A second home doesn't need to come with a seven-figure price tag.
Interest in vacation homes reached a high point during the pandemic. Along with the desire for seclusion, working at home became a reality for millions, in addition to those already able to do their jobs remotely. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, households with someone working from home reported higher levels of income, placing them in a better position to purchase a second home.
Although demand has recently dropped with rising interest rates, many Americans are still seeking an escape from cold winters or hot summers, a place to gather for family vacations, or simply a change of scenery. For some, owning a second home provides an opportunity for income by renting it out on their own or through a homesharing company like Airbnb.
Affordability encompasses more than just the initial purchase price of the home. Utilities, maintenance, property taxes, and potential income—for those who want to use their second home as an investment—are all considerations in the decision of whether a property is affordable. Meanwhile, “affordability” varies according to income, financial commitments, and stage in life.
While prices vary widely by city and location, these are the some of the most affordable states to own a second home:
One of the country’s favorite vacation destinations, Florida’s real estate ranges from multimillion-dollar single-family homes and townhouses to properties in more affordable communities. In Jacksonville, vacation home buyers can choose from oceanfront, lakeside, inland waterway, or golf course properties in a relatively affordable price range, with condos starting around $200,000 and homes under $400,000. Realtor.com estimates the median Jacksonville home price at $314,000. On the Gulf Coast in the Tampa Bay area, Realtor.com indicates a median home price of $365,000 and starting price for condos around $200,000 in Clearwater. In the Orlando area of Central Florida, home prices are at a median sales price of $340,000 in the city of Kissimmee. Three-bedroom condos in a lakefront development are listed at $250,000.
Vacation home buyers seeking a waterfront location can find reasonably priced properties along the Texas Gulf of Mexico shore from about $200,000 for a condo and approximately $350,000 for a home. In Port Arthur, on the border with Louisiana, a four-bedroom lakefront home is listed for $254,000. In Corpus Christi, popular with snowbirds for its mild winters, vacation home buyers can find many waterfront condos in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. About 80 miles north of Houston, Lake Livingston, one of the state’s largest lakes, features a selection of homes under $400,000, although many go well into the millions.
This state offers geographical diversity and natural beauty from mountains to coastline. The mountain areas around Asheville are popular vacation home destinations with pristine views and convenient access to both the city and the wilderness, according to John Witherspoon of Witherspoon Platt + Associates. Homes in this sought-after area start around $500,000 and prices vary widely. Property taxes are relatively low, especially outside of the city. Coastal property in Emerald Isle, a family destination with a 12-mile beach on the Crystal Coast, is an affordable “best kept secret,” Allison Wax Carter of Emerald Isle Realty told Travel + Leisure. Thoughtful development and a variety of activities make Emerald Isle a great value, with condos starting around $250,000 and large oceanfront homes going up to around $3 million.
Swimming, boating, and fishing in summer or cross-country skiing and snow sports in winter are the rewards of a vacation home on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city of Holland and surrounding areas are located on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, with camping, kayaking, and picnic facilities at Holland State Park and a downtown with restaurants, shops, and breweries. Homes in the area start at around $250,000 and lakefront properties are well into the millions. Inland, Houghton Lake in northern Michigan offers year-round attractions with public beaches in summer and ice fishing in winter. Homes in the nearby towns start at under $200,000, and there are several other lakes in the area with similar summer and winter activities.
Located at the eastern edge of Idaho, Idaho Falls is a year-round vacation destination. The River Walk, a paved pathway along the Snake River, features restaurants, snacks, and beautiful scenery. Outdoor activities include hiking, exploring Craters of the Moon National Monument, boating, fishing, and more. Homes start in the $300,000 range, and surrounding towns along the Snake River offer similar prices. In beautiful Coeur d’Alene, most waterfront homes are in the millions, but nearby it’s possible to find homes in the year-round community starting around $700,000. The area’s top-rated golf course as well as both winter and summer sports, make Coeur d’Alene a coveted vacation destination.
Both weather and natural beauty attract visitors to Arizona. The Grand Canyon, national parks and monuments, golf courses, warm winters, mountains, and deserts are also good reasons to own a vacation home there. In Tucson, restaurants, outdoor activities, museums, golf courses, and history offer plenty to do, and homes are available starting at around $250,000. Tempe is close to Phoenix and Scottsdale as well as communities like Gilbert, Mesa, and Glendale. Plus, it's conveniently located around six miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Homes, condos, and townhouses in the area are available in a wide range starting at around $350,000. Flagstaff, located in northern Arizona’s high country mountains, is snowy in winter and mild during the summer, making it a perfect escape even for Arizonans. Vacation condos and homes there start around $450,000.
The Pocono Mountains, known as a haven for honeymooners, is a year-round vacation destination with snow sports in winter, lakes in summer, and spectacular fall foliage in autumn. Several cities in the area, affordably priced and ideal for vacation homes, include Stroudsburg, Jim Thorpe, Honesdale, and Milford. Convenient to New York City and New Jersey residents, homes in these Poconos towns start at around $250,000 to $300,000, and up from there. Pennsylvania’s 2,500 lakes also provide many homesites ideal for summer recreation. In northwestern Pennsylvania, Warren will appeal to fans of outdoor activities. Bordering on the Allegheny National Forest and Allegheny River, Warren offers camping, hiking, fishing, and home sites well below $100,000. Homes start at $100,000-$150,000.
Whether a vacation home means the beach, mountains, desert, city, or seclusion, California has it all. Generally not considered an economical choice for real estate, California does offer vacation properties that could be considered affordable by some definitions. In the southern coastal town of Oceanside, for example, homes within a few miles of the beach are available starting at around $500,000. In the southern California mountain areas of Idyllwild and Big Bear Lake, homes start at around $450,000. Golfers and warm weather fans love the desert, where condos in resort communities can be found in the range of about $350,00.
If a beachfront property is the goal, vacation home buyers might want to consider the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where more than 25 miles of shoreline offer swimming, fishing, boating, and gorgeous views. They can choose a home or high-rise condo overlooking the Gulf. In Biloxi, for example, beachfront condos start around $350,000 and houses in the $250,000 range. In Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Long Beach, vacation home prices are similar. Inland, many lakes offer beauty and recreation as well as affordable homes.
Featuring properties on the Atlantic coast, White Mountains, and inland lakes, New Hampshire is convenient to vacation home buyers in the major east coast cities. Along the coast, as an example, Hampton Beach homes range from around $500,000 to several million. Around Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the most popular recreational spots in the state, homes start at about $400,000 in Laconia. Towns in the White Mountains vary in price, and in the town of Conway, for example, homes start at around $500,000, and acreage is available for building.
Long Island is known for the exclusive Hamptons on the island’s eastern end, generally not described by most buyers as affordable, but it’s possible to find a nearby vacation home in a more reasonable range. In the eastern Long Island towns of Greenport, Northport, and Stony Brook, for example, homes start around $550,000. In the upstate New York Adirondacks, a year-round vacation destination, homes start at about $350,000. Many lakes in the area include popular Lake George, where homes are in a similar price range, and acreage is available as well.
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