named for its use as a speakeasy during Prohibition. Or at least that’s how the lore goes, and the lore is epic for this particular island: It’s said to have been inhabited by European settlers in 1651 and occupied by the British during the American Revolution. Lillian Hellman finished her play “The Little Foxes” on Tavern Island, and Marilyn Monroe is believed to have attended at least one Billy Rose soiree there.

Whatever history the island holds, its trappings are impressive — and on the market for $10.995 million. Located about an hour from Manhattan, its centerpiece is a 1900 Tudor home with coffered ceilings and extraordinary views.

The three-story home boasts 6 bedrooms, 7 baths, 2 offices, an exercise room and steam room.

There’s also a 2-bedroom, 2-bath guest cottage; a boat house with a large game room, bedroom and bath; plus a tea house with stunning nighttime views of the New York City lights.

The island comes with two boats and a half-acre property with a dock and parking lot on the mainland for year-round access.

In case that’s not enough water, the island also boasts a 75-foot pool that overlooks one of four private beaches.

“Of all the homes I’ve seen in Connecticut, this is far and away the most unique and most romantic and just plain cool,” said Rick Higgins of Higgins Group/Christie’s International Real Estate.

Published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.

A Tale of Two States: Kansas City Locals Tell All

Zillow asked locals 15 questions to get the scoop on life in the metro.

Originally published by Tali Wee on Zillow Blog.

Spanning the Kansas-Missouri border, the Kansas City metro boasts an extremely loyal fan-base for jazz, barbecue, sports and more. Whether it be the opening game for the KC Royals or a stroll through the city’s endless fountains, KC locals take pride in their city. How do residents differentiate state lines though? It looks and feels like one city, but exists in two states. Some locals live in one state while working in the other. If you’re relocating to KC, should you find a home in Kansas or Missouri? Does it matter?

To get a feel for life in Kansas City, we asked locals to share their insights.

1. What is Kansas City’s best kept secret?

Loose Park in spring. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Loose Park in spring. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

The City Market. I’ve met people who’ve lived in Kansas City their entire lives and have never visited the City Market. On the weekends the Farmers Market is open and you’ll find fresh herbs and spices as well as fresh fruits and veggies for cheap. Plus, beautiful flowers and meat vendors. There are street performers, a variety of cultured restaurants and foods to try. — Ericka Chatman of ErickaSaves

The parks for sure! There are so many beautiful parks that often get overlooked. Loose Park is an excellent place to throw a party or get married in the rose gardens. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

The West Bottoms! I absolutely love going just west of 12th Street Bridge on First Friday weekends to hunt for treasures. Antiques, repurposed furniture, home decor … you name it! — Meg Evans of Life of Meg

2. Best place to get the KC barbecue experience?

This is highly-contested issue here in KC, because everyone has their favorite place! Right now, though, at least for me, it’s two-way tie between Q39 and Joe’s Kansas City (but only the Gas Station location counts). — Sarah Hicks of StyleB8sics

There are many places you can (and should!) experience authentic KC barbecue. Arthur Bryant’s, founded in the early 1920s, is legendary in Kansas City. Their location at 18th and Brooklyn, near the 18th and Vine Jazz District, is one of the places President Obama dined when he last visited Kansas City. Expect to wait in line, and know that your experience will be more pleasant if you know what you want to order when you get to the front of the line. Gates Bar-B-Q has also been a part of KC barbecue history for decades. They are famous for their shouted greeting, “Hi! May I help you?” which you’ll hear as soon as you enter one of their many locations. Joe’s Kansas City, formerly known as Oklahoma Joe’s, was on Anthony Bourdain’s list of “5 places to eat before you die.” The original is in a gas station, and the line is almost always around the building. — Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

3. Which is the better stadium for catching a game, Arrowhead or Kauffman stadium?

Arrowhead Stadium. Photo Source: Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

Arrowhead Stadium. Photo Source: Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

Why choose — they sit directly next to one another! As one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, Arrowhead is where to be on Sundays during football season. But nothing beats afternoon games at the K for a great family-friendly experience. We love cheering on our American League Champion KC Royals; there’s no bad seat in the house. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc

Both offer super fun (and loud!) atmospheres, but there’s nothing quite like a ball game at the K. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge

4. Where can you find the best live jazz music?

Green Lady Lounge is my favorite! It’s a relatively new bar with an impressively authentic jazz age vibe. — Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

The best place to find live jazz music is the 18th and Vine District. If you really love music and stay up late, you can jam all night until the morning at the Mutual Musicians Foundation. — Ericka Chatman of ErickaSaves

5. Where does your allegiance fall, KU Jayhawks or Missouri Tigers?

I’m a Jayhawk through and through. Rock chalk! I grew up on the Missouri side, however, so I have plenty of Tiger friends. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge

I am a Missouri girl, without a doubt. “Go Tigers!” — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop

6. What essentials must you bring for a true tailgating experience?

Tailgating before a KC Royal’s game. Photo Source: Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

Tailgating before a KC Royal’s game. Photo Source: Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

Sunscreen, your red or blue shirt (depending on which stadium you choose) and bottomless Bloody Marys for those daytime games. — Kim Wallace of

Tailgating is an art form in KC. The best tailgates start early in the morning with a full breakfast buffet, settle into pre-game with lawn games in the lot and finish with plenty of KC strips on the grill and ice-cold beer. Be sure to bring plenty of extra chairs for the friends that show up, and park next to one of the many trucks with a big flat screen TV. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc

7. Is Country Club Plaza or Legends Outlets the best place to shop?

Country Club Plaza. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Country Club Plaza. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Legends is best for family outings as it’s more kid-friendly, and prices are more affordable. Plaza is better for date nights or a girls’ day out on the town. Their shops are much more upscale. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

Country Club Plaza: you can sightsee while shopping! We have tons of pretty fountains and photo opps! — Enza Ketcham of Enza’s Bargains

8. Where are the top areas to see KC’s renowned art and architecture?

Artwork outside of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Photo Source: Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

Artwork outside of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Photo Source: Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

The Nelson Atkins is a world-class museum that is free to the public! It’s my favorite place to take visitors when they come to Kansas City. From there, I would drive by the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Kansas City symphony. It’s a beautiful, modern building designed by architect Moshe Safdie. — Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

The sculpture garden at the Nelson-Atkins is wonderful, as is the breathtaking art inside. There are always fantastic exhibits stopping through. Don’t forget to check out the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. But, the best spot is the local art on display in the galleries at the Crossroads Arts District every first Friday of the month. There’s also a variety of cool street art throughout that district and downtown. As you’re perusing the Crossroads District, look for the KC Star Walk (with stars devoted to Walt Disney and Jean Harlow, who have ties to the city) and admire the stunning curves of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. — Kim Wallace of

9. Where are KC’s best attractions for kids and families?

Worlds of Fun. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Worlds of Fun. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Sea Life and the Kansas City Zoo are very popular. Both Worlds of Fun and Schlitterbahn Waterpark are fun for amusement parks. We love going out to Starlight Theater to catch a show, to the dog park inside of Shawnee Mission Park, or drive out to one of the local farms/orchards to pick seasonal fruit (blueberries in the summer!). — Meg Evans of Life of Meg 

10. Any tips for prospective homebuyers?

Don’t force anything. If it doesn’t work out, it’s because you will find something that is a better fit for you. I love the older homes and condos that have been updated in the Kansas City area. You still get that updated feel with the authentic touches like wood floors. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop

Stay on the Missouri side for the best bang for your buck. Small communities are the way to go! Best schooling, resources and activities for the kids (and restaurants). — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

11. Where can you get the most real estate value for your money, Kansas or Missouri?

I think Missouri has incredible deals and unique neighborhoods. But we are sticking to the Kansas side in order to live in a great school district, which you pay a premium for in Johnson County. — Meg Evans of Life of Meg

Missouri. Everything’s higher in Kansas. Gas, tobacco, property tax. … — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

12. Where is the best suburb to raise a family?

Overland Park, Kansas, is beautiful and easily accessible to KC. There are trails and parks as well as every retail spot you can imagine. The schools are great and the food scene is thriving. — Kim Wallace of

I am a huge fan of the Kansas City North area! — Enza Ketcham of Enza’s Bargains

13. What is the most popular neighborhood for 20-somethings?

Westport Cafe. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Westport Cafe. Photo Source: Kate Taylor of Cooke and Kate

Plaza is my favorite. Also, Westport, Crossroads, River Market and Power and Light area are all fun places. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop

Lofts downtown or around Westport. Close to all the action, and on the trail for buses, bikes and walking to and from the local universities. — Cyndi Wright of MrsWrightWrites

14. Do you have any tips for finding an affordable rental?

Negotiate! Landlords will often work with you if you know how and when to ask. — Ashley White of Le Stylo Rouge

Don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbors or strangers where they’ve found affordable rentals. Referrals or drive-bys are always the way I found my most affordable spots. Kansas Citians are nice and most of the time will be happy to offer recommendations. — Leanne Breiby of Grow Your Giving

15. Why do you love living in Kansas City?

Besides being affordable and family-friendly, I value the traditions and the history that keep people investing in KC. The city is an active and dynamic place with emerging arts and technology, but holds a comfortable Midwestern feel. It’s truly a hidden gem, and I am proud to call KC home. — Natasha Burgert of KC Kids Doc

Kansas City has the big city feel with the small town vibe. The people are nice, the food is great and the community is supportive. — Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop

A Boulder House With Petroglyphs

One fireplace has scorch marks from ancient encampments.

Published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.

It’s easy to see why the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation of Native Americans bought this house in Scottsdale, AZ.

The stone walls bear ancient petroglyphs, including rare sculptural forms, and create sacred spaces where sunlight plays during equinoxes.

A couple from the Northwest built the home in the early 1980s — if “build” is the word for pouring concrete among Precambrian granite boulders and cutting windows to fit the unusual contours of weathered stone.

They lived there more than two decades, then sold it in the mid-2000s to the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation, which expected to use it as a retreat center but found it was too far from their community. It’s now on the market for $4.2 million.

Looking at the pile of boulders, it’s hard at first to pick out the 5-bedroom, 2.5-bath home among them.

It sits on 9 acres in the Sonoran Desert and includes amenities that prehistoric people would have enjoyed — fireplaces and mountain views — plus some they would not, such as double ovens, a super-wide stainless steel refrigerator and a master suite with a combined deep tub and shower.

The guest room has a private patio entrance and a natural fireplace with scorch marks believed to have been left by Native American encampments.

These boulder formations also created the landscape of the famous Boulders Resort & Spa nearby, said Preston Westmoreland, the listing agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.

Tonga’s Got a Brand New Island. So, Uh, What’s It Worth?

We can’t remember the last time the planet Earth got a new landmass, so we were fascinated by the story of a new island sprouting in the South Pacific. Thanks to explosive volcanic activity, Tonga has a new neighbor about 40 miles north.

The first man to set foot on the new island, an intrepid photographer named GP Orbassano, told ABC Australia, “It’s not every day a new island appears in the middle of the ocean.”

Truer words, GP, truer words.

And while we’ve done our fair share of reporting on the allure of private islands, we’ve yet to see a new kid on the block, so to speak.

Intrigued by the true value of this fresh piece of rock, we reached out to Private Islands CEO Chris Krolow for his appraisal of the island. With over 750 islands for sale or rent in his portfolio, Krolow knows how to place a dollar figure on places where the sands are yours and yours alone.

He hears word of about 20 new islands a month, though islands this new don’t cross his desk every day.

Krolow said you’ll need to have a decent-size bankroll—and good luck securing a loan for a place that’s just got its head above water.

“Operating on the assumption that it isn’t underwater in a year, I’d say the following: Tonga’s islands are leasehold because the land is owned by the government, so the buyer is taking out a lease that I’d estimate would range from $750,000 to $1 million,” he said.

Besides the island’s size (just about a mile long), a number of factors go into pricing it. Krolow told us “proximity from mainland or airports, availability of drinking water, availability of nearby staff, general island features, and quality of beaches” all play a part in arriving at a final price tag.

And while agents who sell houses can consider comps when pricing a home, private islands are like snowflakes. Each one is different, so how do you set a price for a place beyond compare?

Krolow acknowledged the challenge he faces, but he said he has 15 years of sales data to draw on.

“Sometimes appraisals can be challenging if the property is rare and there aren’t any comparables to help set a price range,” he said.

Setting aside the comps conundrum, if you’d like to plant roots in some of the freshest land in the whole entire world, be prepared to drop about seven figures for your own slice of Pacific paradise.

Published by Erik Gunther on