Top 10 best places to buy a winter vacation home 2022-2023

Published November 2022

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When winter finally rolls around, bringing with it crisp air and a chilly disposition, we find that many guests looking to book a winter vacation home are searching for similar amenities, such as ski-in/ski-out access, large hot tubs to accommodate groups, and, of course, a cozy fireplace where they can kick off their boots and warm their toes after a day on the slopes.

The same can be said for buyers looking to purchase a winter getaway, and, while we don’t disagree that these are some of the most popular amenities that guests seek, we have a plot twist: The destinations that boast peak cap rates (or rate of return on investment) this year may not be in the places you’d expect. While these hidden gems have mountain and lake views a-plenty, as well as all the necessary apres-ski amenities, they are not necessarily those that immediately come to mind for many.

As you dream of powder-filled days and a winter home of your own—bear in mind that as mortgage and interest rates rise and the seller’s market begins to cool (slightly), buyers may be more conservative with what they’re willing to pay. In turn, slowing home sales for both primary and secondary residences may unlock more opportunities for those who have held off on purchasing their dream winter home. However, a word of caution here: Well-capitalized buyers and investors are not likely to be as concerned with the changing economic conditions and may be even more motivated to purchase high-quality homes with the knowledge that buyers hold more power than they did earlier this year.

Top 10 best places to buy a winter vacation home in 2022-2023, ranked

Market

Cap rate

Median home sale price

1

Wallowa Lake, OR

9.9%

$282,237

2

Poconos, PA

8.7%

$298,067

3

Bear Lake, UT

7.9%

$377,061

4

South Fork, CO

5.5%

$387,173

5

Banner Elk, NC

4.9%

$457,608

6

Ludlow, VT

4.2%

$459,888

7

Warren, VT

4.2%

$369,829

8

Girdwood, AK

3.6%

$508,051

9

Teton Village, WY

3%

$2,131,796

10

Lake Pend Oreille, ID

2.7%

$935,395

1. Wallowa Lake, Oregon

With crystal-clear water and snow-capped mountains creating a breathtaking backdrop, it is no surprise that Wallowa Lake, Oregon, is the number one place to buy a vacation home this winter. The area is a peaceful winter wonderland offering plenty of snow-filled activities like hitting the nearby slopes or catching the Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race, but come summertime, boats and swimmers will be splashing about. Though the city of Joseph has stricter permitting limits, the surrounding area is a year-round travel destination that appeals to buyers, with a strong cap rate of 9.9%.

Cap rate

9.9%

Median sale price

$282,237

Annual gross rental revenue

$43,852

2. Poconos, Pennsylvania

The ski towns within the Poconos region are moving up one spot from our 2021 Best Places to Buy a Winter Vacation Home report to claim the #2 ranking. Considering the long list of local draws, including modest mountains, deep snow, fast lifts, and impeccably groomed trails, it’s no wonder Poconos ranks on our list for the third year in a row. The median home price is still under $300,000, making it an attractive buy for first-timers in the market for a winter investment property.

Cap rate

8.7%

Median sale price

$298,067

Annual gross rental revenue

$45,696

3. Bear Lake, Utah

Bordering Utah and Idaho, this freshwater lake is surrounded by two mountain ranges and is known to many as “The Caribbean of the Rockies” for its brilliant turquoise waters. When winter rolls in the lake freezes over and becomes one of the most popular ice-fishing spots in Utah, where fishermen flock for cutthroat trout. But that’s not all—the area also offers ideal terrain for snowmobiling across miles and miles of fresh powder-covered trails. Family fun at Bear Lake is conveniently a short two-hour drive from Salt Lake City and could bring in an annual gross vacation rental revenue close to $50,000.

Cap rate

7.9%

Median sale price

$377,061

Annual gross rental revenue

$48,516

4. South Fork, Colorado

South Fork is a hot spot for outdoor adventure located in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains, with the Rio Grande and South Fork rivers running through town. A short 25-minute drive will take you to Wolf Creek Ski Area which is known to have the “most snow in Colorado” with 255 miles of winter recreation trails. The altitude of South Fork (at 8,200 feet) isn’t the only thing about the town that’s higher-than-average: a short-term rental here could also deliver a healthy cap rate of 5.5%.

Cap rate

5.5%

Median sale price

$387,173

Annual gross rental revenue

$34,991

5. Banner Elk, North Carolina

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina’s High Country, Banner Elk is nicely situated between two major ski resorts—Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort—keeping skiers and snowboarders on their toes with a wide variety of terrain. One has North Carolina’s only double Black Diamond run, and the other offers the state’s only mountaintop sky bar. Banner Elk landed on our 2021 Best Places to Buy a Winter Vacation Home, and has bumped up five spots from last year with a cap rate just under 5%.

Cap rate

4.9%

Median sale price

$457,608

Annual gross rental revenue

$39,372

6. Ludlow, Vermont

Ludlow has moved up two spots from its #8 ranking on last year’s Best Places to Buy a Winter Vacation Home report. As home to the Okemo Mountain Resort, the area is recognized for its world-class amenities and terrain options for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Fun fact: the town of Ludlow has also seen a notable year-over-year jump in travel demand, landing a spot as one of our trending vacation destinations in Vacasa’s 2022 Holiday/Winter Travel Trends.

Cap rate

4.2%

Median sale price

$459,888

Annual gross rental revenue

$41,958

7. Warren, Vermont

Warren is home to the Sugarbush Resort, one of the largest ski resorts in New England. Its expansive slopes extend across Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, with varying difficulties for both beginners and pros. But there is more to Warren than just skiing—the town has cozy coffee shops and plenty of eateries and craft breweries to explore. That, plus the town’s affordable median home cost of just under $370,000, makes it a great place to welcome guests looking to enjoy the charms of an East Coast winter.

Cap rate

4.2%

Median sale price

$369,829

Annual gross rental revenue

$35,334

8. Girdwood, Alaska

This quaint Alaskan mountain town is the ideal winter escape and is conveniently located less than an hour from the Anchorage airport. Hit the slopes on Alyeska Mountain, strap on a pair of snowshoes to see the frozen waterfalls of Winner Creek Trails, or explore the flatter terrain of Moose Meadows. After a chilly day of outdoor activities, bundle up next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa in your own winter haven—an investment that, on average, could gross over $40,000 in revenue.

Cap rate

3.6%

Median sale price

$508,051

Annual gross rental revenue

$40,438

9. Teton Village, Wyoming

Teton Village is a community located at the foothills of the Teton Mountain Range and home to the world-class Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. For a more mellow pastime, take a tram ride through the mountains for unbelievable sights or head to one of the nearby spas to unwind. The area may be known for its winter activities but it is full of summertime adventure as well, with intense mountain biking, evening gondola rides, and outdoor mountainside dining. Though all these perks do make for a higher median sale price, the annual gross rental revenue could bring in more than $100,000.

Cap rate

3%

Median sale price

$2,131,796

Annual gross rental revenue

$105,090

10. Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in Idaho, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and miles of national forests. When snow season hits, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is considered by many as the best skiing in Idaho with over 2,900 skiable acres to explore. Plus, the surrounding state parks are the perfect place to cross-country ski if downhill slopes are not your forte. This destination rounds out our top ten list of Best Places to Buy a Winter Vacation Home with an icy annual gross revenue of nearly $50,000.

Cap rate

2.7%

Median sale price

$935,395

Annual gross rental revenue

$48,619

Our methodology

To determine its ranking of top vacation rental markets, Vacasa analyzed home sales and vacation rental performance data from the last 12 months for vacation destinations throughout the country where Vacasa and its licensed subsidiaries manage at least 50 units. To determine average gross rental revenue (homeowner revenue made from bookings, excluding any fees) for a market, we averaged actual performance data for Vacasa managed units in the past 12 months and adjusted that number to reflect assumed usage by the owner. To calculate average cap rate, we considered the averages of the following in each state: property taxes, utilities, insurance, and property management fees. Markets with strict permit caps or regulations that make it difficult to operate a short-term rental were removed from the list.

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This document is for information and illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to provide “investment advice” or a “recommendation” regarding a course of action. The discussion is general in nature and has not taken into account your personal financial position or objectives. You should consult a licensed financial advisor or other professional to discuss your specific situation.

Estimated rental income figures and home sale prices are based on averages for a given market for the prior 12 months; for any specific property, the actual revenue, expenses, purchase price, and cap rate may differ materially from estimated amounts and depend on a wide range of factors outside Vacasa's knowledge or control, such as the property's condition, layout, and furnishings; expenses associated with the acquisition and ownership of the property (such as property taxes, utility fees, HOA fees, insurance fees, and mortgage-related expenses); rental calendar availability; existing and future regulations; current and future economic, social, and political trends and conditions; and weather and environmental factors. These estimates do not take into account the potential impact of state income taxes.

Many locations restrict or impose conditions on the use of properties as vacation rentals, or restrict vacation rentals to certain defined areas. Before purchasing a particular property as a potential vacation rental a buyer should confirm that the property can legally be used for this purpose.

Vacasa makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the accuracy of this document. Furthermore, Vacasa has no obligation to update, modify or amend this document or to otherwise notify users in the event that any opinion, assumption, forecast or estimate set forth herein changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on statements in this document.