5 things to know before buying a second home in Tahoe

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Amie Fisher

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If you would describe your ideal getaway as a place with natural beauty, outdoor recreation and stunning views, Lake Tahoe may be just what you’re looking for. With its pristine waters, pleasant summers and storybook winters, it’s no surprise that buying a second home in Tahoe is an aspiration for many. Whether you’re familiar with the region or just starting your search, here are 5 things to consider before buying a second home in Tahoe. 

1. There’s no town called ‘Lake Tahoe’

Tahoe refers to the entire region around the lake, which is split across California and Nevada, and includes about 75 miles of shoreline. If you’re looking at second homes in Tahoe, start by familiarizing yourself with the area, which is broadly divided into northern and southern regions. 
  • North Tahoe: Kings Beach (CA) and Incline Village (NV) on the north shore are known for their beaches, while Tahoe City, situated on the west shore alongside the Truckee River, is a favorite of kayakers and other water sport enthusiasts. A few miles north of the lake you’ll find the town of Truckee, where you can explore its historic “Old West” sites and vibrant cultural scene. North Tahoe also boasts the largest number of ski resorts in North America, so whether you like deep powder, backcountry adventures or Nordic trails, you’ll find it here.  
  • South Tahoe: South Lake Tahoe (CA) and Stateline (NV) are the largest towns around the lake and are popular tourist destinations. They cater to the nightlife crowd, with resorts and casinos (on the Nevada side), but there’s no shortage of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, from hitting the slopes at Tahoe’s largest ski resort to hitting the trail in search of one of the many local waterfalls

2. Tahoe is a year-round destination

People often associate Tahoe with snow, and for good reason. This alpine lake is nestled high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and those looking for a winter wonderland will not be disappointed. People flock to the region during ski season, but if your idea of December bliss involves sipping tea by the fire while gazing out at the snow-covered pines, that’s reason enough to stay during winter. Whatever your interests, if you plan to spend time in Tahoe during the colder months, be prepared for snowy roads.Spring might be called “winter lite” — it’s not uncommon to see snow in May — which is a boon for spring-breakers looking for one more ski holiday. If you don’t mind milder temperatures (think 40s and 50s, with an occasional 60-degree day), spring is a quiet, peaceful time at the lake.Summer is the most popular time to stay in Tahoe, with comfortable temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and water activities ranging from slow, quiet paddles to thrilling water-skiing adventures. Hiking trails abound, or you can relax on your deck, lounge at the beach, or window-shop at a small-town boutique. Fall has the benefit of summer weather — expect warm temps in September and into October — but fewer tourists. And the fall foliage is spectacular. Whatever your interests, buying a second home in Tahoe gives you the unique opportunity to enjoy the area’s beauty throughout the year.

3. Tahoe is great for kids

Many people choose second homes in Tahoe because it’s an ideal destination for all ages. The extended winter provides plenty of time for skiing, ice skating, sledding and tubing, and summer activities range from swimming, paddle boarding and whitewater rafting to kid-friendly hikes and even a gravity-propelled mountain roller coaster. And year-round, you can explore historic sites and museums, nearby state parks, abundant national forest land and much more. Whether you have kids, grandkids or are a kid at heart, you’ll look forward to your time in Tahoe. 

4. Yes, there are bears! 

Bears are part of the Tahoe environment, but there’s little reason to worry. With a few precautions, you and the wildlife can happily coexist. Bears can be persistent when it comes to food — one human’s trash is another bear’s treasure — so remove temptations. When you own a second home in Tahoe, you learn that garbage can become a bear buffet, so you’ll need to keep outdoor containers secured (often by using a bear-safe enclosure for your bins), and avoid keeping food in your car. And — this may seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing — don’t approach a bear, even if it seems “friendly” or is the cutest baby cub you’ve ever seen. Enjoy the natural scenery, but keep your distance from wild animals. 

5. It will (literally) float your boat

Boating enthusiasts have many options, and if you own your own vessel, you may be interested in buying a second home in Tahoe right on the lakefront — what could be better than walking out to your dock and going for a sail? For boat owners without water frontage, the lake is dotted with marinas providing slip and dry storage rentals. The nearly century-old Tahoe Yacht Club offers boating information and events for power boaters and sailors alike. If you are an occasional boater, you can rent a craft for a day or weekend from locations all around the lake.

Finding second homes in Lake Tahoe

If Tahoe sounds like your ideal second home destination, seize the opportunity to co-own a luxurious property in this gem of the West. View our listings to see second homes in Tahoe available now, and take the next step toward co-ownership of a second home you can enjoy for years to come.

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