This is the spot. You’ve nurtured thoughts about it. You’ve even memorized the way the setting sun plays off towering white pines at the corner of your 18 acres. Ah, yes, but how do you find this patch of Shangri-La, especially when land choices have escalated and prices have dropped? Better yet, how do you know where to plant your dreams?

We’ve done some of the homework for you. Our criteria might be the same as yours: We looked for places that haven’t been overrun with hordes of people and still have a small-town feel. We also ensured that land costs were still reasonable, and that amenities—from great restaurants to outdoor fun—were close by. Above all, our picks reflect a notion that the great American landscape still has the type of allure that makes you want to drop everything and buy dream property.

Oh, and don’t worry about the order of these gems; we haven’t ranked them by the level of our affection—we love them all:

Best Places to Build
Red Lodge, MT Red Lodge, MT Sault Ste Marie, MI Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Bisbee, AZ Bisbee, AZ Cortez, CO Cortez, CO
Darvis, WV Davis, WV Presque Isle, ME Presque Isle, ME
Brea, KY Berea, KY Salmon, ID Salmon, ID
Aberdeen, WA Aberdeen, WA Black Mountain, NC Black Mountain, NC

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