Key Highlights

  • Middle-class families looking to small and rural towns for affordable vacation homes
  • Established vacation-home markets too costly
  • Home searches shifted to micropolitan areas

Middle-Class Families Escaping to Vacation Homes in Small Towns/Rural Areas

Just like affluent big-city dwellers, middle-class big-city dwellers across the US have wanted to ride out the pandemic in second and/or vacation homes. However, rather than searching for second/vacation homes in established, trendy areas such as Jackson Hole WY or Nantucket MA where prices have skyrocketed to the moon and back, middle-class families are looking at small towns and rural areas.

Searches for Socially Distanced Towns

In a recent podcast for the National Association of REALTORS®, Monica Neubauer, a Realtor and podcast host, defines this second/vacation home search shift to small towns and rural areas as an affordable way for middle-class families to escape big-city living, density and the pandemic near state and/or national parks.

Newbauer said that prices in established vacation home markets are simply “…beyond what normal people can afford.”

Most Popular Second/Vacation Home Locations

The Escape Home, a newsletter for second homeowners and wanna-be’s, contacted Redfin for help in determining the most popular search locations for vacation homes in micropolitan areas (county with at least one city with population between 10,000 and 50,000 often surrounded by even smaller cities and towns) and rural areas.

Redfin’s list of the most searched areas for vacation homes in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019

Towns/Areas               % Increases from 2019 to 2020

Marshall AL                                 +2817%

Dodge NB                                    +707%

Douglas MN                                 +637%

Otter Tail MN                               +583%

Klamath OR                                  +567%

Jasper IA                                      +400%

Cherokee OK                                +379%

Cheshire NH                                +372%

Becker MN                                   +368%

Essex VT                                      +362%

Harlan KY                                     +360%

Grafton NH                                  +348%

Sullivan NH                                  +339%

Belknap NH                                  +336%

Merrimack NH                              +311%

Franklin KS                                   +330%

Wayne IN                                     +322%

Beltrami MN                                 +316%

Merrimack NH                              +311%

Carroll NH                                    +311%

Buyers Flocking to New Hampshire or the “New Colorado”

With six of the top 20 locations on this above list being in New Hampshire, what’s the appeal of the “Live Free or Die” state to second/vacation buyers and potential buyers?  Along with a low crime rate, New Hampshire is one of the least taxed states in the country.  It also has quite favorable estate tax laws, a key welcome mat for wealthy retirees.

New Hampshire’s natural resources and recreational offerings are huge draws to big-city dwellers looking to replicate outdoor lifestyles most often associated with western states like Colorado.  However, there are differences between western states and states in Northern New England and one of those differences is price.

Price Matters

According to the New Hampshire Realtors Association, the median price of a home in Cheshire County NH, for example, was $272,000.    The median price of a home in Colorado Springs CO was $350,000, according to realtor.com.

Staying on East Coast Matters

Another difference is that many second/vacation homebuyers and potential buyers want to remain on the East Coast.  This is the reason Christopher Masiello, CEO of the Masiello Groupin Bedford NH refers to New Hampshire as the “New Colorado” on the East Coast.

 

Thanks to MarketWatch, Redfin and realtor.com.