Cool downtown condos in midsize cities

Live the urban life for less than $200,000

Who hasn't wanted to live the big city dream? You know what I mean. A super-cool condo with a world of culture and entertainment right outside the front door.

Unfortunately, that dream costs a fortune if want to buy a home within walking distance of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Wrigley Field in Chicago or the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

So, let us suggest a more affordable alternative: a super-cool condo in the heart of a smaller city with more culture and entertainment than you might expect right outside your front door.

How affordable? We've found one-bedroom homes in the heart of eight midsize cities that cost no more than $200,000.

And just look at what's within walking distance: Theaters and museums. High-end shopping and chic places to eat and drink. Basketball arenas and baseball stadiums (minor league stadiums, but hey.) Even casinos, in one instance.

You won't find slot machines and blackjack tables in midtown Manhattan.

Let's start with a condo that's in Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska.

Omaha, Nebraska

Address: 1208 Howard St., Apt. 1
Price: $199,900
What you get: One bedroom, two baths, 1,632 square feet
Price per square foot: $122

This two-story loft with an open floor plan and soaring ceilings just oozes personality. The living room and kitchen on the main level are connected to the second floor by a spiral staircase. Upstairs, you'll find the master bath; space that can be used as an office, study or sitting area; and balcony with sleeping area. The historic nature of the building is brought into the condo with an exposed brick wall that's part of both stories. High-end upgrades? There are plenty, including a steam shower and stainless-steel appliances. Although this is the biggest and one of the priciest condos in our slide show, it also has the lowest cost per square foot. It's just a short walk to the Holland Arts Center, Orpheum Theater (Nebraska's version) and lots of downtown restaurants. The Century Link Convention Center and Arena, where the highly regarded Creighton University basketball team plays, and TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series, are less than a mile from your door. Another bonus: There's always the chance of a Warren Buffett sighting.

See more photos of this Nebraska condominium.

Contact: Sandi Downing of Sandi Downing Real Estate at 402-214-5621

Louisville, Kentucky

Address: 711 W. Main St., Apt. S
Price: $200,000
What you get: One bedroom, one full bath, one half bath, 1,471 square feet
Cost per square foot: $136

The Harbison is a former five-story warehouse in the West Main Street Historic District that now offers 20 condos. On the first floor of this unit is a living room full of built-in bookshelves, window seats, track lighting and hardwood floors. The kitchen has tile counters and a dining area the current owner furnished with a retro diner booth and old pay phone. The broad wooden staircase leads to the second-floor bedroom with fireplace, full bath and glass-enclosed porch with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the Ohio River. Stroll east on Main Street, and in nine blocks you'll pass the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts; the Actors Theatre of Louisville; the KFC Yum! Center, frenzied home to the University of Louisville's highly ranked basketball team; and Louisville Slugger Field, where the city's minor league baseball teams plays. Along the way, you'll be tempted to eat and drink at Stevie Ray's Blues Bar, Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar and Against the Grain Brewery.

See more photos of this Kentucky condominium.

Contact: Joanne Owen of Kentucky Select Properties at 502-271-5155

West Palm Beach, Florida

Address: 410 Evernia St., Apt. 520
Price: $189,000
What you get: One bedroom, one full bath, one half bath, 825 square feet
Cost per square foot: $229

Although the Whitney is only seven years old, defective Chinese drywall required this fifth-floor unit to be totally rebuilt. And whoever did the work did a wonderful job. The eye-catching new kitchen has stainless-steel appliances, granite counter tops and a tray ceiling. All of the floors, except in the bedroom, have been redone in white tile. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open onto a small, west-facing balcony. There's a vessel sink in the half bath and marble tile in the full bath. The rooftop sundeck with pool and hot tub is just an elevator ride away. Or take a short walk across the Royal Park Bridge to Palm Beach's Worth Avenue, one of the world's poshest shopping districts. Armani. Chanel. Cartier. Gucci. Louis Vuitton. They're all here. After dark, you'll find live music at the elegant Blind Monk Wine Bar & Tapas on the building's first floor. Or stroll back over the bridge to dine on pan-roasted yellow snapper in the courtyard of Renato's Italian restaurant.

See more photos of this Florida condominium.

Contact: Sam Fisc of Real Estate Solutions at 561-835-3665

Spokane, Washington

Address: 152 S. Jefferson St., Unit F
Price: $199,900
What you get: One bedroom, one bath, 793 square feet
Cost per square foot: $252

There's a reason this loft on the west side of downtown ties the Howard Street home in Omaha for the priciest property in our slide show and stands alone with the highest cost per square foot. You'll find lots of character and luxury features in this south-facing unit on the second floor of a two-story, eight-unit building. The high ceilings and open floor plan create a light, airy feel that's enhanced by lots of exposed brick and wood beams. The kitchen has stainless-steel appliances and an eat-in island. In the master suite, you'll find a walk-in closet, and the tiled bathroom has a jetted tub. Like the outdoors? French doors open onto a small balcony. This condo comes with a gas fireplace, parking spot in the attached garage, separate storage space and reduced property taxes over the next three years. Everything downtown Spokane has to offer, from the Barrister Winery and Rocket Bakery to the Bing Crosby and Martin Woldson theaters, is just blocks away.

See more photos of this Washington condominium.

Contact: Patricia O'Callaghan of Century 21 Beutler & Associates at 509-323-2100

Dayton, Ohio

Address: 136 Canal Boat Court
Price: $143,900
What you get: One bedroom, one-and-a-half baths, 1,168 square feet
Cost per square foot: $123

This three-story townhouse on the east side of downtown is not only the least expensive home in our slide show, it's built to energy-efficiency standards that should cut utility bills by 35%. A property tax abatement through 2020 is another money-saving feature. The first floor has a private one-car garage and laundry room equipped with a new front-loading washer and dryer. The second floor boasts an open-concept living room, dining room and galley kitchen with bamboo floors, stainless-steel appliances, track lighting and outdoor balcony. The bedroom is on the third level with the main bath, which is functional but bland. It's just around the corner from Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team, and the Canal Street Tavern, the place in town for live music — everything from bluegrass to hard-core punk.

See more photos of this Ohio condominium.

Contact: Mark Rosko of HER Realtors at 937-604-6608

Boise, Idaho

Address: 412 S. 13th St., Apt. 318
Price: $180,000
What you get: One bedroom, one bath, 1,059 square feet
Cost per square foot: $170

This third-floor corner unit in City Side Lofts was built in 2007 and offers the lowest cost per square foot in our slide show. Yet it provides all of the high-end features you'd expect from urban living. In the kitchen, you'll find granite counter tops and backsplash, a big eat-in island, custom lighting and stainless-steel appliances. From there, the open floor plan flows right into the living and dining area, where floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides allow natural light to flood in. The bathroom features a double sink, tiled shower and separate tub. A balcony stretching along one side of the unit is long and inviting. There's also a common rooftop area and one spot in the underground secured parking garage. Step outside and you're just a few blocks west of all the downtown bars and theaters. One of the closest watering holes is the PreFunk Beer Bar, where you can refill your growler from one of more than 20 rotating taps of craft brews.

See more photos of this Idaho condominium.

Contact: Barb Dop of Keller Williams Realty at 208-672-9000

Madison, Wisconsin

Address: 614 W. Doty St., Apt. 405
Price: $179,900
What you get: One bedroom, one bath, 733 square feet
Cost per square foot; $245

This loft condo is on the top floor of a four-story property build in 2005 and just a short walk from the University of Wisconsin and the state capitol in the heart of downtown. It's the smallest home in our slide show and the bright green-and-blue paint scheme is a little quirky. But so is the surrounding neighborhood, a "mix of professors, students, empty-nesters, young professionals and hippies," according to one description. Both seem to embody the city's unique charm and personality. Besides, paint's cheap and this unit has a lot to offer. There are cherry hardwood floors, skylights, tiled walk-in shower and floor to ceiling closets. The kitchen comes with a breakfast bar, granite counter tops and stainless-steel appliances. Another plus? Knockout views of Monona Bay. Although the unit comes with a parking space, you can walk to just about anything you need, including a florist and an Indian restaurant. The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co., Madison's quintessential watering hole, is just six blocks down Doty.

See more photos of this Wisconsin condominium.

Contact: Debby Dines of Dines Inc. at 608-268-0899

Reno, Nevada

Address: 200 W. 2nd St., Apt. 201
Price: $169,000
What you get: One bedroom, one bath, 770 square feet
Cost per square foot: $219

Downtown living has come to Reno in a unique way. Developers are snatching up old casino hotels and turning them into condos. In this case, it's the former Comstock hotel and casino that's been reborn as The Residences at Riverwalk. The open-concept living room and kitchen feature granite counter tops, stainless-steel appliances, eat-in peninsula and tray ceiling, which adds an extra touch of character to this unit. There's a small balcony off both the living room and bedroom, and the unit comes with its own washer and dryer. Amenities include a health club, underground parking and sundeck with pool and hot tub. Step outside and the Truckee River is a block to the south, while the city's historic gaming district along Virginia Avenue is a few blocks east. Harrah's. Eldorado. Circus Circus. They're your neighbors, along with lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. May we suggest The Little Nugget Diner? It will never be mistaken for a fine dining establishment, but the Nugget's open 24 hours and serves up Reno's most famous burger, the Awful Awful.

See more photos of this Nevada condominium.

Contact: Charly Baron of Chase International at 775-842-7197

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