The 10 Most Affordable Lake House Towns (and the Cheap Thrills We’d Decorate With)

Don’t break the bank on decor either.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
lake house
Photography By Nicole Franzen; Styling By Brittany Albert

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Why is it that the only time we end up at a lake house is when our coworker’s uncle’s neighbor invites us over? Why can’t that friend-of-a-friend ever just be us? Turns out, it can be—if you know exactly which towns to house hunt in. Realtor.com recently revealed the most affordable destinations where you can live your best lake life. To pinpoint these locations, its data team looked at all home listings from the past year within a 10-minute walk from any lake recognized by the U.S. Geological Survey and limited it to places where the average home price is less than $450,000. They also weeded out large cities by honing in on spots that had at least 50 listings over the past year, but no more than 10,000. 

Here’s a look at the top 10 affordable lake towns, including their closest body of water and the median list price in each. 

  1. Rogers City, Michigan (Lake Huron; $142,500)
  2. Lockport, Louisiana (Lake Fields; $145,500)
  3. Fox Lake, Illinois (Fox Lake; $159,500)
  4. Albert Lea, Minnesota (multiple lakes; $177,450)
  5. Zapata, Texas (Falcon Lake; $178,000)
  6. Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio (Lake Erie; $199,500)
  7. Peshtigo, Wisconsin (Peshtigo Flowage 1086; $199,500)
  8. Bull Shoals, Arkansas (Bull Shoals Lake; $199,900)
  9. Forsyth, Missouri (Lake Taneycomo; $209,950)
  10. Caroga Lake, New York (Caroga Lake; $210,000)

If you’re not interested in breaking the bank on a waterfront retreat, you also probably don’t want to spend a fortune decorating it. So we rounded up a few über-budget pieces we think would go great in your summer getaway. 

The Plaid Foundation

Beige Oregon Plaid Wool Area Rug, Rugs USA (from $154)

When Emily Henderson designed this rug for her collaboration with Rugs USA, she imagined the Scandi-farmhouse piece living in high-traffic areas (entryway, playroom, mudroom), but we love the idea of putting the large-scale plaid underneath a quilt-covered bed. 

The Classic Adirondack

Kalicki Outdoor Adirondack Chair, Birch Lane ($143)

On a porch, around a firepit—it doesn’t matter where you put an Adirondack chair at your lake house as long as you have the furniture staple somewhere. This Birch Lane find made our best-of-the-best list because it is constructed from solid hardwood and less than $150. 

The Breezy Pendant Lamp

Tapered Rattan Ceiling Light in Brown, Target ($150)

Filled with textured lighting (like this rattan gem) and cozy throw pillows, the Threshold x Studio McGee collaboration should be a go-to for decorating a lake house on a budget. 

The Sophisticated Twin Bedding

Children's Striped Waffle-Knit Bedspread, Zara Home ($109)

Just because you’ve maximized your guest bedrooms with twin beds doesn’t mean they have to feel childish. As adults, we’d be very happy to crawl underneath this striped waffle-knit duvet. 

The Dreamy Drapery

Liz Linen Pleated Drape, TwoPages ($55)

In tightly packed neighborhoods, window treatments are a must if you want your escape to feel private. We swear by Twopages’s customizable and easy-to-install options. 

The Start to a Saturday Morning

Mora Ceramics 8oz Cappuccino Mugs, Set of 4, Amazon ($35)

As you make your way to your new favorite Adirondack chair, bring a cup of coffee with you. This ceramic set comes with saucers, and everything is microwave- and dishwasher-safe. 

The Slim Side Table

Creative Co-Op Metal Martini Table, Amazon ($70)

Bulky furniture has no place in a small lakeside cottage, so seek out pieces that take up little floor space and are light enough to pick up and move around.

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.

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