By startingpoint July 15, 2013

On the fence about your next relocation? This article takes more than just the scenic views into consideration when dulling out our top awards of healthiest and hippest places to live. A great school district is important and access to interstates is nice, but we’re looking into the cities and countries that are ranked among the highest in healthful living research. In no particular order, here are some of the places we’ve deemed worthy of the title “Havens” for this week:

Costa Rica – We’re no scientists, but we trust when National Geographic lists Costa Rica’s Blue Zone Nicoya Peninsula, as one of the most healthful places to live, as most of their population tends to live up to their 90’s and some exceeding 100 years of age. Most of this longevity is attributed to their hard work ethic and active lifestyles, as well as being a population that knows how to relax and enjoy their clean and spectacular surroundings.

New Zealand – If you’re into the outdoors water sporting scene, New Zealand is for you. Nowhere in New Zealand is more than a 90 minute drive to get to the ocean; this means you’re always a couple hours away from kayaking, swimming, snorkeling or just breathing in the fresh ocean air beach side. With a life expectancy of two years longer than both men and women in the US, one has to wonder if all of that green and blue holds a secret! Good news for political and economic buffs, in 2011 it was ranked 5th in democratic institutions worldwide and has one of the most stable political and economic institutions.

Sweden – As of 2004, you can pay your taxes through a text messaging service in this healthful country. We knew their massages and chocolate were renowned but also as of 2004 employers were required by law to provide massages for employees! This spot on the map is looking better and better the more we research it! After a sharp economic slowdown, the Swedish house market is geared to recover, using tax stimulus programs and cutting lending rates to as low as 1%. In a country where you’re given five weeks of vacation a year and surrounded by the historically rich offerings of Europe there’s no way we could leave Sweden off of our list!

Portland, OR – With a nice rating for both air and water quality, Portland is one of the most “hyped” places to live in the US, and we agree! In addition to the wind and waters, Portland boasts 516 physicians per 100,000 while the US average per 100,000 is 261. Health appears to be a major priority for the people of Portland, (maybe it’s all of those episodes of Grey’s they’ve been watching)…On the real estate front Portland’s home appreciation rate has risen .85 percent and the median home cost in Portland is $230,000! Worried about the climate? Portlandiers claim it’s not as rainy as the general population thinks it is- with a comfort index of 63 while the rest of the US averages a 44 [on a scale of 100;] Portland’s looking (and feeling) pretty good!