Whether you’re looking for a permanent residence with proximity to water or an idyllic summer getaway, a lake town can be the ideal place to buy a home.
“There has been a steady uptick in the number of people seeking out homes in lake towns over the past few years,” Glenn S. Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty, told Realtor.com. “We see a trend across all our markets of buyers thinking, ‘Life is short, buy the lake home!’ Many of those seek out the more rural lake towns where homes may be relatively more affordable than at larger lakes or at lakes near cities.”
Realtor.com analyzed more than 11,000 towns with or on lakes to come up with its list of the most affordable lake towns. To make the list, towns needed to have an affordable median home list price, at least 25 listings, and a variety of local restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments. Here are the 10 small towns that made the cut, ranked by affordability.
10. Ketchikan, Alaska
- Median home list price: $420,000
Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan is a waterfront town that’s home to the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. In addition to its gorgeous landscapes and natural beauty, Ketchikan also offers a vibrant arts and cultural scene.
9. Watertown, South Dakota
- Median home list price: $315,000
Located between Pelican Lake and Lake Kampeska, Watertown is an ideal place for water sports enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for canoeing and water skiing. There are also numerous places for fishing, picnicking and camping, plus paved trails for biking and hiking around the lake.
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8. Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania
- Median home list price: $307,000
Located in the Poconos Mountains, Lake Ariel is a true small town with a population of about 14,500. Residents can enjoy leisurely days boating on the lake, or go fishing in two of the nearby lakes, Lake Henry and Lake Wallenpaupack.
Pictured: Delaware Water Gap in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania.
7. Spirit Lake, Iowa
- Median home list price: $301,000
There’s no shortage of things to do in Spirit Lake, which sits on the western shore of East Okoboji Lake in the Iowa Great Lakes region. Spirit Lake and the other local lakes provide ample opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating and hiking, plus there are plenty of places to shop, eat and learn — Spirit Lake is home to a number of museums and historical sites, including the Dickinson County Heritage Center, the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and the Okoboji Classic Cars Museum.
6. Lake Placid, New York
- Median home list price: $279,000
During the summer months, Lake Placid residents can take advantage of fly-fishing in the nearby rivers, climbs on the surrounding cliffs and water sports in the lake itself. As a two-time home of the Winter Olympics, there’s also plenty to do in the winter, especially for those who love to ski or enjoy other winter sports.
5. Winsted, Connecticut
- Median home list price: $260,000
Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, Winsted is home to Highland Lake. The lake features two public beaches, and is a popular place to fish, water ski and swim. Winsted also has a thriving downtown area, which has a plethora of antique stores, restaurants and boutiques.
Pictured: Cream Hill Lake in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
4. Cheboygan, Michigan
- Median home list price: $248,000
Cheboygan is located on Lake Huron, but it’s close to many other lakes as well — Burt Lake, Long Lake, Mullett Lake, Twin Lakes and Black Lake. It’s an ideal setting for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of large cities.
3. Sulphur, Oklahoma
- Median home list price: $224,000
Sulphur lives up to its name — this small town is known for its mineral springs. It’s also home to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, which offers nearly 10,000 acres for camping, hiking, horseback riding and biking. For those who prefer indoor activities, there’s also the Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa.
2. Sandusky, Ohio
- Median home list price: $158,000
Sandusky is located on the shores of Lake Eerie and is a major recreation and entertainment destination for Midwestern vacationers. It’s an especially good lake town choice for amusement park enthusiasts, as it’s home to both the Cedar Point Amusement Park and the Merry-Go-Round Museum.
1. Ashland, Wisconsin
- Median home list price: $146,000
Located on the south side of Lake Superior, Ashland has no shortage of natural beauty, which residents can enjoy by hiking, fishing and bird watching. It’s also the Historic Mural Capital of Wisconsin, with roughly two dozen murals decorating its downtown district.
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All data is sourced from Realtor.com’s ranking of The 10 Most Affordable Lake Towns in America, 2022 Edition and is accurate as of July 18, 2022.