The most popular market among Zillow surfers this year was West Chester, Pennsylvania. After the West Coast ruled in 2021 and the Midwest took the top spot last year, the Northeast dominated this year’s list.

Zillow surfers generally gravitated toward smaller cities in 2023. Of the 10 most popular markets, only one — Manchester, New Hampshire — has a population of more than 100,000, and most have less than half that number.

Top 10 Most Popular Markets of 2023 on Zillow

  1. West Chester, Pennsylvania
  2. Nashua, New Hampshire
  3. Manchester, New Hampshire
  4. Wethersfield, Connecticut
  5. West Hartford, Connecticut
  6. Stow, Ohio
  7. Middletown, Connecticut
  8. Twinsburg, Ohio
  9. Newington, Connecticut
  10. Concord, New Hampshire

Chula Vista, California, won out for the most popular large city. South Portland, Maine, was the most popular seaside town, while Vermilion, Ohio, took the top spot among vacation towns. North Carolina’s Pinehurst edged out Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, for the top retirement town. West Chester also ranked first among college towns, with Kent, Ohio, coming in just behind it.

“Affordability was the word on home shoppers’ minds this year, and it shows in the most popular cities that buyers on Zillow gravitated toward,” said Zillow Chief Economist Skylar Olsen in a news release. “Heading into next year, the winds appear to be shifting just a bit. Buying a home will still be expensive in much of the country, but more listings and much flatter home price growth will make life easier for home shoppers.”

To rank the most popular markets among Zillow surfers, Zillow analyzed housing metrics that indicate consumer demand — including page-view traffic, home value growth, and days on the market — for nearly 2,300 U.S. cities.

Most Popular on Zillow Overall: West Chester, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania, a quaint town of about 20,000 people near Philadelphia, took the top spot in Zillow’s list of 2023’s most popular markets.

Strong interest among home shoppers on Zillow has helped push West Chester home values about 8% higher over the past year. The typical home in West Chester is worth about $584,000, putting it among the more expensive cities in Pennsylvania. But given its relative affordability compared to larger markets nearby, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., those looking for a break from city life may see West Chester as an attractive and affordable place to call home.

West Chester ranked within the top 100 cities in Zillow page views per listing in Zillow’s rankings, far outperforming its size. Almost two-thirds of those views came from outside the city, possibly signaling interest in moving there.

While West Chester took the top spot, New England towns were the favorite among Zillow surfers this year: Seven of the 10 most popular markets of 2023 were in either New Hampshire or Connecticut.

Most Popular Large City: Chula Vista, California

While affordability ruled the day for many home shoppers on Zillow, the San Diego area also had a strong pull. Chula Vista, just south of San Diego, was the most popular large city — those with a population of 250,000 or greater — among Zillow surfers. The typical home in Chula Vista is worth about $808,000San Diego itself, with a typical home value of about $962,000, ranked third.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, took second in Zillow’s most popular large cities ranking. Cincinnati and Durham, North Carolina, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Most Popular Seaside Town: South Portland, Maine2

South Portland was the most popular seaside town among Zillow surfers this year.  Buyers eyeing a home in South Portland must move quickly; homes that sold there in 2023 typically found a buyer after just one week on the market.

Two Connecticut cities — West Haven and Milford — were the second and third-most-popular seaside towns this year. Oceanside, California, was the top Pacific Ocean destination, ranking fourth overall.

Most Popular Vacation Town: Vermilion, Ohio3

Situated along the shore of Lake ErieVermilion came out on top in Zillow’s rankings of the most popular vacation towns this year. Vermilion is a popular summer destination for boaters and those looking for a city with old-fashioned charm.

This year’s results may reflect the impact that higher mortgage rates are having on even those shopping for a vacation home. While last year’s most popular vacation townLavallette, New Jersey, boasts a typical home value of more than $1 million, the typical home in Vermilion is worth a little more than $225,000.

Most Popular Retirement Town: Pinehurst, North Carolina4

While Florida held the top spots for Zillow’s most popular retirement towns last year, the Carolinas took the crown this year. Pinehurst was the most popular retirement town among Zillow surfers in 2023, edging out Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

With warm climates and golf courses galore, it’s easy to see why both cities are popular among retirees.

Most Popular College Towns: West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Kent, Ohio5

Zillow’s most popular market overall for 2023, West Chester, also took the title of the most popular college town, as the home of West Chester University. Coming in second was Kent, Ohio, with Kent State University.

Rounding out the top five were Newark, Delaware (University of Delaware); San Luis Obispo, California (California Polytechnic State University); and Ypsilanti, Michigan (Eastern Michigan University).

Large cities are defined as having a population of at least 250,000 people, according to 2021 American Community Survey data.
Seaside towns are defined as areas where more than half of listing descriptions on Zillow mentioned the beach and excluded all cities that don’t feature the word “beach” in at least 50 listings on Zillow.
Vacation towns are defined as areas where more than 33% of the housing units are designated for non-primary use, according to 2021 American Community Survey data.
Retirement towns are defined as areas where at least 33% of the population is over the age of 65 and has no children or other relatives (other than a spouse) living in the home.
College towns are defined as cities with at least 20% of the population enrolled in higher education, according to 2021 American Community Survey data.

Source: Zillow