Skip to main content
A view of a beach home with nearby trees at sunset.

By, Lisa Roberts

Second-home destinations are more in demand than ever, especially when it comes to the California real estate market. In addition to that, the recent rise in second home buyers is shifting the real estate landscape. The significant change is mainly pandemic-driven as many choose the freedom to live anywhere in the U.S. This change has made owning a second home more desirable than ever. Many buyers are looking for second homes within driving distance to their hometowns, and more affordable second-home markets are gaining popularity. The in-demand destinations tend to be close to major cities and are vacation-friendly. California has more than enough to offer in this domain; in fact, you might be confused by so many options. Follow our guide for the best places in California to buy a second home for some clarity.

Lake Tahoe

Buying a second home in Lake Tahoe is the dream. It offers warm summers, snowy winters, a breathtaking lake, forests everywhere, and just enough modern amenities. The easy-going atmosphere is what Lake Tahoe is famous for, but it also has shops, restaurants, and plenty of activities. Think of a mini-golf course, driving ranges, a dog park, and all kinds of water sports for the whole family. This is the ideal spot for a second home in California. Lake Tahoe is extremely popular for families to spend summers, ski in the winter, and visit on long weekends. It is located just a few hours from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area and offers incredible scenic views. Owning a second home in Lake Tahoe is an excellent investment for a vacation home and an opportunity for a rental for the remainder of the time—if you are looking to make an extra profit.

An aerial view of Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe is one of the best places in California to buy a second home.

Dana Point and Newport Beach

An exceptional place for a vacation home in California is the stretch of coastline between Dana Point and Newport Beach. This area is in very high demand at the moment with both American and international holidaymakers. Dana Point, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach are all top-notch options in this area. Dana Point Harbor offers gorgeous marinas and countless boutiques but is, more importantly, a starting point for dolphin and whale-watching cruises.

Even though this coastal area is less popular than the famous Manhattan Beach, it is still on the pricey side. Keep in mind that the Newport Beach housing costs are over 100% more expensive than Dana Point. Therefore, if you are looking for a more affordable option to buy a second home, go for Dana Point. But if you need more exclusivity and are willing to invest in the high-end market, Newport Beach is the perfect option.

San Diego

San Diego is one of the best places in California to buy a second home if you are dreaming of a beach house in a city with gorgeous weather year-round. Add to that dozens of miles of beaches with soft white sand. San Diego is ideal for vacationers looking for a relaxing place to escape the bustling city life. The famous city in Southern California offers a myriad of activities and places to visit:

  • Balboa Park
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Historic Gaslamp District
  • Nearby Coronado Island
  • Water excursions
  • Several neighboring towns for day-trips

Napa Valley

California’s famous Napa Valley wine country is a stunning area with massive appeal for wine lovers. It is also attractive to vacationers looking for something other than the beach. It is different from your traditional California getaways, and that’s its primary appeal. Napa Valley is known for hundreds of hillside vineyards in the wine region. If you are a fan of wine and laid-back vacations in nature, you will not go wrong with this beautiful place. Its appeal is also in the proximity to San Francisco. If you are the big city’s resident, owning a second home in Napa will give you an option to visit every weekend if you feel like getting away. The average home price in Napa Valley is around $800,000. The rental market there is also fantastic as it’s a great location for wine lovers, and many tourists take weekend trips to enjoy wine-tasting tours.

Malibu

This beautiful city is famous for its beachy-boho lifestyle and is very close to Los Angeles. Regardless of this proximity, Malibu offers a different culture and way of life ideal for buying a second home by the beach. It is known for its perfect climate and its 21-mile strip of the Malibu coast. The Malibu Colony has been home to Hollywood celebrities for decades, so if you are a fan of that vibe, the vibrant city is an ideal choice for you. You will have no difficulty finding your sense of adventure as you can:

  1. Go rock climbing at Point Dume
  2. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway
  3. Hike to waterfalls
  4. Find your ideal surfing destination
Malibu beach view with white houses lined up along the coast.
The beachy city is ideal for laid-back summer vacation homes.

Big Sur

Big Sur is internationally famous for its stunning natural scenery on the central California coast. It is actually one of the top 35 tourist destinations worldwide. The scenic route through Big Sur is absolutely breathtaking. The natural beauty of Big Sur has been carefully preserved as the city has highly restrictive city regulations. Consequently, there are no billboards, ads, or businesses close to the highway. Big Sur is also very close to many state parks and famous waterfalls that go directly into the ocean. The city has long summers and short, snowy winters. Big Sur is a quiet town perfect for a peaceful second home in California. It should be noted that Big Sur is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S., so be prepared to set aside a larger fund for this investment.

Spending Your Vacations in One of the Best Places in California

Once you have bought your perfect home in one of the incredible destinations, you will want to move some of your things there. However, the relocation team at Mod Movers suggests making any necessary changes before you bring in your furniture. This will allow you to remodel without having to move pieces back and forth.

Moreover, if you are planning to spend vacations there or rent the property while you are in your home base, furnishing the home ahead of time would be super-useful.

A woman sitting on the floor and a man standing on a stool, both painting the walls.
Get movers to help you transfer furniture and decorate with a neutral palette.

Go for a neutral palette when decorating, in case you plan to rent your property for a portion of the year. This way, you will have no problem finding renters and getting a return on your investment in one of the best places in California, if you wish to do so.

Let’s Talk

You’ve got questions and we can’t wait to answer them.

We use cookies and tracking technology in connection with your activities on our website. By viewing and using our website, you consent to our use of cookies and tracking technology in accordance with our Privacy Policy.