How to Choose North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe Real Estate

While North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe might share part of their name, these areas definitely do not share the same identity.  South Lake Tahoe is popular for its nightlife and great casinos.  North Lake Tahoe is all about outdoor activities and community events.

However, you will find there is something available for everyone at both ends of the Lake.


The North Shore of Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of outdoor activities for both the summer and winter months. Summer is spent at the beach, hiking through the forest, golfing, or white water rafting down the Truckee River.

During the winter you can choose from four ski resorts, including Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, and Mount Rose.  You won’t find any large city centers here, but there are some shopping areas located in Tahoe City and Truckee.  Access to the Reno-Tahoe Airport is only a 40-minute drive down the hill from Incline Village.


A small, but popular neighborhood on the Nevada side of North Shore, Incline Village has a population of only 8.777 as of 2010.  It has private beaches that are just for residents, so they don’t get as crowded in the summer as many of the other beaches around the Lake.

It is also the closest town to Sand Harbor, which is the prettiest beach on the Lake and is famous for the picturesque large boulders that stick up out of the water as well as the yearly Shakespeare on the Lake festival.

But privacy comes at a cost.  The average home prices in Incline Village are the highest around the Lake.  The average price was $7 million, with non-lakefront homes averaging at $1.3 million.


If you’re looking for the peaceful setting of the North Shore, but don’t want to pay the high prices in Incline Village, you should take a look at Tahoe City.  It is perched on the shore of Lake Tahoe at the headwaters of the Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s only outlet.  Activities revolve around snow and everything you can do in, on or around it.

During the summer months, you can enjoy the other white stuff, and float down the Truckee River on a white-water rafting trip.  Most homes in Tahoe City are spread out in a variety of smaller neighborhoods.  From lakefront mansions to mountainside condos, there are a variety of housing options in the area.  Average prices were at $2.2 million, with condos starting at $450,000.


Tahoe South is full of diversity, with activities and events for every personality.  The South Shore is home to a thriving art scene, 5 unique casinos, and out-of-this-world nightlife.  Similar to the North Shore, there are plenty of beaches and ski resorts on the South end as well.

With multiple shopping centers, including the Heavenly Village, the South Shore is the place to be if you would rather hit the stores than hit the trails.  But if you want to hit the slopes, it doesn’t get any easier than parking at Stateline and riding the Heavenly Gondola up to the top of the mountain for a full day of carving in the powder.

Like the North Shore, there is a multitude of neighborhoods and property types to choose from on the South Shore. From 1940’s cabins up to 8-bedroom mountain retreats, there is every type of home you can imagine.

Additionally, the California side of South Shore has the lowest prices available at Lake Tahoe, with an average price for the entire area of $525,000.  Homes start around $300,000 in the City of South Lake Tahoe, and lakefront properties start around $2 million.  To see the current market information for every neighborhood in South Shore, click here to view the Market Report.


The Tahoe Keys is one of a kind, with man-made waterways winding around beautiful homes and condos.  If you want to be able to step out your back door on onto your boat to head out for a day on the water, but don’t want to pay $8 million for a lakefront home, the Tahoe Keys is the perfect place for you.  The average price for a home in the Keys is currently at $1,030,000 and condos start at $390,000.


If you are looking for a little more peace and quiet, but don’t want to pay the higher prices for homes on the North Shore, you should take a look at Meyers.  Located just 15 minutes to the Casinos at Stateline. Meyers is a small community that is popular with local residents and very family friendly.  Most neighborhoods back the USFS land which offers miles of hiking and biking trails to enjoy.  There are two golf courses in Meyers,  a few bars, and restaurants that are popular hangouts for locals.  The average price for a home in Meyers is $542,000.


There are a handful of areas on the Nevada side of the South end of the Lake.  Ranging from homes and condos perched on top of the mountain on Kingsbury Grade, to hidden gated communities like Glenbrook and Elk Point. While there aren’t as many homes on the Nevada side of South Shore, there are a vast variety of properties to choose from.

The only question you need to answer is how close to you want to be to the Lake?  Prices are higher on the Nevada side due to the benefits of the tax advantages in the state compared to California, as well as the fact there are fewer homes available.

The average price for a home on the Nevada side of South Shore that isn’t lakefront is $1,027,000.  The lakefront homes average $8,000,000 in comparison.


In the end, you need to decide what area is best for you.  First, start by asking yourself “If money wasn’t an issue, which area would I choose?”.  Your second question to yourself should be “What are my reasons for purchasing a home in Lake Tahoe?”.  Is your goal to be on your boat every day of the summer?  Or do you want to ski from the slopes to your front door?  Is the convenience of being close to shopping important to you?  Or do you want to see more bears and squirrels than other people?  And finally, what price range can you afford?

Then, once you’ve gathered your answers, talk it over with your real estate professional.  Dan Spano and his team can go over any other questions or concerns you may have, and assist you in getting the information you need to make a decision.

*All prices listed are based on sales for the third quarter of 2017.  Due to the small number of sales in the third quarter for some areas, the averages were opened up to a year time-frame.  

How To Find Your Perfect Vacation Home in Lake Tahoe

Skip to content