The year 2021 saw the work-from-home revolution carry over from the previous year, with millions of office workers continuing to clock in from home as the coronavirus pandemic remained stubbornly prevalent.
With some workers committed to a permanent work from home lifestyle, many have uprooted themselves from the major cities their jobs are based in — or at least dreamed about it.
New data from Zillow shows what the website purports to be the most popular places of the year, which Zillow measured using page-view traffic, available housing inventory, and price appreciation among other determinators, with the most popular places divided into categories like most popular vacation town, college town, or most popular place overall.
Many of the most popular places have in common the opportunity for outdoor recreation, and relative affordability.
“The most popular places on Zillow reflect a couple of trends we’ve been seeing throughout the pandemic,” said Amanda Pendleton, a home trends expert at Zillow. “People have turned to Zillow to escape and dream of the possibilities a move could bring. Meanwhile, those who can now work remotely, at least occasionally, are exploring new opportunities in areas that offer relative affordability and year-round outdoor living.”
Most popular overall
1. South Lake Tahoe, California
The most popular place of the year overall on Zillow is a year-round vacation destination, with a pristine small town feel within two hours from Sacramento, and three hours from the Bay Area.
Listings in the resort town garnered an average of 5,649 page views per listing, making it the number one most popular town in the vacation town category, and the second most popular in the small town category.
2. Calabasas, California
This Los Angeles Suburb with a typical home value of 1,565,807 is well known for being teeming with A-list celebrities.
Justin Bieber, Drake, the Kardashians, and Miley Cyrus all have residences here, so it’s no surprise Zillow surfers are drawn here in search of “real estate porn.”
Rapper Nas most recently made headlines last month when he spent $3.5 million on a sprawling 10-acre ranch, $1 million over the original asking price.
3. Malibu, California
Rounding out the overall most popular list is another California town popular with the rich and famous.
Boasting a typical home valuation of 3,792,540, the coastal colony is known for its modern mansions with jaw dropping ocean views.
Most popular beach towns
1. Newport, Oregon
This town along Oregon’s central coast had among the highest number of listings mentioning the word “beach” in its description and a high number of page views per listing, according to Zillow.
Known for its natural beauty and the ability to see marine wildlife from its beaches, the typical home valuation in Newport is $428,534.
2. Naples, Florida
Offering attractive dining, shopping, and cultural attractions, the city of Naples is well known as a vacation destination thanks to its white sandy beaches.
But the Gulf Coast city, where the typical home valuation is $478,301, is also popular with families thanks to its booming job market and excellent school system.
3. Lincoln City, Oregon
Another town along Oregon’s central coast, Lincoln City is known for its hilltop houses with commanding ocean views, with the typical house valuation at $456,920 according to Zillow. Residents are attracted to the town’s suburban living, its sandy beaches, and its nightlife.
Most popular retirement towns
1. Lavallette, New Jersey
Under the definition of “retirement towns” as towns where at least 33 percent of the population is over the age of 65 with no children living in their home, the seaside enclave of Lavallette topped Zillow’s list with one of the highest numbers of retirees per town and the most page views per listing, beating out Florida, which is home to seven out of the top ten towns.
Retirees are drawn to the laid back feel of this Jersey Shore town with its beachfront properties and charming Main Street, where the typical house value at $874,325.
2. Dunedin, Florida
One out of the seven Florida towns within the top 10 most popular retirement destinations, Dunedin boasts beautiful Gulf Coast beaches and the nearby pine forests of Honeymoon Island State Park.
Retirees looking for an affordable place to lay down roots are drawn to Dunedin, where the typical home is valued at $359,877 and the cost of living is 8 percent below the national average.
3. St. Pete Beach, Florida
Located on a barrier island west of St. Petersburg, this resort town is unsurprisingly known for its immaculate beaches and for the landmark Don CeSar Hotel that looms over the shore.
The typical home valuation in St. Pete Beach is $607,558, according to Zillow.
Most popular college towns
1. Tempe, Arizona
Based on the number of college students residing in the town and the large number of rental listings viewed there, Zillow determined that Tempe was the most searched college town of 2021.
Tempe is home to Arizona State University, which has a huge student body of over 150,000 students, which creates a huge demand for rentals in the city of 187,454.
2. Claremont, California
Second on Zillow’s list of the most popular college towns is Claremont, home to several small liberal arts colleges including Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Pitzer College, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College.
The population 36,266 city is known as “the city of trees and PhD’s”
3. Narragansett, Rhode Island
This scenic Rhode Island village is known mostly as a vacation destination for New Englanders in the summertime, but it’s also home to the bay campus of University of Rhode Island, the largest university in the state with a student population of 18,318.
Most popular vacation towns
1.Big Bear Lake, California
Following a pandemic trend, second home destinations saw a huge spike in attention during 2021, and a higher pending sales growth than the nation as a whole, according to Zillow.
Big Bear Lake, which has one of the highest volumes of housing units for vacation or secondary use, is known for the Bear Mountain ski resort, and its location within the San Bernardino National Forest, which has some of the best hiking trails in southern California.
2. Lake Arrowhead, California
Also located within the San Bernardino forest, Lake Arrowhead is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise despite the risk of wildfires, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, skiing, and bicycling within the ‘Alps’ of Southern California.
3. Holmes Beach, Florida
Located along Anna Maria Island, northwest of Sarasota, Holmes Beach lays claim to having some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, with pure white sand and clear turquoise waters.