Top 25 best places for a second home
|City||Median home prices|
|Hudson Valley, New York||$329,000|
|Bay Harbor, Michigan||$332,000|
|Gulf Shores, Alabama||$430,000|
|Dauphin Island, Alabama||$458,000|
|St. Augustine, Florida||$466,000|
|Lake Havasu City, Arizona||$490,000|
|Charleston, South Carolina||$510,000|
|Big Sky, Montana||$546,000|
|Big Bear, California||$639,000|
|New Buffalo, Michigan||$644,000|
|Palm Springs, California||$717,000|
|Hilton Head Island, South Carolina||$730,000|
|Grand Lake, Colorado||$734,000|
|The Keys, Florida||$1.02 MILLION|
|Maui, Hawaii||$1.05 MILLION|
|Vail, Colorado||$1.59 MILLION|
|Park City, Utah||$1.72 MILLION|
1. Whitewater, WisconsinWhitewater is close to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, giving nature-lovers all they could hope for in a retreat. It has biking trails, multiple lakes and dark night skies that are perfect for stargazing. The city is also only a one-hour drive from Milwaukee, providing convenient access to a major airport and big city entertainment.
- Median home price: $258,000
2. Savannah, GeorgiaSavannah makes the list as one of the best vacation home locations thanks to its riverfront properties and classic Southern charm. This is one of the more affordable towns to buy property in this list, allowing you to get plenty of bang for your buck. If cobblestone streets and Spanish moss-covered trees are missing from your primary home, moving near the Savannah Historic District may offer all you need.
- Median home price: $266,000
3. Hudson Valley, New YorkThe Hudson Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the country, making it one of the best vacation home locations for wine lovers. Being within five hours of the city only furthers the appeal of this country oasis. The area is one of the original leaders of the farm-to-table restaurant movement, giving the local diners here deliciously sustainable meals.
- Median home price: $329,000
4. Bay Harbor, MichiganBay Harbor is nestled away in northern Michigan, stretching across five miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline. It’s one of the most popular vacation destinations for Midwestern residents due to its small town feel, resort-level accommodations and vacation rental property availability. Visitors and permanent residents alike are drawn to its spas, fishing charters and breathtaking scenery.
- Median home price: $332,000
5. Gulf Shores, AlabamaTravelers to Gulf Shores will discover a city that’s true to its name. Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, this Alabama town offers year-round opportunities all along its white sand beaches. Eat as much fresh seafood as your stomach can handle or take a trip on a dolphin-spotting cruise. The nearby Gulf State Park provides more than 6,000 acres for outdoor adventures.
- Median home price: $430,000
6. Ludlow, VermontLudlow is a prized destination for winter lovers. The city has a mountain resort with ski routes for all skill levels, along with the amenities one would hope for on a luxury vacation. In the summer, guests can visit Ludlow’s waterfalls and cool off in one of the many swimming holes.
- Median home price: $442,000
7. Nashville, TennesseeWondering where to buy a vacation home that has enough attractions to keep you entertained for years to come? Well, Nashville is one of the most popular places to visit for a reason. It has a vibrant music scene and is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s also part of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail and has great options for any foodies in your life.
- Median home price: $446,000
8. Dauphin Island, AlabamaLooking for island energy that’s a bit closer to home? Dauphin Island can provide you with beautiful beaches to relax on as you watch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. Vacation homes on the island are elevated on stilts to avoid rogue waves, adding to the character of living here. This small island also has a 165-acre bird sanctuary that serves as a common resting place for birds on their way back from South America.
- Median home price: $458,000
9. St. Augustine, FloridaSt. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers and is among the oldest inhabited cities in the country. Those historic roots play an important role in its present-day culture. Visitors can still see the Spanish influence all over the buildings, with forts and cathedrals being preserved to this day. Its prime location near the ocean makes it a perfect escape for relaxation, and it’s just a short drive from Jacksonville.
- Median home price: $466,000
10. Lake Havasu City, ArizonaHoping to buy a vacation home in an area that’s close to the water but a bit drier than the tropics? Located in the Arizona desert, Lake Havasu lets its residents enjoy boat life without all the humidity and storms.The city is also home to the historic London Bridge, and was brought over stone by stone in 1968. Now it’s the second largest tourist attraction in the state behind the Grand Canyon.
- Median home price: $490,000
11. Charleston, South CarolinaCharleston is a hot commodity thanks in part to its regular appearances on lists of the best places to live. The city even ranked in the top five on our own list of the most relaxing places to visit. This is one of the best places for a second home thanks to its subtropical climate and ocean access. It’s also a popular place to buy vacation rental properties. And if the hospitality isn’t enough to remind you that you’re in the South, the quaint architecture surely will.
- Median home price: $510,000
12. Big Sky, MontanaIf being surrounded by nature is a must for you when buying a second home, then look no further than Big Sky. This mountain town will have you on backcountry hikes through wildflower meadows, and rafting through whitewater rapids. In the winter, you have your pick between skiing down mountains or across Nordic trails.
- Median home price: $546,000
13. Gatlinburg, TennesseeThe popularity of the Great Smoky Mountains has done wonders for the success of Gatlinburg. This town has seen its property value explode in recent years thanks to its close proximity to Dollywood, SkyLift Park and the Appalachian Trail. Chic cabins offer rustic luxury to visitors, with beautiful mountain views from the comfort of your own hot tub.
- Median home price: $583,000
14. Coeur d’Alene, IdahoCoeur d’Alene provides its residents with four seasons of fun activities, from ski slopes to water parks — all within close proximity to vacation homes. The area has over 55 glacial lakes that can have you venturing somewhere new for years to come. There’s no shortage of entertainment in this small city, with a casino and more live music venues than you’d be able to keep track of.
- Median home price: $603,000
15. Big Bear, CaliforniaThe best vacation home locations are versatile and can have you visiting at any time of year. Big Bear is one of those places. Well known for its four-season appeal, Big Bear may have you debating making a permanent move. Aside from its mountainous landscapes and lake shoreline, this great vacation destination also puts you within driving distance of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego.
- Median home price: $639,000
16. New Buffalo, MichiganNew Buffalo sits just north of the Indiana border, making it a common destination for Chicago residents looking for a weekend getaway. The town has a 24-hour public boat launch for you to access as you please. The area is also known for a number of breweries, wineries and even a meadery.
- Median home price: $644,000
17. Palm Springs, CaliforniaPalm Springs is a bucket list destination for people who’ve dreamt of rubbing shoulders with the old school Hollywood elite, like Frank Sinatra. Countless celebrities have called the city home over the years, leaving an unmistakable mark on its personality.Fans of Mid-Century Modern architecture will be hard pressed to find a better city to serve as their time capsule. Hikes through the desert bring spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife.
- Median home price: $717,000
18. Hilton Head Island, South CarolinaHilton Head Island is located between Charleston and Savannah, providing a less congested escape for people looking to unwind in a charming vacation home. The island is packed with wildlife, providing sights of sea turtles, manatees and dolphins. Visitors can shop at more than 60 specialty stores or hone their golf game at one of 32 courses.
- Median home price: $730,000
19. Grand Lake, ColoradoGrand Lake is bordered by Rocky Mountain National Park on three sides and has a population of less than 500 people. If your idea of the best place to buy a vacation home includes privacy, this may be the spot. You can boat and fish in peace, or take your dog for a hike on 15 miles of trails.
- Median home price: $734,000
20. Bend, OregonCraft beer enthusiasts may want to take a special interest in Bend when looking for their home away from home. The area has the highest concentration of microbreweries in the state and one of the largest beer trails in the West. However, there’s more to do in this vacation destination than just drink suds — the area also has over 50 miles of urban trails and plenty of summer festivals to keep you entertained.
- Median home price: $777,000
21. Scottsdale, ArizonaScottsdale is quickly becoming the mecca for snowbirds looking to skip winter weather and dodge the tropical storms of the Southeast. Here you’ll find year-round sunshine and zero humidity. You can watch 15 Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training or spend your days on a golf course or in a spa. You’ll also have easy access to everything nearby Phoenix has to offer.
- Median home price: $862,000
22. The Keys, FloridaWhile Key West is probably the best known of this island chain, the others have too much to offer to be left out. With miles upon miles of sandy coastlines, you’re bound to find your perfect spot on the beach before hitting the southernmost point in the United States. These small islands are brimming with stories about shipwrecks and celebrities. It’s hard to think of a place more fitting of the word “paradise.”
- Median home price: $1.02 million
23. Maui, HawaiiHawai’i and paradise are often spoken in the same breath, and there’s no better representation of that than Maui. The island is world-renowned for its beaches and sunsets, providing great views of humpback whales just off the shore. Buying a second home here means regularly dining on farm-to-table food and hiking on picturesque trails.
- Median home price: $1.05 million
24. Vail, ColoradoVail is a mountain town where residents live in luxury as they hit the slopes. It’s one of the best places for a second home due to the quality of life it provides. With a pedestrian street system and free shuttle, visitors can easily make their way from their vacation home to the many restaurants, spas and shops that fill the villages.
- Median home price: $1.59 million
25. Park City, UtahPark City gives hopeful buyers a healthy mix between the great outdoors and homebound elegance. Luxury homes, second homes and vacation rentals in this destination often have gourmet kitchens, so you can recover with a proper meal after a full day of skiing.There are more reasons to live in Park City than just for the winters. Buying a vacation home here means being close to the Sundance Film Festival, Grand Teton National Park and Olympic Park.
- Median home price: $1.72 million
Factors to consider when buying a second homeThe real estate cliche about location, location, location is just as true for second homes as it is for primary residences. It’s all about where you’ll spend your time and build your memories. We’ve identified a few factors to consider when searching through the best places for your second home.
Travel timeNo matter where you live, you're likely to use your second home more if you don’t have a spirit-breaking slog to get there. If you want the flexibility of driving to your destination, identify communities you love within a two-to-three-hour drive time from your primary home. It's the reason Palm Springs and Las Vegas have long appealed to Angelenos, and why Napa, Sonoma and Lake Tahoe are retreats of choice for many San Franciscans.If you don't mind hopping on a plane and plan to use your home less often but for longer stretches, you could buy a second home in another part of the country. This will make planning ahead important, so factor both time and cost of travel into your buying equation.
Seasonal preferencesSome vacation home locations cater to seasonal visitors — think ski towns or sunny snowbird destinations. These bustling communities may transform into quiet, locals-only spots in the off-season.If you are looking for a second home for seasonal use, like skiing in the winter or lake access for summertime fun, it's wise to research weather and real estate market conditions to get the full picture of when to come to your home. You’ll want to know if roads near your summer home get plowed in the winter, or if your ski chalet is plagued with mosquitoes come summer. If you plan to use your home year-round, the community will be a big factor in your buying decision. Are there recreational clubs, events, shops and services that meet your needs?The more you know about where you’re going to buy, the more confident you'll feel that you've picked the best location for your second home.
LifestyleConsider the kind of life you want to live in your second home.Does a remote home surrounded by nature appeal to you, or do you want to be within a stone's throw from urban amenities? Are you semi-retired and looking for new adventures, or are you in a young family seeking fun, family-friendly activities?Are you looking for a private vacation home to enjoy with your family and friends, or are you interested in a vacation rental property that can provide some annual gross rental revenue?No matter which you prefer, most of us expect modern conveniences and amenities in our vacation homes. As you shop for a second home, ask:
- What recreational activities are nearby? Explore area hiking and biking trails, and check out boating and fishing spots. Public parks will likely offer skateboard areas and basketball courts. If it's a ski hill you're after, see what it offers in both winter and summer. Are golf or tennis must-haves? Look into public and membership-only options. If you'd rather workout indoors, take a tour of local gyms or yoga studios.
- How close do you want to be to food markets and restaurants? Whether you love to cook or just eat well, proximity to good food can be a draw for many buyers. Explore your potential neighborhood and ask locals where they love to eat or grab a coffee.
- What services are essential to you? You may feel better knowing there's a hospital close by. Or, you may need to be near a train or airport. Some want access to a public library. Identify the services you can’t forego while spending time at your second home.
- Is the internet service suitable for both work and leisure? In addition to streaming Netflix, you may want the option of working remotely. That will require a reliable connection, powerful enough for video conferencing.