If owning a beach house isn’t quite your thing, how about a lake house? Many travelers’ idea of the ultimate holiday is being surrounded by a silver lake. And, there’s data to back this up. In 2022, lake houses made Airbnb’s top 10 travel categories for US guests.
A quick look at the lake house market in the United States reveals that there’s a very good chance that you’ll find a property that you can afford. Sure, if you look at the price tag of some waterfront properties you would expect to own the lake too. However, the median listing price can vary quite significantly.
Apart from the property price, you’ll also need to keep in mind that your estimated yearly expenses might be more than owning a vacation rental in an urban area. You’ll have to plan for more wear and tear which comes with living so close to the water and your insurance and utility expenses will likely also be higher. That said, combine the high demand with the median rental revenue and it’s generally a good vacation rental investment.
One of the major attractions of Big Bear Lake is its ski resorts. That said, it has much more to offer like historic sites and hiking trails too.
It’s also the most expensive region on this list with the median listing price estimated at more than $640,000, according to Travel + Leisure. However, it boasts good demand throughout the year, meaning that occupancy rate will be one less worry.
Things to do in and around Big Bear Lake:
If you prefer a small town, add the Brainerd Lakes area to your shortlist. There are hundreds of lakes in this area, making it easier to buy a lake house. That said, you’ll need to have deeper pockets and Evolve’s estimated median listing price is over $500,000.
What you’ll get is miles of hiking trails, beach access and yearly live shows that attract hundreds of artists and travelers. For an even better return on investment, try to find a property in Pequot Lakes, Crosslake, or Nisswa.
Nisswa and Pequot Lakes, for example, have been identified by MidWestLiving as one of six under-the-radar locations for building a lake house in the Midwest. Both these locations offer great restaurants.
Things to do in and around the Brainerd Lakes area:
If affordability is one of your key criteria, be sure to check out Branson in Missouri. In 2020, Forbes identified this Ozark town as one of the most affordable lake towns to buy a waterfront property. While Forbes estimated the median lake home price at about $445,000 in 2020, according to CNBC, Travel + Leisure, and Evolve, the median home value could be much lower and measure between $230,000 and $247,000.
As for rental potential, you can expect to generate between $20,000 and $23,000 per year according to data shared by Evolve.
Aside from the affordability, it also boasts close proximity to popular destinations like Table Rock Lake, a man-made lake that offers hundreds of miles of shoreline.
Things to do in and around Branson:
Home to Lake Winnipesaukee, the biggest lake in New Hampshire, Gilford has been identified by Evolve as one of the best places to buy a lake house in 2023. That said, it’s not one of the most affordable areas. The median listing price is estimated at over $500,000 which is higher than other lake towns. One of the reasons for this is that most properties are situated right on the water.
As for rental revenue potential, the median rental revenue for Gilford is estimated at just under $30,000.
Things to do in and around Gilford:
In Granbury, historic charm meets water sports. Travelers are treated to hours of fun on the Brazos River and Lake Granbury.
Vacation rental investors can look forward to good occupancy rates with Evolve reporting that properties are booked for more than half of the year. This can add up to an annual income of just over $28,000. That said, properties with direct access to the lake will cost you in the region of $400,000.
Things to do in and around Granbury:
Lake Anna has been identified by Vacasa as the best place to buy a beach house in 2023. What’s more, it also boasted the top spot on Vacasa’s 2022 list of the top 25 places to buy a vacation home.
This was based on its average capitalization rate with it yielding about 12%. To work out the average cap rate, Vacasa took into account average homeowner association fees, property tax, insurance, and property management fees.
According to Vacasa’s research, a vacation property costs about $385,000 on average with the potential of generating about $70,000 in annual gross rental revenue.
Whether you’re looking for a vacation home or lake house, Lake Anna gets an A.
Things to do in and around Lake Anna:
The first thing that you would associate with Arizona probably isn’t a lake house. However, Lake Havasu City is a popular destination all year round. In addition to attracting locals, it’s also popular among travelers from neighboring states.
While you’ll have ample sunny weather, the properties in the area are harder to find. Also, get ready to pay around half a million for a property.
Things to do in and around Lake Havasu City:
Vacation rental hosts looking to attract families should look no further than the Lake of the Ozarks. It offers many recreational activities and entertainment venues, but not at the expense of its natural beauty. There are rolling hills, scenic lakes, and even beaches. For example, if you can find a property on Osage Beach, even better.
As you would expect, to be able to access all this, you’ll have to pay more too. The median listing price according to Evolve is just under $350,000. If this is out of your budget, you can stick to Branson, which is about 120 miles away and slightly more affordable.
Things to do in and around Lake of the Ozarks:
Norris Lake is the ultimate water sports destination. It boasts hundreds of miles of shoreline, rivers, and creeks. Located in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, it also offers a number of hiking trails.
All in all, it’s a great place to invest in Tennessee. According to Lake Homes Realty, it’s the second-biggest marketplace for lake properties in the state. While you’ll most likely won’t have a hard time finding an available property (over 200 lake homes are normally available for sale at any given time), it won’t fall within everyone’s budget. The average listing price is about $425,000.
Things to do in and around Norris Lake:
From beautiful fall foliage to water sports like whitewater rafting, Pocono Lake has something to offer nature lovers as well as adventure seekers. It’s close to a number of ski resorts, helping to drive more demand.
As for aspiring vacation rental hosts, Pocono Lake can offer reasonably priced properties. Evolve estimates the median listing price at about $280,000, well in line with other popular regions like Saranac Lake.
One potential drawback, though, is the regulations. HOA regulations can make it difficult to run a vacation rental business here.
Things to do in and around Pocono Lake:
If you’ve always wanted a cabin, you can check out Saranac Lake. Here, lakefront cabins are the top-performing property type in the area according to Evolve.
The median listing price is about $265,000. That said, for a rental right on the lake, you’ll pay more than this, but this prime location isn’t a must to be successful.
As for revenue potential, it’s right up there with Gilford. Travelers flock here to experience the Adirondack Mountains and outdoor activities like boating and mountain biking trails.
Things to do in and around Saranac Lake:
You’ll find that lake houses in Lake Anna are pretty hard to come by. If you have your heart set on Virginia, you’ll probably find that you’ll have an easier time finding a suitable property in Smith Mountain Lake.
That said, you’ll still need to have deeper pockets. The houses here are more towards the upper end of the price range with Travel + Leisure placing them between half a million and $1 million. However, your yearly income will also be higher and can be over $33,000. What’s more, you can also look forward to lower property taxes.
Things to do in and around Smith Mountain Lake:
Whether you prefer a condo over a four-bedroom, family-friendly abode or vice versa, Traverse City will fit your needs. It’s close to Lake Michigan and popular among foodies. Aside from being home to award-winning restaurants, it has also placed itself on the map for its local brews, wine, and vodka and has the most nightlife establishments and restaurants per capita (along with Branson), according to WalletHub.
While its restaurant scene is hot, its water temperature is some of the lowest. The water is generally the warmest in August when the average water temperature is around 70℉.
Things to do in and around Traverse City:
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