This Is the Best Place to Buy a Vacation Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a migration from large cities on America’s coasts to places inland. One reason is the cost of real estate in places like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. Another is that more people can work from home. Many companies will allow for either hybrid work systems, under which people can split their time between home and office, or systems under which people do not have to come to the office at all.

Some people will not need to move. Many already have a second home where they can spend much or all of their time. Real estate rental company Vacasa has just issued its fourth “Top 25 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home.”

Among the key findings are that 70% of second-home buyers made their first purchase this year, and many of these homes will be used as rental properties. Over a third of the buyers want to spend under $399,000, which is slightly more than the median price for all homes nationwide. Guest demand for rentals has surged.

The city with the best return on investment for second homes is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and southeast of Knoxville. Second is St. Augustine, Florida, which is the oldest city in the country, founded in 1565. It is along the east coast of Florida, south of Jacksonville and north of Palm Coast.

Third on the list is Gulf Shore, Alabama, southwest of Mobile. It is followed by Dauphin Island, Alabama, which is very close by, and then Norris Lake, Tennessee, which is east of Nashville, along the Kentucky border.

These are the top 25 places to buy a vacation home and their median home prices:

  • Gatlinburg, Tenn.: $320,111
  • Augustine, Fla.: $365,576
  • Gulf Shores, Ala.: $402,905
  • Dauphin Island, Ala.: $382,699
  • Norris Lake, Tenn.: $343,907
  • Blue Ridge, Ga.: $290,934
  • Palm Springs, Calif.: $539,370
  • Deep Creek Lake, Md.: $439,367
  • Seaside, Ore.: $466,086
  • Ludlow, Vt.: $346,950
  • Big Bear, Calif.: $372,667
  • Rockaway Beach, Ore.: $330,831
  • Cle Elum, Wash.: $551,586
  • Big Sky, Mont.: $850,000
  • Twentynine Palms, Calif.: $263,897
  • Killington, Vt.: $317,336
  • Bear Lake, Utah: $383,734
  • Litchfield Beach, S.C.: $499,259
  • Pagosa Springs, Colo.: $361,320
  • Banner Elk, N.C.: $331,290
  • George Island, Fla.: $471,501
  • Ellijay, Ga.: $281,402
  • Florissant, Colo.: $367,000
  • Corolla, N.C.: $608,953
  • Holden Beach, N.C.: $580,847

Click here to see which are the cheapest cities in which to buy a home.