Face it — there's no perfect place in the world to live. Instead of burning cash and carbon in search of wild locations, you're better off finding a town with everything on its doorstep. The only question, is which one?
There are a lot of places that claim to be the extreme sports capital of the world but Chamonix is the undisputed king. It's the Mecca that sooner or later every adventurer must pay homage to carve their name, whether on its granite peaks or its 3,000m of vertical drop. The reason? One of them is a cable car that goes straight to 3,800m, allowing climbers and skiers to have an epic day and be back in the valley by dusk. Chamonix can get busy but such is the scope, the diehard can always find remote adventures away from the crowds.
Wanaka, New Zealand
Taking its name from the lake it sits by, the town of Wanaka is the favoured destination for adventurers looking for fun on New Zealand's South Island and a quieter version than its boisterous neighbour Queenstown. Whether you're casting a fishing rod or soaring under a paraglider, paddling a kayak or peddling a bike, there's an adventure sure to suit you nearby. Come winter, Wanaka is known for picking up a few extra cm of the light fluffy stuff, making it a natural base for exploring the Southern Alps. Summer ski-touring trip, anyone?
Cape Town, South Africa
Mountain: check. Surf: check: Reliable coastal wind: check. Spectacular coastal scenery... Situated beside the epic vistas of Table Mountain and the rolling swells of Table Bay, Cape Town has long enticed climbers, kite surfers, paddlers and bikers. There are not many cities where you can go climbing in the morning and then head out to catch some surf in the afternoon. The best part – cheap flights from most major European cities, and cheap accommodation. What's not to like?
Hood River, OR
Right in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge sits the town of Hood River, Oregon. Discovered by windsurfers in the 1980s, who came for the constantly-blowing breezes, adventurers have quickly discovered that Hood River's proximity to Mt Hood, Mt Adams, and wide selection of trails and rivers offer an outdoor paradise virtually unmatched in the USA. Bonus? There are four microbreweries right in town. Ski, hike, bike, beer. Win!
Rio de Janeiro
OK, bikinis and parties may be the first thing most people think of when they hear "Rio", but the city is not without it's adventure sport cred. It's the place where Felix Baumgartner made his famous BASE jump from the Christ the Redeemer statue. In addition to being the site for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics, it offers up plenty of surf, awesome hiking in the Parque Nacional de Tijuca, paragliding, whitewater and more. But the real draw? Incredible climbing, right outside the city on the famous Sugar Loaf and Urca districts. We just don't recommend climbing in a bikini or a pair of tight-fitting budgie smugglers.