This U.S. Small Town Has a Lake With Water That 'Looks Like the Caribbean' — and It's One of the Most Affordable Places to Buy a Vacation Home

Sandy beaches, spectacular waterfront views, and year-round recreation draws second-home buyers to this beautiful corner of the Great Lakes State.

With 11,000 lakes transforming it into a hub for water activities and robust winter sports opportunities, Michigan is the quintessential year-round vacation spot. And you don't have to break the bank if you want to live out your lake life dreams here, as the midwestern state regularly ranks as one of the most affordable places to buy a second home. Case in point? According to's latest report on this year's most inexpensive lake towns, Michigan's Rogers City holds second place after Danville, Illinois.

The company points out that the median listing price in Rogers City, which is on the banks of Lake Huron, is $140,000 — or $79 per square foot. (For reference, the median listing price for July in the U.S. was $440,000 and $260,000 in Michigan.)

Rogers City is home to fewer than 3,000 residents, so it is the quintessential laid-back small town that also happens to offer epic recreation. Think picture-perfect beaches, lighthouses, hiking trails, waterfalls, parks, and notoriously good salmon fishing.

"Rogers City has areas with really nice sandy beaches and fantastic views. There are days when the water looks like you are in the Caribbean," Audrey Martinchek, managing associate broker and a luxury property specialist at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate, told Travel + Leisure.

Founded in the 1870s, the town was named after William E. Rogers, whose land it sits on. Nowadays, the Presque Isle Historical Museum and the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum, both in Rogers City, house many artifacts and photographs documenting its history and that of the Great Lakes area. Travelers drawn to the nostalgic allure of lighthouses shouldn't miss its lighthouses: the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, and the New Presque Isle Lighthouse built between 1840 and 1896.

<p>Paul McDonald/Getty Images</p>

Paul McDonald/Getty Images

However, most visitors come to Rogers City to enjoy its natural beauty. Bordered by The Herman Vogler Conservation Area, a 270-acre wooded area on the banks of the Trout River, with miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, as well as several state parks, the town has no shortage of beautiful and peaceful places to unwind.

Martinchek explained that the nearby cities of Cheboygan and Alpina have many urban amenities, such as restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, and medical care facilities and services, that Rogers City residents use.

"From a housing standpoint, Rogers City is a charming town with neat little shops and lovely homes. It attracts people who want to have a little peace and quiet in the heart of a beautiful, natural setting," she added.

Of course, if you'd like to own a home on the water, you have to be ready to pay more than the median list price.

Donna Barlow of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty explained that waterfront properties cost between $140 and $180 per square foot, depending on the residence's size, condition, and location. However, she noted that compared to other areas in Michigan, "prices in Rogers City are much more reasonable."

Because of the small size of Rogers City, the town doesn't necessarily have clearly defined neighborhoods, but it offers a great variety of architectural styles.

"On the lake, for example, you might look at 30 homes and notice that none of them looks alike. It's a grand range of everything from log houses and Cedar Shake-style homes to cottages and more traditional styles," Martinchek explained.

If you are serious about purchasing a second home here, whether to use it as a family getaway or as a short-term rental, Martinchek suggested having all your documentation and proof of funds ready.

"Anything on the water in Rogers City is like everything else in Northern Michigan: It goes quickly with multiple offers," she added.

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