The 16 Most Popular Housing Markets of 2021

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Happy couple buying a house
Roman Samborskyi /

If you could live anywhere, where would you go? According to searches on the real estate website Zillow, many people would choose a town in one of just seven states.

Using searches and other metrics such as housing inventory and price appreciation, Zillow recently ranked the most in-demand housing markets of 2021. The top three cities in each of six categories are all found within these states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island

Following is a look at the most popular towns in each category.

Most popular beach towns

Newport, Oregon lighthouse
RuthChoi /

Newport, Oregon, ranked as the most popular beach town on Zillow. The typical home there costs $428,534. It’s known for its coastal beauty, “an eerie wax museum” and lighthouses, according to The Oregonian.

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • Naples, Florida
  • Lincoln City, Oregon

Most popular retirement towns

Lavallette Beach, New Jersey
Royal Flush /

Lavallette, New Jersey, is the most popular retirement town in the country, under Zillow’s definition of “where at least 33% of the population is over the age of 65 and has no children or other relatives (other than their spouse) living in the home.” The typical home value there is $874,325.

While it didn’t rank in the beach category, it nonetheless bills itself as “the ideal family seashore resort.”

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • Dunedin, Florida
  • St. Pete Beach, Florida

Most popular vacation towns

Big Bear Lake, California
Jack Armstrong /

Zillow highlights Big Bear Lake, California, as a popular town for vacations, thanks to its abundant lakes, mountains and hiking trails — not to mention a lot of vacation homes. It’s also known for its Oktoberfest.

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • Lake Arrowhead, California
  • Holmes Beach, Florida

Most popular college towns

Tempe Arizona
AevanStock /

Tempe, Arizona, is the most popular college town, and home to Arizona State, which had the highest undergraduate enrollment in the country for 2020. It was also named one of the “10 Best Cities to Sell a House in 2021.”

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • Claremont, California
  • Narragansett, Rhode Island

Most popular small towns

Calabasas, California
Lux Blue /

Calabasas, California, is actually the second-most popular small town, but Zillow highlighted it in this category, presumably so the overall most popular town, South Lake Tahoe, which also leads this category, wouldn’t hog too much attention. The definition of “small” used here is a place with a population between 15,000 and 25,000.

Zillow notes a significant portion of the residents here are celebrities, and it shows in the home prices: the typical house is worth more than $1.5 million. Some of the famous residents known to have lived in Calabasas include the Kardashian family, Drake, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ozzy Osbourne.

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • South Lake Tahoe, California
  • Evergreen, Colorado

Most popular overall

South Lake Tahoe, California
By Adonis Villanueva /

The most popular overall town is South Lake Tahoe, California — which also took the top spot for most popular small town. The typical home here is worth $692,792. The town is known for both its beaches and its skiing.

Rounding out the top spots in this category are:

  • Calabasas, California
  • Malibu, California

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