The 5 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home in 2021

The popularity of vacation home sales skyrocketed in 2020, and the trend has continued into 2021. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, explains, “Eight percent of all transactions were classified as vacation home sales in the latest data. Usually, vacation home sales would comprise four or five percent, so a rise to eight percent is a meaningful increase.” The reason for the increased popularity is tied closely to the rise in remote working. If you’re looking for a vacation home, these are the 5 best places to buy a vacation home this year!

Dukes County, Massachusetts

Dukes County consists of the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Chappaquiddick Island, the Elizabeth Islands, the island of Nomans Land and other islets. It has become a popular vacation home destination for city dwellers in Boston and Philadelphia. Almost 60% of its housing stock consists of seasonal vacant homes, according to NAR. The picturesque coastal communities are lined with old, charming homes, ample beach and ocean access, and quaint boutiques and restaurants. The slower pace these island communities offer make it a very popular choice—consistently at the top of the nation’s list of popular second home destinations.

Martha's Vineyard is a best place to buy a vacation home

The Dukes County market remains incredibly strong. NAR data states “In 2020, home sales rose 13.8%, the median sales price rose 63.6%, and properties sold 38 days faster than in 2019. It is the second most expensive vacation home county with a median sales price of $1.4 million in 2020.”

Swain County, North Carolina

Nestled in the heart of the Great Smokey Mountains, Swain County is popular for those enjoying the hiking and scenery of the Smokey Mountains, while also having quick access to Dolly Parton’s Dollywood. According to NAR, almost 23% of the housing stock in Swain County is seasonal vacant homes.

One of the most affordable vacation home destinations, “Home prices are in the mid-price range with the median sales price at $245,000.” Vacation homes near Dollywood and the Smokey Mountains are also popular short-term rental investment options for owners looking to cash flow their vacation home.

Oscoda County, Michigan

For those looking to beat the scorching heat of the southern states, purchasing a vacation home in the northern parts of Michigan might be a great choice. Oscoda County is located on the northern side of the Au Sable River that runs into Lake Huron. NAR’s report notes that this small community is popular because “It boasts of the Huron-Manistee National Forests, Oscoda Beach Park, Clark Marsh, and Turtle Marsh.”

With beautiful and peaceful surroundings, Oscoda County flew under the radar for many years in terms of popularity; however, according to NAR, now almost 55% of its housing stock is seasonal vacant homes. It’s also one of the cheapest places to purchase a vacation home, as the median sales price is only $107,500.

Garrett County, Maryland

If a vacation home nestled in the mountains is what you’re searching for, Garrett County, Maryland would make a great choice. In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and carved by the Potomac and Youghiogheny Rivers, Garrett County is popular with nature lovers. Hiking, camping, kayaking, and exploring routinely draw tourists and vacationers to Garrett County.

This small mountain community has become increasingly popular with vacation home buyers. In fact, just under 25% of its entire housing stock is made up of vacation homes. According to NAR, “In 2020, home sales rose 35.8%…[and] the median sales price rose 35.4%…with the the median sales price at $325,000.”

Alcona County, Michigan

Water lovers, take note of Alcona County, Michigan, which boasts six miles of Lake Huron coastline. Located in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the county is enveloped by the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Vacationers enjoy access to fishing and hiking while avoiding other heavily visited areas in the state.

2020 saw a monumental increase in the Alcona County real estate market. In fact, “home sales rose 80.4%, the median sales price rose 51.5%, and properties sold 10 days faster than in 2019.” Even with the increase, the county remains incredibly affordable for vacation homes with the median sales price only $150,000.

(RELATED: Looking to Move? Consider These 6 Picturesque National Park Towns)

While Florida tends to be the frontrunner for summer vacation home destinations, trends and data show other parts of the country growing in popularity. If the dog days of summer have you wanting a reprieve from scorching temps and jonesing to relax in less tourist-driven areas of the country, these are the best places to buy a vacation home this year. Most are relatively affordable too, so what are you waiting for? Start your home search on and soon enough you could be enjoying the laid-back life you’ve been dreaming of!

Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

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