Father and daughter sitting by their pool of their vacation home.

12 Best Places To Buy A Vacation Home In 2024

January 23, 2024 6-minute read

Author: Kevin Graham

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The world can be a stressful place. We all want somewhere where we can check out from our responsibilities and just enjoy ourselves. There’s no empirical formula for the best place to buy a vacation home. Everyone wants something a little different, so we looked at 12 destinations to create a list suitable for a few different types of vacationer.

Best Places For Beach Vacation Homes

Does the sun, sand and surf sound like the ideal amenities? Here are four vacation destinations beach combers might enjoy.

Navarre Beach, Florida

aerial view of Navarre Beach, Florida

Population: 38,994

Median house price: $752,500

Located just east of Pensacola at the far northwestern portion of the Florida Panhandle, Navarre features 12 miles of white sand beaches. It has all the warmth of paradise as well. Temperatures average at least 75° from April through October. Families can enjoy the nearby Gulf Breeze Zoo or cast a line off the state’s largest fishing pier.

It also happens to be a buyer’s market. Based on the latest data from our friends at Rocket HomesSM, home prices in the area are down 2.3% since last October.1

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Twin Rocks at Rockaway Beach

Population: 1,456

Median house price: $550,000

Rockaway Beach has a more moderate climate than the beaches in Florida. While the average high never gets above 69°, even in August, it’s average low in December doesn’t get below 36°. Its location on the Northwest Pacific coastline makes it an ideal town for whale watching and the estuary ecosystem where rivers meet the ocean leads to quite a mix of wildlife.

Hatteras Island, North Carolina

aerial view of Buxton, North Carolina shoreline and Hatteras Island at sunrise

Population: 552

Median house price: $749,500

Located in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Hatteras Island’s climate is a little bit milder than other southern states, being located further north. Folks here can get their exercise by climbing one of the many lighthouses in the area, and there’s great fishing and waterfowl hunting seasons. Because of its significance to the Coast Guard, history buffs and shipwreck enthusiasts will enjoy the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, Maine with sailboat off coast

Population: 1,402

Median house price: $1,800,000

Kennebunkport has three main area beaches: Gooch’s, Middle and Mother’s Beach. For the most comfort, vacationers will want to visit between June and September. Afterall, Maine does experience all four seasons. However, the short season doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. There’s the Shoreline Trolley Service and many parks as well as an annual Breakfast for Pooches at Gooch’s.

Best Places For Mountain Vacation Homes

Those who prefer vacation activities like skiing or hiking, a mountain vacation home could be more their style.

Asheville, North Carolina

aerial shot of Asheville, North Carolina skyline

Population: 93,776

Median house price: $484,990

Situated along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a beautiful destination for hiking where onlookers can find waterfalls and mountain wildflowers. There are also bike paths and off roading available for the adventurous who like a challenge. In the evenings, visitors can check out the area’s rich music and arts scene.

Taos, New Mexico

Traditional dwellings in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Population: 34,580

Median house price: $605,000

Taos is in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains. As such, this is a great destination for both rock climbing, hiking, biking and skiing or snowboarding depending on the time of year. After a day of adventure, vacationers can relax in the local hot springs.

Big Bear, California

Snow-covered town around frozen Big Bear Lake

Population: 5,031

Median house price: $447,497

It may be in Southern California, but its location in the San Bernardino mountain range means Big Bear gets cooler weather than one might expect. This allows for plenty of fresh powder on the winter ski slopes. Meanwhile, there are paddle sports, fishing and wake boarding that can be done in the summer for those who don’t want to lounge in the sun.

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Estes Park, Colorado

Bear Lake sunrise

Population: 5,862

Median house price: $700,000

Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, so there’s plenty of hiking to do along with biking on the trails. Skiing and rock climbing are also available, but for those who are into horror, one of the most famous locales in Estes is the Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration behind “The Shining.”

Best Places For ‘Peace And Quiet’ Vacation Homes

There are those who like beach destinations and mountain locales, but what about the traveler that just wants a little peace and quiet?

The Berkshires Region, Massachusetts

Autumn view from overlook on Mohawk Trail

Population: 127,859

Median house price: $384,950

The Berkshires can be a world unto itself. There are mountains, but also green forests and high blue skies. Vacationers can do as much or as little as they want and still feel refreshed. That's because the area offers peaceful hikes supplying fresh air and local restaurants serving fresh food from several neighboring farms.

Depending on the season, jackets may be required as the weather patterns are typical of the Northeast. Those looking to stay inside, will find a thriving performing arts scene within the city and plenty of antiquing.

Sierra Vista, Arizona

Aerial view of Sierra Vista, Arizona in summer

Population: 45,439

Median house price: $280,000

Sierra Vista in English means “Mountain View,” and there’s quite a bit of picturesque scenery here. Its location makes it an ideal stargazing spot and there are more than a dozen observatories in the area, including one on the University of Arizona South campus. These offer many viewing opportunities to the public. Birders can also find something to enjoy here as the Christmas Bird Count typically records among the country’s highest numbers of overland species.

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Hood River, Oregon

Upper Hood River Valley at night with Mount Hood in distance

Population: 24,048

Median house price: $675,000

Hood River is an hour from Portland, under 4 hours from Seattle, making it a good place to take day trips to other major metros while vacationing. Locals are proud of the wine scene in the area, which features 19 wine establishments. Agri-tourism has also taken root in the area, as it’s the nation’s largest exporter of pears. Vacationers who love to dive into culture will delight in the many local galleries and outdoor art walks. The marine climate means it’s not too hot nor too cold. The average high in December and January is 41°, but it’s 82° in August and July – making it good weather to explore no matter one’s interests.

Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania

Dingmans Falls in the Pocono Mountains

Population: 3,084

Median house price: $303,500

As Pennsylvania experiences cold seasons too, it may be best to go to Mount Pocono in June through September for warm weather. But there are things to do in the Pocono region year-round. There are beautiful train tours on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. For an outdoor adventure, there is everything from wildlife watching and horseback riding to hiking and skydiving.

Vacation Home Buying FAQ

These locales may motivate travelers in search of a place to buy their home away from home. It’s understandable to have questions when considering buying a vacation home.

Is a second home a good investment option?

A second home can be a great investment opportunity for those looking to invest in real estate rather than the stock market. Not only is there the potential to make money off the investment property by making it a rental part time, but the homeowner could also receive tax breaks for property tax and mortgage interest, depending on how they plan to use the second home.

What are things to consider when buying a vacation home?

Owning a vacation home can be a great investment, but there are some things to keep in mind before making a purchase. Here are a few factors to consider before buying a vacation home

  • Large financial investment: Real estate in popular vacation destinations usually sits on the higher end of the price range. Buyers should discuss their budget with a real estate agent and what is realistic for them to put down for a home. Owning two homes can also mean doubling the cost of almost everything – including utilities, home insurance, mortgages, homeowners association fees and property taxes.
  • Property maintenance: Whether buyers plan for the vacation property to be a family home or rental, they’ll need to properly maintain the home when it’s not in use. If a third party is taking care of the maintenance, the cost should be included in the budget when looking at potential homes.
  • Real estate value: Real estate values vary depending on location and the state of the market. Discuss with your real estate agent whether it’s a good time to invest in the desired location.
  • Reliability: A vacation home offers the reliability one could ever want when planning vacation trips. Instead of dealing with various travel expenses, transportation is the only worry to getting to one’s own piece of paradise.

Methodology

We chose three categories for vacation homes: beach, mountain and “peace and quiet.” We then referred to data from the 2021 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census to identify cities with a high percentage of seasonal property use, focusing on areas that fit into our four categories. Our cities were selected with a preference for representing a variety of states across the U.S. Median home prices are based on the median sold price in the October 2023 Rocket Homes market report.

1 Rocket Homes® is a registered trademark licensed to Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC. The Rocket HomesSM Logo is a service mark licensed to Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC. Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act. For Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC license numbers, visit  RocketHomes.com/license-numbers. California DRE #01804478. Hawaii License # RB-23371. TREC: Information about brokerage servicesConsumer protection notice.

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Kevin

Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham is a Senior Blog Writer for Rocket Companies. He specializes in economics, mortgage qualification and personal finance topics. As someone with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia that requires the use of a wheelchair, he also takes on articles around modifying your home for physical challenges and smart home tech. Kevin has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Prior to joining Rocket Mortgage, he freelanced for various newspapers in the Metro Detroit area.