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Buying a Year Round Home on Cape Cod

by Fran B.
(Plymouth, MA)

Question: My husband and I are looking to move to Cape Cod. We are middle-age with no children and are looking for neighborhoods with mostly year-round residents. Barnstable Village looks very quaint, but we wonder about how it is year-round. We want a piece of Cape Cod but don't want to live in downtown Hyannis or that area. Cummaquid also looks nice but, again, we wonder about year round. Could you give me some pointers? Thank you.

Dee's Reply: Hello, Fran - That's an interesting question! Until you asked, I had never given much thought to the numbers when it comes to the year-round population in each town. So I've done some quick investigating to see what I could find out.

Year-Round and Summer Population by Town

Looking at a few sources, it appears that my initial thoughts were correct. The Upper and Mid-Cape towns have the highest number of year-round residents. The Lower Cape towns, and especially the Outer Cape towns, have significantly fewer.

To give you a general sense of it, here are some estimates. The first number represents year-round population, the second represents summer population:

Upper Cape

Bourne - 29,000/40,000

Sandwich - 20,000/41,000

Mashpee - 14,000/35,000

Falmouth - 33,000/109,000

Mid Cape

Barnstable - 47,000/120,000

Yarmouth - 24,000/50,000

Dennis - 15,000/65,000

Lower Cape

Harwich - 13,000/38,000

Brewster - 10,000/24,000

Chatham - 7,000/25,000

Orleans - 6,000/22,000

Outer Cape

Eastham - 5,000/30,000

Wellfleet - 3,000/26,000-30,000

Truro - 2,000/25,000-30,000

Provincetown - 3,000/30,000

Year-Round and Summer Population by Neighborhood

When it comes to which neighborhoods will have the most "year rounders", that's a tough one. Each neighborhood within a town/village is distinct, and the numbers of year-round and summer-only residents changes as property ownership changes.

In my experience over the years, my sense is that neighborhood demographics are fluid over time.

For example, in our Yarmouth neighborhood, we've seen some major changes in the last 5 years. Kids who grew up here have left home, and their parents have down-sized to condos or smaller homes in a different part of town. Older year-rounders have become part-timers, now opting to spend their winters in warmer climes. Homes that were once full-time residences have been sold to out-of-towners who use them for second homes or investment properties.

In your message to me, you mentioned that you were considering looking for a home in Barnstable Village or Cummaquid. Nice choices!

Those two lovely little villages are on the quaint north side, along cape Cod Bay, where commercialism is at a minimum and life seems to move at a slower pace, even during the busy summer months.

There are fewer tourist lodgings (hotels, B&Bs and summer rentals) on the north side of the Cape. So I'd expect the neighborhoods of Barnstable Village and Cummaquid would have more of a year-round population, proportionally speaking, than many south-side neighborhoods have. But that's just my gut instinct. I'm not up on the current demographics of Barnstable Village or Cummaquid, by any means.

More in-depth investigation is definitely in order. Here's how I'd suggest you, and anyone else who's thinking of buying a home on Cape Cod, go about it ...

Tips for Buying a Year-Round Home on Cape Cod

Choose a Town or Area

The Cape is a big place. And making a real estate purchase, especially for a full-time residence, is a big step both financially and lifestyle-wise!

The first thing I always recommend for prospective Cape Cod home buyers is to spend as much time exploring the Cape as you possibly can before you begin seriously looking for your new home.

Get a feel for each town, for it's unique "personality". See what's where as far as the day-to-day necessities of life are concerned - things like grocery stores, gas stations, professional services, etc.

Once you've found a town or area that feels right for you, come back again in a different season. If you were here during the summer, come back in the off-seeason. Stay for a few days or more, and see how the town feels to you then. If you still love it, then go for it!

Finding the Right Neighborhood

IMHO, your next step should be to contact a local real estate professional. Specifically, one who specializes in properties in your preferred Cape Cod town.

There are lots of real estate brokers/agents all over the Cape. Be sure to choose one who has in-depth knowledge of your chosen town, its demographics, and changing market. That's the best person to rely on to every step of the way to find your perfect Cape Cod home.

If you already have a local real estate broker or agent in mind, you're all set. If not, please feel free to drop me a note via my private contact form, and I'll get back to you with some recommendations.

Happy house hunting!

Best Regards,


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