A tree-lined street in a New England town.

Zillow users loved small Northeastern towns this year 

Small cities in New Hampshire and Connecticut dominated the search portal's most popular markets for 2023.

December 19, 2023
3 minutes

Not everyone browsing Zillow is shopping for a home — there's a reason the term "Zillowing" has entered the vernacular — but whether users are surfing for fun or to scope out a potential moving destination, some interesting patterns emerge each year.

So where were people most actively Zillowing in 2023? According to the home search giant, site users were interested in smaller towns and cities across the Northeast. Of the 10 most popular markets this year, eight were in the Northeast and two were, perhaps surprisingly, in Ohio.

The top market on this year's list was West Chester, Pennsylvania, which Zillow describes as "a quaint town of about 20,000 people near Philadelphia." But it wasn't just residents of the town searching for a home to buy — Zillow said nearly two-thirds of the listing views in West Chester came from browsers outside the city, which could mean "a possible signal of interest in moving in."

The typical home in West Chester costs about $584,000, Zillow researchers said, making it one of the pricier markets in Pennsylvania, but significantly more affordable compared to nearby big city markets like New York City and Washington, D.C.

Rounding out the top five after West Chester were the New England towns of Nashua, New Hampshire; Manchester, New Hampshire; Wethersfield, Connecticut; and West Hartford, Connecticut.

Connecticut and New Hampshire were especially hot search destinations, making additional appearances further down the list: The seventh most popular place on Zillow this year was Middletown, Connecticut, while Newington, Connecticut was the ninth and Concord, New Hampshire was the tenth. 

Ohio cities Stow — coming in sixth — and Twinsburg, in the eighth spot, completed the list, Zillow reported. 

Top picks for vacationers, retirees 

When looking specifically at vacation destinations, the most popular vacation town was Vermilion, Ohio, located on the shore of Lake Erie about 40 miles west of Cleveland. 

Zillow predicts that higher borrowing costs have influenced buying behavior for vacation homes. It would cost over $1 million to buy in Lavallette, New Jersey — last year's most popular vacation town — while the typical house in Vermilion is a relative bargain at around $225,000, the report said. 

Among retirement destinations, Florida — which has been a migration hotspot — was dethroned, according to Zillow. Retirement towns in the Sunshine State garnered the most searches in 2022, but this year, the Carolinas came out ahead. The top retirement town viewed by Zillow users in 2023 was Pinehurt, North Carolina, while Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, came in a close second. 

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