Vacation Homes: South Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe    

Tahoe offers a rare combination of omnipresent sunshine (three out of four days) and some of the nation's deepest annual snowfalls (40-plus feet). There's also exceptional road and mountain biking and, of course, watersports. The trade-off for buying on the affordable South Shore? A strip of minor-league casinos and no real community spirit. But change is coming. A prime 12-acre lakefront parcel of tacky motels was just razed to make way for a parklike village project, and three LEED-certified residential developments are under way. Meanwhile, California's largest ski resort, Heavenly Mountain, poured half a billion dollars into improvements. "The South Shore is reinventing itself," says realtor Elaine Casteleyn, of Exclusively Lake Tahoe.
NUMBERS: Entry-level homes on the California side begin at $200K. Nevada prices run about 25 percent more, but property taxes are low.
INTEL: There are great deals in Tahoe Keys, a water-centric development with canals leading to the lake.
ACCESS: Sixty miles west of Reno, 3.5 hours east of San Francisco.

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