10 Best Places To Invest in Winter Vacation Homes

Mountain Lodge in Winter stock photo
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It’s a winter wonderland out there, and with it comes a whole market of winter vacation homes just ready to be scooped up across the country — particularly in mountainous states and the Northeast where the season’s bounty is on full display. It has become such a trend, in fact, that leading vacation management rental platform Vacasa recently released their “Top 10 Best Places to Buy A Winter Vacation Home 2022-2023” list for interested buyers.

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While the grim financial outlook facing most Americans, with inflation remaining at 7% and the Fed continuing to increase interest rates to curb borrowing, might seem to present hurdles in terms of buying a second home, experts say it’s actually a good time for anyone looking to invest in real estate. Benzinga reported that times of recession are ideal to make the investment, if you can financially do so, since the market is highly competitive on the buyer side with interest dwindling.

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Daned Kirkham, Vacasa’s senior director of real estate, pointed out that the list has seven new entries this year. “Over half of the destinations on this year’s list are newcomers to our report, which is in part due to the cap rate compression we’ve seen in many top markets as home prices trended up in 2021 and early 2022.” He added, “However, market dynamics have shifted in recent months for both primary and second home real estate. Interest rate hikes since last spring are causing the once red-hot housing market to cool off a bit giving buyers renewed negotiating power.” 

Vacasa’s top 10 picks, which were determined by analyzing 12 months worth of home sales and rental data for spots throughout the U.S. where Vacasa — and its users and subsidiaries — manage 50 or more units, follow.

Wallowa Lake, Oregon (median home sale price: $282,237)

One of the great things about an area like Wallowa Lake (the No. 1 spot on Vacasa’s list) is that when winter is over and the snow melts, the town is still a great summer destination where swimmers, beachgoers and boaters take advantage of the surrounding lake that provides its namesake. Though in winter, snow-capped mountains, dog sled races and plenty of ski slopes make it an ideal spot, too.

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Poconos, Pennsylvania (median home sale price: $298,067)

This is ski town country for the Northeast, which makes the fact that median home prices are still under $300,000 in this destination super shocking. If you love to ski, or are looking to rent to individuals and families with a passion for the sport, buying in this region is key since there are several mountain peaks to take advantage of, all with well-maintained trails.

Bear Lake, Utah (median home sale price: $377,061)

Vacasa says this area is known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies,” offering a freshwater lake with beautiful crystal-clear waters. When it freezes in winter, it’s the spot for ice fishing and other activities. Located between Utah and Idaho, it’s also just a short drive from Salt Lake City as an added attraction.

South Fork, Colorado (median home sale price: $387,173)

Snow enthusiasts flock to this Colorado region every winter because it boasts “the most snow” in the state, according to Vacasa, as the altitude here tops 8,000 feet! It’s located near the base of the San Juan Mountain range and has two dual rivers running through town — the Rio Grande and South Fork.

Banner Elk, North Carolina (median home sale price: $457,608)

This town is one to watch. First featured on Vacasa’s winter homes list of 2021, the site says it has since jumped five spots. It’s located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and right in the middle of two famous ski resorts — including one with the state’s only challenging Black Diamond course. The other resort boasts a mountaintop sky bar that draws in plenty of revelers.

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Ludlow, Vermont (median home sale price: $459,888)

The town of Ludlow is another locality seeing skyrocketing real estate demand. It’s been on not one, but two Vacasa lists recently. It’s home to the popular Okemo Mountain Resort, which affords plenty of winter fun activities and top-notch amenities.

Warren, Vermont (median home sale price: $369,829)

The state of Vermont places again in Vacasa’s list, taking the No. 7 spot via the quaint town of Warren. In addition to one of the largest and most impressive ski resorts in all of New England, Sugarbush Resort, the town itself also offers coffeeshops, craft breweries and more for travelers and residents to take in during the winter.

Girdwood, Alaska (median home sale price: $508,051)

Of course you can’t have a winter destination list without including Alaska. The town of Girdwood (an hour from the Anchorage airport) places eighth on Vacasa’s list, offering up the beautiful Aleyska Mountain and its slopes, the Winner Creek Trails and its waterfalls and Moose Meadows — a venue that offers a spacious fireside lodge.

Teton Village, Wyoming (median home sale price: $2.13 million)

The priciest region on the list could provide the biggest reward, per Vacasa. Vacasa estimated that annual rental revenue could net a homeowner about $100,000 here. It’s known for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where travelers can ride trams, enjoy spa time and take in the breadth of winter. In summer it’s just as pleasant, boasting attractions like gondola rides and mountainside dining.

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Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho (median home sale price: $935,395)

Mountains, rivers and forests surround this picturesque town in Idaho. For the adventurous, the Schweitzer Mountain Resort has some of the best downhill ski slopes. But the state parks are just as fun — and a bit more low-key — with cross-country skiing options.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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