smart spending

Secret celebrity hideaways

Livingston, Mont.
Livingston, Mont.
  • Median cost of a home: $168,600
  • Per capita income: $22,336

When former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger needed to get away after the collapse of his marriage and a spate of bad press, he escaped to Livingston. Celebrities appreciate the tranquil allure of the city that used to be the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

"You've got this pristine beauty; it's on the Yellowstone; it's quaint; it's really genuinely friendly and people just treat you like people," says Lou Ann Nelson, executive director of the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce. "There are no autograph hounds."

A century ago, actors including Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane began flocking to this dusty Western getaway on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Jimmy Buffett wrote a song called "Livingston Saturday Night," and more recently a number of stars have bought second homes in the area, including actors Dennis Quaid, Michael Keaton, Peter Fonda and Jeff Bridges.

The influx of performers has led to an artsy vibe in the community of fewer than 8,000 residents. Livingston boasts more than 15 art galleries and museums. Those more interested in some time under the sun can go river rafting, hiking or camping. Fly fishing is popular, too, as Livingston is home of the Federation of Fly Fishers.

Though they stay in Livingston to relax, some actors first come for work. Several well-known Westerns were shot nearby, and Robert Redford's 1992 film "A River Runs Through It" and 1998's "The Horse Whisperer" were shot there also.

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