Seasonal and Recreational Housing “Hot Spots” Found in Northern and Central Wisconsin

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Wisconsin IDEA
Insight • Data • Economics • Analysis

Wisconsin Counties Have Some of the Highest Concentrations of Housing Units for Seasonal and Recreational Use in the Country

Homes for seasonal, recreational, and occasional use account for 4.0 percent of all United States housing units and are concentrated in many counties associated with well-known tourist destinations. While across the country a sizeable number of seasonal and recreational homes are found in metro areas, in Wisconsin, these homes are disproportionately concentrated in rural regions.

Map 1 – Seasonal and Recreational Housing Units as a Percent of all Housing Units

These rural Wisconsin counties are found primarily in Northern and Central Wisconsin and are considered “hot spots” of seasonal and recreational units.

Map 2 – Seasonal and Recreational Housing Units as a Percent of all Housing Units (by Census Tract)

Twenty out of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have more than 1,000 seasonal and recreational housing units and 20 percent or more of their total housing units designated for seasonal or recreational use. These counties are also among the top decile for all U.S. counties in terms of seasonal and recreational housing units as a percent of total housing units.

Figure 1 – Wisconsin Counties with More than 1,000 Seasonal and Recreational Housing Units and 20 Percent of More of All Housing Units Designated for Seasonal and Recreational Use (2015-2019 5-Year Estimates)

Wisconsin’s significant number of seasonal and recreational housing units create varying opportunities and challenges. The impact of seasonal housing development on housing affordability and availability is of particular interest given many of the housing challenges facing Wisconsin’s rural communities.


Data Sources: Figures are from the 2015-2019 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.  Housing units for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use are vacant units used or intended for use only in certain seasons or for weekends or other occasional use throughout the year. Seasonal units include those used for summer or winter sports or recreation, such as beach cottages and hunting cabins. Seasonal units also may include quarters for such workers as herders and loggers. Interval ownership units, sometimes called shared-ownership or time-sharing condominiums, are included here.


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