10 Most Affordable Lake Towns

Water views for less than $450,000? A realtor.com® study identifies where buyers can snag waterfront property at an affordable price.

July 31, 2019

Lakefront homes may offer buyers a chance to get a waterfront property at a more affordable price than a vacation home on the ocean. “Lake towns often offer people an affordable destination with water sports, amenities, natural beauty, and an array of often top-quality dining options,” says Clare Trapasso, senior news editor at realtor.com®. “Some of these lake towns also double as ski resorts in the winter. Those who enjoy cold-weather sports in addition to summer activities may, in fact, be getting a home they can enjoy throughout the year.”

The least expensive lake town, according to realtor.com®, is Jamestown, N.Y., which has a median list price of just $59,000. However, the cost of homes in Jamestown—as well as other affordable lake towns—can vary depending on how close you get to a private shoreline.

Realtor.com® researchers analyzed real estate listings that mentioned keywords like “lake view” or “lake house” in more than 900 U.S. metro areas. To be included in the rankings, the town had to have at least 50 listings over a 12-month period ending in May, less than 150,000 households, and a median list price under $450,000. Researchers also factored into their rankings the percentage of vacation homes in the area, as well as the percentage of outdoor activity, dining, and other metrics.

Researchers ranked the following as the most affordable lake towns in 2019:

1. Branson, Mo.

  • Median list price: $205,900

2. East Stroudsburg, Pa.

  • Median list price: $187,000

3. Port Clinton, Ohio

  • Median list price: $259,900

4. Jamestown, N.Y.

  • Median list price: $59,900

5. Alexandria, Minn.

  • Median list price: $288,900

6. Clearlake, Calif.

  • Median list price: $219,900

7. Spirit Lake, Iowa

  • Median list price: $315,000

8. Mountain Home, Ark.

  • Median list price: $174,900

9. Baraboo, Wis.

  • Median list price: $189,900

10. Sandpoint, Idaho

  • Median list price: $429,000