smart spending

Secret celebrity hideaways

Taos, N.M.
Taos, N.M.
  • Median cost of a home: $294,400
  • Per capita income: $23,172

Like Livingston, Taos has provided the backdrop for a number of Hollywood films. The area's diverse vistas, untarnished by phone lines and other urban necessities, make it a great place to make movies, including 1969's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

But celebrity names are drawn to Taos for the community's indifference to star power as much as its beautiful landscape, says Cathy Connelly, director of public affairs and tourism for Taos.

"First of all, it's drop-dead gorgeous," she says. "It's relatively isolated, and we're as a community very protective of anyone who wants to come here and be free, if you will, so we really protect people's privacy."

A remote town of just 5,500 residents located 2½ hours northeast of Albuquerque, Taos offers a range of arts venues, opportunities to experience Native American culture and ways to enjoy the outdoors, including skiing and hiking.

The town has long been a haven for creative celebrities, from Greta Garbo to Ansel Adams. As of late, actress Julia Roberts is probably the best-known celebrity to frequent the north central New Mexico town. In late 2004, she bought land from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who still has a home nearby. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, now a second-tier Republican presidential candidate, also lives in Taos County.

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