Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Buying Secrets Issue 4.
In Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Buying Secrets Issue 1 we looked at the variations in lake water and shorefront as very key considerations when buying a Winnipesaukee lake home. In Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Buying Secrets Issue 2 we looked at how some waterfront lots are superior to others. In this issue we’ll take a broad look at the four communities that border the north and east side of this wonderful lake: Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, and Wolfeboro. Future articles will explore the best waterfront locations in each town!
Center Harbor is located at the north end of Lake Winnipesaukee and covers about 13 square miles and has a population of around 1,100 year round residents and many times that in the summer. Center Harbor is a sleepy little community that boasts a small commercial area located right on the bay. There’s a great hardware store, restaurants, unique shops, a supermarket, and a quilting shop. There is also a wonderful furniture store that has the right kind of stuff to fill your new vacation home.
Center Harbor hasn’t changed a whole lot (population-wise that is) with zero population growth from 1990 to 2000. The population does explode a bit in the summer, which is to be expected in this historic long time resort. There is one guest who comes every winter though; the M/S Mount Washington makes Center Harbor her winter home.
There are not a lot of Winnipesaukee waterfront homes sold in Center Harbor because…well, just because the only Winni waterfront is on a short stretch of Rt 25 coming into town from Meredith. You are just not going to find many Winnipesaukee lakefront homes on the market! Center Harbor actual has more frontage on Squam Lake, Lake Winona, and Waukewan so there are other options for those looking to own a lakefront property in this great little town.
Getting to and from Center Harbor would seem pretty straightforward and it really is except perhaps in the height of the summer season when you might think you were on Long Island, NY. The main access to town is from Interstate 93 Exit 23, across Rt 104 to Rt 3 North, to Rt 25 in downtown Meredith. That Rt 3 and Rt 25 intersection is a bit of a bottleneck causing major traffic both heading to Center Harbor and Moultonborough as well as those leaving in the other direction. There is a secret alternative route that locals and long time visitors know to take to avoid this traffic jam!
Moultonborough is the largest Winnipesaukee lakefront community with 73 square miles of land and 65 miles of shorefront on several different lakes. Because of the amount of waterfront properties and with many of them being seasonal, Moultonborough has one of the lower property tax rates in the State at $8.22 per thousand! That makes owning waterfront property here a lot more affordable. The there are about 5,000 year round residents plus many thousands more in the summer!
I would call Moultonborough more of a destination waterfront community. It is a little more remote to get to for people coming up from the Boston market and takes another half hour or more travel time compared to going to Meredith or Gilford. So when you get there…you are likely to stay there! But the trip is worth it for those looking for a little but more relaxed and laid back waterfront experience.
The Town has it all… except for a major supermarket that is! Natural beauty, waterfront galore, a solid infrastructure including a new Town Hall, fire and police facilities, a great school system, and that low, low tax rate Why wouldn’t they be friendly!?!
Moultonborough is home to the “Castle in the Clouds,” which is an estate set high up in the Ossipee Mountains and was originally called “Lucknow”. The property has stunning, sweeping views of Lake Winnipesaukee. It is a great place to get a sense of the size and grandeur of Lake Winnipesauke. The town has lots of restaurants, pubs, and shops strung along Route 25. You can dine out at the Bob House, the Village Kitchen, and the fabulous Woodshed Restaurant (which is packed even in the dead of winter.)
You’ll find one of the main waterfront areas in town located down on the “Neck” which eventually will lead you down to Long Island…not to be confused with the one in New York! The Neck is pretty much all residential with the exception of marinas, some summer camps for kids, and Jo Jo’s Country Store which has the best whoopee pies around.
If you are looking for Lake Winnipesaukee waterfront or water access property and the extra travel time is not a concern, then you are likely to end up looking here. The sheer abundance of waterfront usually means there are lots of properties on the market.
Tuftonboro is located on the eastern side of the lake between Moultonborough and Wolfeboro on Rt 109. It is comprised of several small villages; Mirror Lake, Tuftonboro Corner and Melvin Village. The town covers about 34 square miles and is home to about 2,400 people. Like Moultonborough, Tuftonboro has a large amount of seasonal waterfront properties which help lower the property tax rate to an affordable $10.77 per thousand.
Depending on where you are coming from, Tuftonboro is perhaps a little more remote and it feels like a world apart from the hustle and bustle you might be used to. You won’t find any shopping here other than a couple of convenience stores, but you will find a charming New England community that takes you back to simpler times. If you are looking for solitude and want to be just a little off the beaten path, Tuftonboro could be for you.
Getting to Tuftonboro can be a bit of a trek depending on where you want to be in the community and where you are coming from. If you are coming from the seacoast area, you’d likely make the journey up Rt 11 from the Spaulding turnpike and pick up Rt 28 in Alton and come through Wolfeboro on Rt 109. Other visitors will arrive via Rt 109 coming south from Moultonborough. Either way, it can be an adventure in the height of the summer season!
Governor John Wentworth built his summer vacation home on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro in 1771 making it the “oldest summer resort in America”… or so they say! Wolfeboro covers about 58.5 square miles and has a year round population of 6,600. The town also has a pretty affordable tax rate of $14.98 per thousand.
Wolfeboro is one of those quintessential lakefront communities. The Main Street is lined with white colonial homes, quaint shops, eateries, and ice cream stands down by the bay and docks. You can sit down by the waterfront and watch the comings and goings of the island folk and other boaters who come to this port for supplies or perhaps lunch and shopping. The M/S Mt. Washington docks here as well and offers tours of the lake.
Wolfeboro is very much an affluent, upscale community. The town proclaims that it has the 17th highest per capita income in the country. I guess I would believe that to be true based on some of the truly amazing waterfront properties in town! Wolfeboro certainly is a highly desirable community to live in.
There’s plenty to do in town beyond the obvious aquatic activities. If you are up for golf, Wolfeboro has a beautiful 18 hole public course with additional private courses just a short drive away. The kids will enjoy the Wright Museum which is all about WWII and there is the New Hampshire Boat Museum which has antique boats on display and offers wooden boat tours on the lake.
Lake Wentworth is also located in Wolfeboro and was named for one of the first “vacationers” here. Lake Wentworth is a very popular alternative to Winnipesaukee for those looking for something a little quieter and less congested.
If you are looking for that great vacation home, waterfront estate, or retirement home Wolfeboro is certainly among the elite choices.
Data compiled using the NEREN MLS system