Most Popular Second Home Markets Across The U.S.
While the real estate boom of 2021 and 2022 may be calming down, the effects of the pandemic-fueled buying frenzy have proven long-lasting in many parts of the country—in particular for second home and vacation markets that emerged as buyers sought more inventory and more reasonable pricing.
Once eclipsed by hot spots like Aspen, Colorado; Scottsdale, Arizona, or New York City, these rising markets have now grown to top a list of last year’s most popular vacation home destinations in the United States, according to data analyzed by consortium representative Pacaso.
Read on to find out what parts of the country made the cut.
Indian River County, Florida
It’s no surprise to find a coastal Florida region on the list. The area has long been one of the largest second-home markets in the country and continues to attract vacation home buyers who stay for the warm weather and breathtaking beaches. What is perhaps a bit more of a surprise is that Indian River County, along Florida’s Treasure Coast, outperformed more well-known communities, such as West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. However, with the area’s wealth of scenic natural beauty, it’s no mystery. A varying topography that includes ocean shoreline, lagoons, rivers and lakes means an abundance of waterfront properties.
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Nevada County, California
Traditionally a quieter resort region, a recent surge of new residents has transformed Nevada County in the Sierra Mountain Range into one of the world’s premier luxury ski destinations. Truckee, the county’s most populous town, which sits some 10 miles north of Lake Tahoe, has seen a rapid increase in full-time and part-time residents. In an effort to expand supply, the city has approved a number of new developments, including a complete renovation plan for the Truckee Railyard. The project will expand the historic downtown area with an additional 75 acres of restaurants, community spaces and housing. Wintertime in this corner of the state is a sportsman paradise with ample opportunities for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Warm summers make for perfect conditions for golfing, mountain biking and hiking.
Kaua’i County, Hawaii
No other state is perhaps more often associated with its vacation market than Hawaii. The collection of tropical islands, separated from the rest of the country by about 2,500 miles of ocean, make for a one-of-a-kind American destination. While the whole state offers a bounty of vacation properties, the island of Kaua’i came out on top as the most popular of the Hawaiian islands for second-home buyers. Once almost entirely rural, Kaua’i, for better or worse, has now caught the attention of mainland and foreign buyers who find the island’s raw, pastoral beauty and lack of commercial clutter a huge draw. Low inventory and high demand have kept prices in the area at record highs, with the top end of new luxury homes reaching into the tens of millions.
Cape May County, New Jersey
Thanks to its 30 miles of Atlantic beaches and relative proximity to major metropolises, Cape May County has long been one of the Northeast’s most visited locations. Tourism in the county accounts for some $6.6 billion in revenue, making it Cape May’s single largest industry. As such, the area also has a thriving second home market. In the summer, populations throughout the various towns, cities and boroughs that make up Cape May County grow dramatically, in some cases as high as 10 times the permanent population. Lovers of Victorian and Cape Cod architecture will find themselves right at home with luxury inventory largely consisting of stately seaside houses. Views of the ocean are a relatively common amenity at the higher end of the market.
Santa Fe County, New Mexico
As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Santa Fe has attracted visitors from across the globe seeking a historical experience set against the backdrop of a scenic desert landscape. Those who fall in love with the New Mexico capital will find themselves in an increasingly competitive market. In the past five years, Santa Fe has seen its real estate market explode, with prices almost doubling and inventory plummeting. The city is often associated with its Pueblo Revival architecture, featuring adobe walls, flat roofs and stepped massing. Many new construction homes seek to maintain the traditional style while adding modern comforts and amenities. Apart from aesthetically pleasing homes and rich history, Santa Fe is also known as one of the world’s great art cities, with a concentration of galleries, installations and public art.
Charleston County, South Carolina
Charleston’s low-country allure has continued to place it at the top of many lists of best cities in the country. The South Carolina gem appeals to a wide variety of visitors—from history buffs to foodies to outdoor enthusiasts. Being carved out of rivers and sea means Charleston is rich in beach and riverfront properties, some of which are found on one of the city’s numerous islands. While Hilton Head Island, which lies just to the south, is often thought of as the premier South Carolina island destination, Charleston islands—such as Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island and Daniel Island—are starting to give it a run for its money. With this rise in popularity, Charleston’s islands are seeing a wave of new construction, including turnkey residential developments designed with second homeowners in mind.