Winter is here, the holidays are approaching and for those of us in the market for a winter home, the research has begun. Looking for a second home is no easy undertaking and shouldn't be taken lightly. Chances are you want to find a place that isn't close to where you currently live, which translates to even more research than you likely did when you bought that house in your hometown or your college town.
With that in mind, RewardExpert turned to data and compiled a list of the best areas in the country to purchase a winter home. Each of these places was judged on the following criteria: Real Estate and Economy, Attractions and Amenities, Transportation Infrastructure, and Hazards to Property and Person.
Broken up by geographical region, here are the best places to buy a winter home:
Northeast: Finger Lakes Region/Schuyler County, N.Y.
- The Finger Lakes Region scored extremely high marks for its large number of breweries, wineries and fine restaurants.
- If you like cities, this area has a wealth of beautiful architecture, but its real gem is the surrounding nature. Popular activities include fishing, boating and hiking.
South Atlantic: Franklin County/Apalachicola, Fla.
- If you want a winter getaway in the sun, there aren't many better options than Franklin County, the least populated county in Florida.
- This area gives residents that "Old Florida" experience without breaking your budget. Although real estate prices have increased 10 percent over the past 12 months, Franklin County is still far more affordable than much of Florida.
Midwest: Houghton County and City, Mich.
- Located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Houghton County is a world away from Detroit and Grand Rapids. If exciting winter activities like snowmobiling and skiing are your cup of tea, this may be the area for you.
- Houghton is one of the snowiest cities in all of the U.S., and each February the city holds a Winter Carnival.
South Central: Taos, N.M.
- Another sunny getaway, Taos is a bit more expensive than most other towns on this list because of the flourishing tourism industry in the surrounding area.
- Aside from unique activities like hot air ballooning, Taos also offers a vibrant arts scene.
Mountain West: Grand County/Moab, Utah
- Grand County and the city of Moab have just recently exploded onto the scene. Vacation homes in this area are red-hot and the property values have unsurprisingly jumped up 11.4 percent in the last year.
- With thousands of square miles of public land to rock climb, mountain bike and hike, there is no more perfect area for the outdoor lover.
- Tied for the Pacific West region are Hood River and Wasco Counties, both of which scored high marks for affordability. Homes here go for less than two-thirds the price of those in neighboring Multnomah County.
- Wasco County is noted for its "coolness" and surrounding wineries and ski attractions.
For the comprehensive list and full breakdown of ratings, visit RewardExpert.