5. Fairhope, Alabama
List price: $689,900
Southern charm with a beach vibe best characterizes this 3,689-square-foot house situated on 1.5 acres on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Amenities of this 5-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath home include a custom kitchen, guest suite with full bath and kitchenette, saltwater pool, stone hot tub and outdoor kitchen.
Listing agent Christi Mossburg of RE/MAX By the Bay says Fairhope's origin as an artist colony lives on in its unusual approach to homeownership.
"Fairhope is a single-tax colony; the founders of Fairhope designed certain areas of Fairhope where the colony still owns that property," she explains. "So when you buy certain properties in Fairhope, you don't buy the land; you purchase a 99-year lease. I think there's only 1 other like it in the country."
The average home price is $235,000, according to Realtor.com.
What makes Fairhope special?
Southern charm aside, the growth of Mobile manufacturing firms, including the shipbuilder Austal and airliner giant Airbus, has put tiny Fairhope on the homebuying radar.
"We're seeing lots of white-collar people moving here, and when they look in Fairhope on the water, they cannot believe how reasonably priced it is compared to other markets," Mossburg says. "The charm of the area just makes for a great quality of life."