25 best places for a second home in 2023 based on your needs, lifestyle and budget

Published Date: April 25, 2023

 A family enjoys dinner on their patio in one of the best places for a second home.
Purchasing a single home can be a huge undertaking, but buying a second home ups the ante twofold with expenses and responsibilities. To make sure you get all you hope for out of your second home, it’s important to know what you’re looking for — and where you want to be looking for it.  To that end, we’ve compiled 25 of the best places for a second home or vacation home in the U.S. — ordered by their median home prices — to help you find a location that suits your needs, lifestyle and budget. 

Top 25 best places for a second home

CityMedian home prices
Whitewater, Wisconsin$258,000
Savannah, Georgia$266,000
Hudson Valley, New York$329,000
Bay Harbor, Michigan$332,000
Gulf Shores, Alabama$430,000
Ludlow, Vermont$442,000
Nashville, Tennessee$446,000
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
Gatlinburg, Tennessee$583,000
Coeur d'Alene$603,000
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
Bend, Oregon$777,000
Scottsdale, Arizona$862,000
The Keys, Florida$1.02 MILLION
Maui, Hawaii$1.05 MILLION
Vail, Colorado$1.59 MILLION
Park City, Utah$1.72 MILLION
A map displays the names and locations of the best places for a second home.

1. Whitewater, Wisconsin

Water flows over the rocks of Whitewater, Wisconsin, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Whitewater 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, Georgia

A ferry sits on the water with Savannah, Georgia’s skyline in the background, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Savannah 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 York

Tree covered hills and fresh water of Hudson Valley, New York embody why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
The 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, Michigan

Resort buildings and boat docks line the channel of Bay Harbor, Michigan, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Bay 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, Alabama

Houses line the beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Travelers 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, Vermont

Autumn leaves fill the trees of Ludlow, Vermont, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Ludlow 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, Tennessee

Neon signs hang over the sidewalk of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Wondering 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, Alabama

Brightly colored houses populate the streets of Dauphin Island, Alabama, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Looking 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, Florida

Local shops populate the tightly packed streets of St. Augustine, Florida, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
St. 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, Arizona

Pontoon boats fill the docks of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Hoping 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 Carolina

Palm trees and old fashioned buildings line the downtown streets of Charleston, South Carolina, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Charleston 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 visitThis 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, Montana

Snow covered buildings sit at the base of a white capped mountain in Big Sky, Montana, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
If 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, Tennessee

Water flows down the river in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
The 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, Idaho

Dozens of boats fill the docks of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Coeur 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, California

Houses sit at the beachfront with a nearby mountain in the background at Big Bear, California, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
The 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, Michigan

A lighthouse sits on the sparsely populated beach of New Buffalo, Michigan, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
New 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, California

Palm trees and upscale businesses fill the desert oasis of Palm Springs, California, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Palm 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 Carolina

A lighthouse and oceanfront buildings fill Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
Hilton 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

Luxury second homes on Hilton Head Island

    19. Grand Lake, Colorado

    An empty lake surrounded by mountains sits in Grand Lake, Colorado, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Grand 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, Oregon

    The downtown area of Bend, Oregon sits surrounded by nature, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Craft 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, Arizona

    Cacti and rocky mountains cover the wilderness surrounding Scottsdale, Arizona, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Scottsdale 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, Florida

    Lights from a boat illuminate the waters off an island of The Keys, Florida, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    While 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, Hawaii

    Palm trees line the coast of Maui, Hawaii at sunset, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Hawai’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, Colorado

    People walk through the streets of Vail, Colorado with mountains in the background, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Vail 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, Utah

    Houses cover the snowy mountainside of Park City, Utah, embodying why it’s one of the best places for a second home.
    Park 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 home

    An image displays the three most important considerations for house hunters looking at the best places for a second home.
    The 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 time

    No 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 preferences

    Some 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.


    Consider 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.
    Having these questions top of mind can help reassure you that you’re making the right decision.Our turnkey homes offer luxury features indoors and out, so you can enjoy your stay in your favorite destination no matter the season. For more inspiration concerning the best places for a second home, check out our other top markets.

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