North PoleAs we count down to mere single digits before Christmas Day, what better town to visit than North Pole, Alaska, where we’ve found a renovated Midcentury cabin surrounded by trees?

That’s right, North Pole.

Now, purists will say that the town, with a population of a little more than 2,000, just 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks is not the true North Pole, but hundreds of thousands of children each year send their Santa letters there just the same, and thousands of people ship their Christmas cards to the post office there just so they can have the town’s postmark on the envelopes.

The charming community also responds to letters addressed to 1 Santa Claus Lane, too, and the city’s fire trucks and ambulances are all red, and the police cars are green and white.

And just in case you don’t think that’s Christmassy enough, there’s a current version of a trading post established when the town began, The Santa Claus House, where you can visit reindeer; see a  42-foot-tall, 900-pound Santa Claus statue; and well, get your Christmas on.


AugustaEditor’s Note: Recently, MoneyWise revealed its list of the 40 most frugal and friendly places to retire. In a bid to provide an idea of what housing inventory is available in these cities and towns, we’re taking a look at listings in each of the cities on the list.

Not everyone can spend $1 million or more on a second home, even if it’s with the idea that eventually you’ll retire there. So when MoneyWise’s list of 40 places to retire that are more budget-friendly came out, we were curious — what kind of homes could you find in these towns?

Last week, we looked at the 37th city on the list — Torrance, California. This week, we look at Augusta, Georgia, and found some great options for — get this — less than $300,000.

“Augusta is a gem of Southern living. It is an inexpensive city, with a median household income of about $38,000,” Moneywise said. “Augusta’s crime rate is low and the town is rich in Southern history, and offers a wide variety of shopping and nightlife options.”

“With its warm weather and two medical centers that focus exclusively on women’s healthcare, Augusta sets a high standard for retirement living on this list,” the article added.

We love getting vacation and second-home photos from readers, especially the unconventional. A loyal reader sent us his photos of Christmas lights from Oslo, Norway, which gets only 5 hours of sunlight on the clearest days in December.

In Oslo, the Caribbean, or wherever you are, we at hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season.