6 Best places to buy a Winter Home in the US

Do you have any ideas about the best winter escape?

Would you trade your down jacket and boots for shorts and flip-flops, or you’d rather pack up your snowboard and skis and head for the slopes? Do you prefer to own a place by the beach or at a mountain’s base?

Following are 6 destinations in the U.S. that are great to buy a winter vacation home: 3 for those who prefer it sunny and 3 for those who enjoy the snow. In case you like the idea to rent your home out when you are not there, many of the destinations included have lots to offer year round.

Some prefer it HOT`S

Anna Maria Island, Florida

anna maria islands

South Florida is a barrier island that is only 7 miles long and 1,5 miles wide. In 2007 Ron Schmedley, who lives in Cincinnati, purchased a vacation house there. He said that it was the perfect place to escape from the hustle of a busy life and rest in the sand. According to Schmedley, the island was what’s Old Florida used to be and there was an ordinance that no structure could be built higher than the highest palm trees. You don’t have the enormous condominiums dotting the beach – just crystal clear water. A variety of restaurants offer seafood off the boats of the fishermen.

When Schmedley visits Anna Maria Island with his family, they spend most of the time at the beach, where, according to him, it was not surprising to see dolphin, manatee, sting rays and a wealth of other wildlife.

What’s available: According to the realtor at Norman Realty, Jed Wilkinson, on the island there are currently 126 single homes for sale, ranging from US$419,000 to just under US$5 million, and 68 condos that start from US$169,000 to over US$2 million. One home, built in 1986, with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, balcony, sundeck, pool, fruit trees and an off-site boat slip is priced, for example, at US$479,000.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort Beach ViewBeaufort (“Byew-fort”, not to be confused with the pronounced “Bow-fort” Beaufort, North Carolina) is a great destination for those who prefer a temperate climate in the winter. Located in South Carolina Lowcountry, the winter months are very mild and allow for outdoor recreation, such as inshore fishing, trips to the nearby beaches, biking, tennis and golf, according to the lifelong resident and partner in Lowcountry Real Estate, Edward Dukes. Chartered in 1711, Beaufort sits on an intercoastal waterway between Savannah and Charleston, each a short drive away. 15 miles from town, Hunting Island offers bike paths, an amazing beach and a canal for fishing, kayaking and paddle-boarding. Dukes recommends buying a vacation house in the town, which is rich with Lowcountry architecture, culture and history and is an easy walk to shopping, dinner and the Performing Arts Center of the University of South Carolina. Homes in town average US$140 per square foot. Prices range from US$200,000 to several millions. Properties are also available in nearby beach and golf communities. If you like boating, better buy in a neighborhood that has a community dock.

What’s available: A 2,600-sq.foot, custom-designed 2-story shingle-sided home with an inviting porch and 8 rooms (of which 3 bedrooms, a study and a formal dining room), built 9 years ago and an easy bike ride from town (not far for cycling from the Spanish Moss Trail) has a price tag of US$485,000.

Paradise Valley area (Phoenix, Arizona)


Lots of sunshine, mild temperatures and little rain make outdoor living in the winter months easy and fun in Phoenix area, encompassing Paradise Valley, Mesa and Scottsdale. Hiking, biking, tennis, swimming and golfing can be combined with visits to the Heard Museum of American Indian history and art, or the Phoenix Art Museum, or to a performance by the Arizona Opera, Ballet Arizona or Phoenix Symphony.

According to the realtor with Walt Danley Realty, Libby Cohen, this was a great time to buy as the inventory was vast and sellers were motivated. Cohen said the Interest rates were still low and their prices had not increased during the past 14 months so they had a buyers\rquote market. Buyers were particularly attracted to the \ldblquote lock and leave\rdblquote properties in the area where they were free of worries about keeping the property safe and lawn mowing when they’re away. Some of the newer communities also provide resort-type amenities like concierge services, room service, community rooms for entertaining and luxurious pool areas.

What’s available: Buy a 3,000-sq.foot detached stucco house with 4 bedrooms and 2 and a half baths in a Phoenix gated community for US$985,000. Built in 1997, the bathrooms and the kitchen have been recently updated.

Some prefer it COLD

South Lake Tahoe, Californiatahoe lake view

Lake Tahoe is enormous – 71 miles around! It boasts ski areas on the north end (in Nevada) and south end (in California). Tahoe’s South Shore is livelier of the two. The owner of Paradise Real Estate, Dan Spano, went there to ski three decades ago and never left. The south end is somewhat more affordable, according to Spano. The median house sales price on the north side is US$600,000 and on the south side, US$355,000. If you prefer a lakefront house on either side, you’ll have to pay from US$3 million up to US$25 million. Spano said that people were attracted to Lake Tahoe as it was one of the most wonderful places on earth. The winters were mild compared to resorts located in the eastern part of the U.S. At Heavenly Mountain Resort area residents can ski two states in one day and benefit from the best snow-making equipment in the area.

According to Spano, Tahoe real estate market was currently “very strong”. The residents of San Francisco Bay are, doing well financially, bought 2nd or even 3rd homes before prices rise.

What’s available: A 4-bedroom, 3-bath house built in 2006 borders on the National Forest Service land. Exciting view will never go away – just walk out the back door to fishing, hiking, bike trails and cross-country skiing. For downhill skiing, drive to Heavenly Mountain is only 2 miles. This extraordinary home is priced at US$749,000.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

jackson hole parkJackson Hole Mountain Resort took 1st place in the list of top ski resorts of Ski Magazine in 2014. It is a destination where the only choice is downhill skiing. You can cross-country ski into the forests and national parks or on groomed tracks. Snowmobile around Yellowstone National Park is another option. Take a sleigh ride through National Elk Refuge, or be in for heli-ski, ice-skate and snowshoe. Since 97% of the land of Jackson Hole is protected from development, properties are pretty scarce on the remaining 3%. The associate broker at Jackson Hole Sotheby International Realty, Kelli Ward, reported that dollar volume and transactions were extremely high. 2015 average sale prices were over US$700,000 for condos, which is up from US$520,000 in 2014.

Ward said that Wyoming was one of the U.S. friendliest states for people who relocate for the purposes of overall asset protection. That was just a bonus to those who wanted to be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the beauty of land – seen as soon as you fly into the airport. Jackson Hole is the only in the U.S. situated in a national park. Newcomers get a look at the huge views or Tetons, that are breathtaking, Ward says.

What’s available: In Teton Village, a 1,600-sq.foot 4-bath, 3-bedroom condo built 6 years ago has a US$1.5 million price tag. Situated near the south entrance to the Grand Teton National Park, it is slopeside and described as “eco-chic”.

Okemo Mountain Resort (Ludlow, Vermont)

Okemo Mountain ResortIn 2014 Okemo topped the list of “Best Family Resort in America” by OnTheSnow.com, so if you’re looking for a new destination for your family vacation, this might be the right place. According to the PR director at the resort, Bonnie MacPherson, Okemo got the No.1 rating because the family owning the operation understood that families were looking for activities they could enjoy together on or off the slopes. In 1982 Tim and Diane Muellers bought a home at Okemo Mountain Resort for themselves and their kids. The family still spend their winter vacation at Okemo and now their grandchildren come along, as well. The resort provides “options for every level, available from the top of each chair with 655 skiable acres, 121 trails and a weatherproof ski vacation, thanks to snowmaking equipment. Okemo is a 3-hour drive from Boston, and just under 5 hours from New York City.

What’s available: Not quite finished though, a brand new development called SouthFace Village is available at Okemo. It should be operational for 2016 ski season. Situated in a ski-in/ski-out and sun-all-day location, its inhabitants can go from their fireplace to their first run in 2-minutes tops. The homes come fully equipped to the flat screen TVs, according to marketing materials. Choose between 1- to 4-bedroom homes with prices starting in the mid US$400,000s.

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