The 5 Cheapest Lakes in California to Buy a Second Home

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: September 27, 2023
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Many homeowners are looking to secure a second home. Having a second house for vacationing is a dream many of us have, especially when they’re lakefront properties! When it comes to California, the term “cheap” might be different for other states. California is quite expensive to live in, and many residents live in or near poverty. So, most of the prices in these areas could be pretty shocking and might not be considered very cheap. Let’s explore these beautiful lakes and what they have to offer!

1. Clear Lake

This natural freshwater lake, just north of Napa and San Francisco, is the largest freshwater lake in the entire state. It’s also quite old, considered to be the oldest, at nearly half a million years old! It got its name from settlers in the 1800s thanks to the abundance of clear air in the region. The entirety of Lake County is constantly a top contender when it comes to the annual “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association. The lake is quite warm thanks to volcanic activity and constant sunshine. The cost of living is quite reasonable, and you can expect to spend anywhere between $300,000 to $600,000 for a home in this area.

Fishing is a popular pastime here, with a record largemouth bass weighing in at 17.52 pounds.

©Kim Joar Bekkelund / Creative Commons – License

2. Shasta Lake

Also known as Lake Shasta, this manmade lake was created back in 1948 when the Shasta Dam was built across the Sacramento River. This lake is crucial when it comes to flood control for Sacramento Valley. The area has numerous trails to explore via bike, foot, or even horseback riding! Plenty of hikers and mountain climbers find their way to this hotspot thanks to the beautiful Mount Shasta that looms just overhead. You’re sure to see plenty of wildlife while fishing and hunting, too. You can find a home further from the water for pretty cheap, but homes on the lake can run you over $500,000.

Lake Shasta landscape

Shasta Lake has 370 miles of shoreline.

©Devin Powers/Shutterstock.com

3. Lower Lake

A blacksmith shop, a post office, and a single home were the first things built here on Lower Lake back in 1858. Located near the city of Clearlake, the population of Lower Lake has grown continuously over the years. The average value of homes here is around $400,000, but you will definitely find some pretty high-priced houses in this area. If vineyards and wineries are a passion of yours, Lower Lake is the place to be. Wine walking tours and wine tastings are particularly popular activities in Lower Lake. Its proximity to Clearlake makes it a good choice for those looking for some variety in their leisure.

Located near the city of Clearlake, the population of Lower Lake has grown continuously over the years.

©Marthlu ParkerV, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

4. Lake Almanor

This large reservoir in northeastern California was created by Great Western Power Company in 1914 after the Feather River was dammed, creating a lake. Its name came from the Vice President of the company, Guy C. Earl, who named it after his daughters Alice, Martha, and Elinore. Though it has a low population, this percentage has steadily grown over the years as more Californians discover this hidden gem. There is plenty to do on this body of water, from fishing to boating, golfing, and horseback riding; there’s something for everyone! You might be surprised to find some $3 million homes in the area, but there are many affordable homes and plots of land that you can purchase to build your own second home.

There is plenty to do on Lake Almanor, from fishing to boating, golfing, and horseback riding; there’s something for everyone!

©Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

5. Eagle Lake

The second largest natural lake, Eagle Lake, is a closed-basin lake that is millions of years old. Located in Northeastern California, there are plenty of communities of homes that you can peruse. This lake has long been known for having heavy winds and is the only watershed that supports native Eagle Lake trout. This lake is famous for its fish and wildlife, with popular birding areas dotted around the shores. Water skiing and camping are common pastimes here, too. Homes in the area have a wide range of prices, with well-priced empty lots as well as larger, custom homes. There’s something for everyone here!

Homes in the Eagle Lake area have a wide range of prices, with well-priced empty lots as well as larger, custom homes.

©D BREW, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Summary of the Cheapest Lakes in California to Buy a Second Home

RankLake
1Clear Lake
2Lake Shasta
3Lower Lake
4Lake Almanor
5Eagle Lake

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Leonardo H. Bandeira/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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