South Lake Tahoe, California, took the top slot, and it’s easy to see why. The city boasts ample access to outdoor activities and proximity to larger cities in California and Nevada — making it the perfect weekend escape. It’s about an hour from Reno and a two-hour drive to Sacramento (and its suburb of Rocklin, California, ranked on Money’s 2021 Best Place to Live list).
The typical home in South Lake Tahoe is valued at $692,792, according to Zillow’s home value index (though it’s a good idea to take Zillow’s home valuations with a grain of salt). Listings in South Lake Tahoe averaged 5,469 page views on Zillow’s platform.
In addition to naming the most popular place overall to look for homes in the U.S., Zillow also listed winners in different categories — like most popular beach town and most popular retirement town. The rankings for each category were determined using Zillow’s page-view traffic, housing inventory and price appreciation, as well as other metrics that measure consumer demand like typical home values over the last year, the company said.
Most places on the list are located in the western United States, where the housing market continues to surge (one listing in San Francisco recently sold for $1 million above its asking price). The most popular small town in 2021 was Calabasas, California, a ritzy suburb of Los Angeles, where the typical house is worth more than $1.5 million.
Zillow’s most popular beach town is more affordable: The average house in Newport, Oregon, is valued at $428,534. California is also home to Zillow’s most popular vacation town: Big Bear Lake.
The most popular retirement town was Lavallette, New Jersey. Tempe, Arizona, home to Arizona State, was named the most popular college town.
Zillow home trends expert Amanda Pendleton says the list of 2021’s most popular places were influenced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "People have turned to Zillow to escape and dream of the possibilities a move could bring,” she said in a statement. “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."