House in Nantucket – Things to Know Before Acquiring a Property

For over 70 years, Nantucket has become a leading destination in New England for people looking for second and third homes or vacation homes.

House in Nantucket

In fact, in 2021, the real estate market of Nantucket reached record-high sales volumes.

Today, there is a relatively limited choice of residential and commercial properties on the island. This means that it is recommended to act fast if you find a property of your liking.

Still, if you have decided to buy a property in Nantucket, be it for a permanent or vacation residence or a business, there are some factors and specifics which you should probably be aware of and keep in mind.

Here are the things to know regarding the purchase of property and life in Nantucket all year round.


Life on the island is different from the mainland

Even though this island is not so far away from mainland USA, and is in fact only 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it is still isolated and not as easy to reach or leave, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Normally, the only ways to get to Nantucket are via one of the ferries or by airplane. There are no bridges or tunnels, so you can’t drive to and from it. To take your car there, you will need to get on the traditional car ferry of the Steamship Authority.

But in cases of storms, heavy fog, snowfall, and other extreme weather, the transport to and from the island can be limited or may halt altogether.

So, you will need to be prepared to deal with such potential situations.

Also, even though there are various stores, hardware stores, and markets in Nantucket, many of the products are delivered and shipped from the mainland. So, the prices for delivery and for the end products are higher, and in some cases may take more time to receive a delivery of a product of your choice than when shopping on mainland USA.

Last but not least, the island of Nantucket is relatively small, and its permanent population is only about 11,000 residents. The community is very tight-knit, and nearly everybody knows everyone else. So, if you decide to live there permanently, you should be prepared to be recognized by most people and be asked to participate in very active community services, charities, and life.

The different neighborhoods in Nantucket have their pros and cons

While Nantucket is small, there are still various neighborhoods and areas that are quite different from one another.

For example, the historic downtown of Nantucket is in a New England style. Siasconset is a village which is in a more European style.

The town of Nantucket itself is made up of different neighborhoods. There is the historic downtown with some of the oldest mansions, houses, and streets, and nearby are the wharves and Brant Point Lighthouse.

Other areas on the island include Cisco and Madaket, preferred destinations by younger people, surfers, and similar. Siasconset, with its beautiful weathered gray shingle-style cottages and old-fashioned gardens, is a preferred village for those looking for a more peaceful and relaxing coastal place to live.

Other areas include Quidnet, Miacomet, Cliff, Quidnet, Polpis, and more.

It is recommended to select the neighborhood according to your personal lifestyle preferences, as some of them are busier and more modern, while others are quieter and more private.

Renovations and building on the island are complicated and expensive

Before buying a property in Nantucket, you should keep in mind that the regulations and rules for performing renovations and construction work on the island are very strict.

The Historic District Commission of Nantucket is in charge of preserving the architecture, historical and cultural charm, outlook, and infrastructure.

So, there are very strict codes even for details such as the shape of the roof, the height of the house, the colors of the shingles used, and more.

Each building needs to be approved before being constructed or renovated.

Plus, because of the distance from the mainland, the prices for construction materials and for construction work and renovations are quite a lot higher than elsewhere in the USA.

All property owners pay a Land Bank Tax

Before buying a property in Nantucket, you should be aware that you will need to pay a 2% fee from the buying price to the Land Bank and the conservation organizations of the island.

This tax ensures that all flora and fauna on the island remain as untouched and protected as possible and that access to all beaches and to the waterfront remains free.

Because of these conservation and preservation laws, building a brand new property is very difficult and quite limited on the island of Nantucket.

This is yet another reason why you should make a quick offer if you find a property which you like in Nantucket.

Maintaining the property is expensive

Providing proper care and maintenance of a house or other property on Nantucket is expensive. This is especially true if you will not be living there in the winter and out of the summer season.

The reason is that there can be heavy snowfall, rain, and storms in the winter, which like this year, can cause serious floods and water damage.

Finding locals to maintain your property there all year round can cost much more than using such a service in the mainland USA.

You may want to rent your property out

Renting out private homes for vacationers and short and long-term visitors is common practice in Nantucket.

This is a way to get back some of your investments for buying the property there for the months when you will not be using the house yourself.

Thankfully, many agents and agencies deal with renting out all kinds of homes and properties on the island, which you can hire to take care of this matter for you.

Erin Emanuel