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Buying a vacation property rather than a long-term rental can offer some unique advantages. Because vacation properties are typically only rented for a weekend or at most a couple of weeks, you can often charge higher rates per night. Plus, you will have a vacation home you can use for a weekend getaway of your own when it isn’t occupied.

See: How Much It Costs To Buy a Home in These Popular Winter Vacation Destinations
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However, homes in popular vacation towns on the coasts can be incredibly expensive. For instance, one home in Carmel-by-the-Sea is listed for nearly $30 million. That home may be an exception, but Midwestern towns tend to be much more affordable, making it easier to find a vacation pad that fits your budget.

You won’t find any $30 million homes in any of these Midwestern vacation destinations. Let’s take a look at some of the best homes to consider for your next investment.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

  • Median home price: $328,500
  • Price change: +9.7%

Located in the heart of Door County, Sturgeon Bay has a rich history and a historic downtown. Of course, Sturgeon Bay gives you access to the myriad of things to do in the area, which is its real advantage as a potential vacation home. You can visit Peninsula State Park, a huge state park that draws one million annual visitors on its own. Or, you can visit Choice Orchards to pick some fresh cherries. For anyone who loves the outdoors, you can’t go wrong with Door County.

Homes in Sturgeon Bay are also affordable. The median listing price is just above $328K, which is up 9.7% year-over-year. Homes there have been slightly below their asking price, so you might be able to scoop up a deal.

More: Why Buying Property in These 5 Southern Vacation Destinations Could Be a Great Investment

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

  • Median home price: $225,000
  • Price change: +3.7%

Located an hour northeast of Madison, Wisconsin Dells is another destination for vacationers in America’s Dairyland. The Dells is best for those who like being in the water, as this area is known for a number of water parks and water-based attractions. It features water parks such as Noah’s Ark, Kalahari, and Mt. Olympus. Plus, you can take tours with the Original Wisconsin Ducks, which are amphibious vehicles that can move on both land and water.

Each year, the Dells draws about four million visitors. Homes in the area are affordable, however, with a median listing price of $225K; that is up 3.7% year-over-year. In addition, homes in the area most recently sold 3.88% below asking.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

  • Median home price: $300,000
  • Price change: +15.4%

Lake of the Ozarks is another place that is perfect for anyone who wants to experience the outdoors for a few days. The lake itself is actually a reservoir created by impounding the Osage River, but it is nevertheless an excellent outdoor destination, with plenty of fresh water and outdoor activities. It’s a perfect place for hiking and boating, and there are even public beaches for those lazy summer days.

The area topped 10 million visitors in 2020, though it usually averages about 5.4 million. While the boom was likely temporary as people looked for outdoor activities at the height of the pandemic, 5.4 million is still a huge number. The median home price is $300K, up 15.4% year-over-year. Plus, Realtor.com notes that Lake Ozark is a buyer’s market, meaning there are more homes for sale than the demand.

Traverse City, Michigan

  • Median home price: $399,000
  • Price change: +10%

Traverse City is a city in its own right and not strictly speaking a vacation town. Still, it is a popular vacation destination due to being a wine producer, in addition to its beaches, vineyards and skiing in the winter. You can also take a boat out on the bay or hike the Boardman Lake Trail. If you prefer to stay indoors, there are boutiques and art galleries to keep you entertained for the day. All in all, the city attracts about 3.5 million tourists and $3.5 billion in spending every year.

Homes in Traverse City can be a bit pricey; the median listing price is $399K. Home prices are up about 10% year-over-year and sell for around their asking price.

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

  • Median home price: $550,000
  • Price change: +57.5%

Gatlinburg and its surrounding area are always popular vacation destinations for thousands of families every year. Within Gatlinburg, there are countless things to do, including whitewater rafting, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, an escape room, a mountain coaster and even a penguin playhouse.

Speaking of the Smokies, Gatlinburg is just minutes away from the national park. Gatlinburg is a part of Sevier County where approximately 12 million people visit every year. In other words, more people visit the area than live there, so a vacation home is ideal.

Homes in Gatlinburg have a median home price is just under $550,000. However, prices are up 57.5% in the past year and homes continue to sell above asking prices, which could signal a great investment opportunity.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking, credit cards, and real estate. His work has been featured on The Ladders, The Good Men Project, and Small Biz Daily. He also co-runs Modest Money and is a dog sitter and walker.


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