Some of the expensive lakes in Alabama offer stunning views and a variety of activities, from fishing to kayaking. With its rich history, scenic white-sand beaches, and over 23 million acres of beautiful forestland with mountains and waterfalls, Alabama is undoubtedly among the best states in the southeastern part of the US. Residents in this region enjoy low-cost living, with necessities such as food and housing being unbelievably pocket-friendly. The median home price here was about $268,300 by the end of 2022, way below the national average of roughly $400,000.
Therefore, if you contemplate putting your hard-earned cash into a second home next to a beach, Alabama warrants your consideration. You can easily secure an expensive – but still affordable – luxurious house near some of the state’s picturesque lakes. Ready to discover your top eight options? Let’s dive in!
Nestled in Elmore, Coosa, and Tallapoosa counties, Lake Martin is a reservoir surrounded by some of Alabama’s costliest residential waterfront properties, most averaging between $1,038,179 and $1,182,183. It offers opportunities for various activities, including swimming, waterskiing, camping, golfing, and fishing. Anglers catch many fish species, including:
One of Lake Martin’s most popular landmarks is Chimney Rock, a fantastic spot for cliff jumpers. You’ll also find marinas, restaurants, and shopping areas around the lake, allowing you to enjoy different thrilling activities at your expensive lake house.
You should also explore Lake Tuscaloosa when hunting for a fine, expensive beach property in Alabama. The average price for homes near the reservoir is $804,000. Some cost up to $2,799,000 and offer spacious living rooms, sophisticated kitchen appliances, and large basements.
A house near Lake Tuscaloosa gives you easy access to the reservoir with up to 177 miles of shoreline. Enjoy strolls on the latter, and indulge in relaxing water sports like swimming. On a good day, you’ll likely hook sport fish such as white crappie and bluegill. Some forage species in Lake Tuscaloosa are threadfin shad, minnows, and gizzard shad.
Wilson Lake houses on the market boast an average list price of $635,000, with some costing more than double that amount. Properties near this reservoir in Florence are ideal for homeowners who relish fishing as it hosts different species, including smallmouth bass, saltwater striped bass, and catfish. Bank angling is incredibly popular here, but no one will stop you from exploring the deeper parts of the lake on a boat.
With a second home near Wilson Lake, you can comfortably explore Florence. The city is home to some of Alabama’s most beautiful parks and gardens, including the serene McFarland Park. It also boasts museums, fancy restaurants, and bars. Less than 30 minutes from the reservoir, Florence Mall has over 60 stores welcoming enthusiastic shoppers daily.
With a surface area of 69,000 acres, Lake Guntersville is Alabama’s largest reservoir. Homes for sale in this region come with an average list price of $445,000. While some cost as little as $159,500, others have price tags reading over $3,100,000. Of course, the more expensive a property is, the more quality its features are.
Additionally, Lake Guntersville is a hot spot for bass fishing, so you can always relish the activity whenever you see fit. Other entertaining pursuits to try here are:
- Nature viewing
Moreover, Lake Guntersville is nestled between Gunsterville and Bridgeport, two of Alabama’s most charming cities.
Lewis Smith Lake
The average list price for homes near Lewis Smith Lake is $434,000, with hundreds of options costing between $1,560,000 and $5,250,000, making it another worthwhile region to explore when looking for a pricey lake house within a few miles of the shoreline.
Lewis Smith Lake is Alabama’s deepest reservoir, conveniently situated near exciting towns such as Good Hope, Dodge City, Bremen, Jasper, and Cullman. Securing a second home around Lewis Smith Lake is a wise choice if you fancy:
- Bird watching
- Jet skiing
Additionally, Lewis Smith Lake offers over 500 miles of shoreline, where you can throw parties or special family events while on vacation. This 21,000-acre reservoir also provides breathtaking sunset views.
With most homes averaging around $367,000, Pickwick Lake attracts potential second homeowners in the market for expensive properties. While options with waterfront views cost over $1,000,000, those without are more affordable, costing as low as $160,000.
Alabama’s Pickwick Lake, also located in Tennessee and Mississippi, is famous for its numerous sport fishing locations. Among the many species it harbors are smallmouth bass, sauger, catfish, and crappie. Tennessee’s Pickwick Landing State Park offers campgrounds, a golf course, picnic spots, an eatery, and a marina. Mississippi’s J P Coleman State Park also sits around the lake, providing locations for fishing, waterskiing, and boating.
You’ll find up to 40 properties for sale near Lake Cameron. Their average list price is $346,000, but some are valued at almost $800,000, with spacious front and back porches that offer gorgeous lake views. If you acquire a second home here, you can enjoy fishing, kayaking, boating, and canoeing at your convenience.
Lake Cameron sits on a 200-acre plot, making it Montgomery County’s largest lake. A ton of valuable amenities surround this water body, including:
- Pools and playgrounds
- Fitness centers
- Dog parks
- Pavilions and grilling
- Picnic spots
- Sports court
- Walking trails
With these features, you’ll never run out of entertaining things to do here.
With a budget of about $321,000, you can buy your second home near Wheeler Lake, which sits along the Tennessee River. The Tennessee Valley Authority constructed this reservoir before World War II to generate electrical power and control floods.
Supposing you’re buying your second home near this lake for vacation purposes, you’ll undoubtedly be impressed, especially if you’re a sucker for fishing. There are many hot spots for anglers, allowing them to catch these species:
- Black crappie
- Blue catfish
- Redear sunfish
- Gizzard shad
If wildlife excites you, a home near this lake will give you limitless access to the 35,000-acre Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. This shelter hosts over 100 fish species, migratory birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, including deer, rabbits, and opossums. Besides, it specializes in the propagation of native plants, water level manipulation, farming, and mowing, which you can learn more about during your visit.
What to Consider Before Buying Your Second Home
Think through these four factors before purchasing your big-budget beach house in Alabama:
Lake Features and Activities
When buying your lake property, the nearby water body’s features are the first to consider. For instance, is duckweed an issue? If yes, make peace with the fact that you might not always enjoy the most scenic views because the unsightly weeds spread rapidly. Moreover, they could also kill the fish in the water, meaning angling will be tricky at various times of the year.
Then, you must factor in the wildlife living in and around the lake. Animals like deer, herons, flamingos, and frogs are harmless. But if the waterbody is home to alligators and crocodiles, you must be cautious in your house or around the shore. Sometimes, these fatal reptiles leave the water and can easily bite or even kill you.
What Can You Do Around the Lake?
Your second home should ideally be situated near a lake that supports the fun activities you enjoy. You might stay on the property during vacation or when you crave some time off from your busy work life. Hence, it’ll be more of an entertainment location and should enable you to indulge in things that tickle your fancy.
For example, a beach house on Lake Cameron is perfect for enthusiastic anglers because it has many fishing spots. On the other hand, Lake Martin suits those interested in a long list of watersports, including boating and waterskiing. The reservoir is ideally near several cities, making way for more thrilling pursuits, such as club hopping and shopping.
Some lakes don’t permit activities like camping and motorized boating. If you get a kick out of these endeavors, and they motivate your investment, avoiding buying your property around restricted water bodies is best.
Can You Maintain the Property?
Sinking your money into a lake property as your second home is undoubtedly a great idea. But can you afford it? Remember, you’ll be financially responsible for maintaining two houses and paying back-to-back bills regularly. These will include:
- Repair expenses
- Utilities and upkeep
- HOA fees
- Property tax
- Second mortgage payments
- Travel expenses to and from your two houses
We recommend creating a reasonable plan to maintain your two homes before making your second investment. You should only purchase another property if:
- You’re not neck-deep in debt.
- You have the finances to maintain your two homes for at least six months.
- You’ve already finished paying for your current home.
- You have a college fund for your kids if you have any.
- You have an emergency cash fund.
If you cannot comfortably settle bills for two homes, acquiring the second property is a bad idea.
Why are you investing in lake property in Alabama? Answering this question is critical before paying for the home. If you want a family beach house, it should boast ample space to accommodate your loved ones; otherwise, they might not have the time of their lives as anticipated.
Furthermore, the property must be tailored towards meeting their unique needs based on their ages and preferences. For example, kids require plenty of outdoor space to have fun, so your lake house should provide that. Easy access or proximity to the beach is also a must-have. You want your children to spend only a few minutes walking to the shore where they can plunge and enjoy other watersports, stroll, and play with each other.
On the other hand, if you’re putting your money into a second home to rent it out, you don’t have to factor in your ideal requirements. But considering your target audience’s needs is critical, based on the returns you hope to bring in. Tourists or travelers will have no qualms about parting with a high sum if you offer a deluxe space where they can relax and enjoy themselves. Therefore, prioritize properties with upscale designs and amenities to lure them in.
Renting Out Your Second Home
Remember that renting out your second home in Alabama is not just about providing an elegant space for tenants. You must grasp what it takes to be a landlord in this state. For example, your property and rental income will be taxable. The specific amount you’ll pay will depend on your house’s classification and assessed value, exemptions, and mileage rates. Failure to do that could also attract legal issues that may affect your business.
Thankfully, Alabama lacks statewide rent control, so you can charge as much as you see fit. Factor in these things when setting your rent price:
- Rent of similar nearby properties
- The size of the home
- The pet policy
- The Alabama housing market at the time
- Utilities and amenities
- Location of the house/proximity to the lake
Be straightforward with your tenants when discussing your rent prices. Beating about the bush or revealing hidden costs after they’ve settled into the home will only breed mistrust and ruin your reputation.
The Property’s Condition
The state of the Alabama lake house you’re eyeing should also help you determine if you’re making the right decision. Older houses stand out, owing to their architectural individuality and impeccable craftsmanship. They’re also cheap, so you can opt for them if you’re on a tight budget. But then again, they might require many repairs, prompting you to spend even more money eventually.
While new beach houses boast the latest architectural designs and require minimal maintenance, they are pricier than older properties. Moreover, they feature immature landscaping that significantly reduces their curb appeal for the first few months; this could make finding a tenant challenging if you plan to rent out the home.
Secure Your Alabama Lake Property
If you want to buy an expensive second home in Alabama, these lakes deserve your attention. With a property near any of them, you can have the time of your life fishing, swimming, boating, or indulging in other exciting activities. They’ll also allow you to discover other locations around them, such as parks, cities, museums, and restaurants.
Still, don’t get so excited about becoming a second homeowner that you become reckless during the acquisition process. Remember, investing in a real estate property is a big risk, and you don’t want to make blunders that could cost you your money. Therefore, we recommend collaborating with a trustworthy local realtor well-versed in the Alabama real estate market.
With a professional by your side, you can find a lake house that suits your unique needs in terms of features and affordability. Your experienced realtor will also prevent you from being duped — real estate scams in Alabama are not unheard of.
Summary of The Most Expensive Lakes in Alabama to Buy a Second Home
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