5. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 70.3%
> Vacancy rate: 20.0% (29th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 8.7% (150th lowest)
With a diverse arts and entertainment scene, and among the most per-capita restaurants in the country, the city of Portland, Maine, gets more than 4 million visitors each year. Most of these visitors come during the summer months. Each summer, the Portland metro area adds between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs. Located on the southern coast of Maine, the region is a popular destination for tourists and people with summer homes alike. According to the Portland Chamber of Commerce, Peaks Island, a popular destination for tourists, has a year-round population of 1,000, which roughly triples during the summer months.
4. Flagstaff, Ariz.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 75.3%
> Vacancy rate: 30.0% (7th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 20.1% (3rd highest)
Flagstaff is a popular summer destination for residents of Phoenix, which is roughly two hours away by car. Approximately 18% of the region’s homes are second homes and, according to the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, most of these are for summer use. Because of its high elevation — roughly 7,000 feet above sea level — the area is much cooler than the rest of Arizona, making it popular among visitors and state residents alike. According to the Chamber of Commerce, the average temperature in Flagstaff is approximately 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix. As of 2011, more than 20% of the working population was employed in arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services — the third-highest percentage in the country.
3. Glens Falls, N.Y.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 78.0%
> Vacancy rate: 23.2% (20th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 9.6% (144th highest)
The Glens Falls area had over 15,000 vacant properties at some point in 2011, of which 78% are seasonal. The area is home to Lake George, a popular travel and summer home destination. Property in the Glens Falls area is not as expensive as many other summer destinations. The median home value in 2011 was just $162,500, lower than the national median home value of $173,600. The Glens Falls area also serves as a gateway to the Adirondacks National Park, a very popular summer destination for people in the northeast.
2. Barnstable Town, Mass.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 89.4%
> Vacancy rate: 41.3% (3rd highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 11.9% (48th highest)
In Barnstable County, otherwise known as Cape Cod, 41.3% of homes and rental properties were vacant at some point in 2011, and nearly 90% of those were empty due to seasonal or recreational use. The Cape Cod National Seashore, the first designated National Seashore in the country, has 115 public beaches and gets well over four million visitors each year. In comparison, the Cape has roughly 215,000 permanent residents. In the summer months, the area adds tens of thousands of jobs. According to Michele Pecoraro, vice president of operations at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the majority of visitors come from the greater Massachusetts area, and many Boston residents have second homes there.
1. Ocean City, N.J.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 92.3%
> Vacancy rate: 58.1% (the highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 18.6% (5th highest)
More than 58% of all homes in Ocean City were listed as vacant by the U.S. Census Bureau, by far the highest percentage in the nation. But Ocean City is hardly a ghost town: more than 92% of these homes are used for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use. As the summer rolls around, people flock to their homes in the area, which are among the most expensive in the nation, with a median value, as of 2011, of $323,100. That year, 6.8% of homes in the area were worth over $1 million, one of the highest percentages in the nation. Much of the area’s economy revolves around accommodating and entertaining tourists and vacationers. Job in in these functions accounted for over 18% of all employment in 2011.