Living on Martha’s Vineyard – Pros and Cons

living on martha's vineyard

living on martha's vineyardLiving on Martha’s Vineyard has it’s pros and cons.  Approximately, 17,000 people call Martha’s Vineyard home year-round, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. During the height of the summer season, the population swells to over 200,000 tourists.

Many are surprised to learn that around 63% of all homes in Martha’s Vineyard are strictly seasonal. When the tourists leave, the houses stand empty for months which gives many a feeling that the area is a ghost town.  However, nothing could be further from the truth. For those who call Martha’s Vineyard home year-round, they thrive in the solitude after the vacationers return home and the island again takes on a small-town community feel.

Some people might feel trapped because Martha’s Vineyard is an island that sits approximately 7 miles from Cape Cod. There are no bridges or tunnels to the mainland. The only way to reach the island is via boat or plane. Many people are drawn to the isolation and serenity this offers.

The island of Martha’s Vineyard is made up of six towns: Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah. There is also the fishing village of Menemsha.

Living on Martha’s Vineyard Pros

living on martha's vineyard prosLet’s explore the pros of living in Martha’s Vineyard. Below is a list of what many consider pros when living on Martha’s Vineyard, but as with most things, it’s all about perspective. The very pros that some residents love, end up on the cons list of others.

Things to do in the Off-season

It is a misnomer that when the tourists go home the activities on Martha’s Vineyard dry up. In fact, the spring and fall are perfect for outdoor activities because the weather is very temperate. Residents regularly fish, hike, golf, cycle, bird watch, and kayak. During the off-season, the island is also home to an abundance of festivals that the locals flock to. Living on Martha’s Vineyard year-round allows residents to enjoy the natural beauty in the off-season with out the crowds of people.

Seasonal Closures

Seasonal closures do occur on the island, but there are also ample things to do for residents no matter what the season. You’ll find lots of restaurants and stores that remain open year-round. The island’s museums also remain open, and you won’t have to contend with the tourists when enjoying the sites. Also, the beaches are no longer filled with people so you can take a leisurely stroll without having to deal with the crowds.

Shopping on Martha’s Vineyard

living on martha's vineyardIf you are a mall or chain store enthusiast, then you’ll be sadly disappointed with Martha’s Vineyard because such retailers simply do not exist on the island. Instead, Martha’s Vineyard is home to wonderful boutiques, antique stores, and exclusive shops that sell many handcrafts.

An Art Lover’s Mecca

Art collectors immediately fall in love with Martha’s Vineyard because of the many art galleries that display both contemporary and traditional art. There are also jewelry artisans, hand-blown glass, sculptures, and metal-works. On display are local articles and many that are nationally recognized.

Peace and Quiet

mv9Those seeking peace and quiet will fall in love with life on Martha’s Vineyard. During the summer months, things can get crowded but once the tourists retreat to the mainland, the residents start to emerge to enjoy everything that the island has to offer such as the white sandy beaches, woodland groves, and wetlands.

For many, the peace and quiet of Martha’s Vineyard in the winter months is a pro but for others, it’s a con. If you like lots of hustle and bustle, then you’ll be disappointed with the laid-back lifestyle that grips the island during the winter months. Many view it as bleak but others find it to be a retreat. In many ways, it’s the glass half full or half empty scenario and all in the way you view things. If you like living in a small town then you’ll find living on Martha’s Vineyard ideal but if you are a big city type of person, then you might start to feel bored.

Martha’s Vineyard’s Biggest Con – Housing Shortage

Without a doubt, the biggest con about living in Martha’s Vineyard is that housing is hard to find and awfully expensive. The median home price on Martha’s Vineyard hovers at around $1 million and up. While many homes are seasonal, even some year-round home have been converted to seasonal-only rentals, shrinking the available year-round rental market even further.

Cost of Living?

The cost of living on Martha’s Vineyard, like any island can be a drawback as not only are the housing costs high, but the cost of goods are expensive as most of the commodities have to be shipped onto the island. Many residents do their shopping off the island and transport their own groceries back, or patronize the local farms on the island.

The Ferries Can Shut Down

living on martha's vineyardThe ferries are the lifeline of Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry service provides mail, food, and other goods. During the off-season, the ferries run from 6 am to 8:30 pm but if the winds get bad then the ferries shut completely down, and Martha’s Vineyard becomes very isolated. When the ferries shut down there is no getting off the island if you do not own a plane or boat.


If you are thinking about living on Martha’s Vineyard, then you should visit the island during the off-season to see if the solitude and peace are appealing after the tourists go home. As with any place, there are pros and cons that you’ll need to consider if you are thinking about buying a house in Martha’s Vineyard and relocating to the island year-round.




Please feel free to share your favorite Cape Cod experience about this topic with our audience!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mark Alexander

    If your kids are in sports, there won’t be a lot of peace and silence. There isn’t a single traffic light on the Vineyard so during the off season you won’t find many lines. The best restaurants are open off season, but you don’t have to worry about making a reservation. There’s lobster year round but often half the price of summer. We don’t have a McDonalds, but we have our own brewery that’s open year round. (But Friday afternoons are busy with friends and off season visitors.) The state forest takes up about a third of all the land, but wear orange if you like to walk there during hunting season.

    1. Heidi Blake

      Great insights!Thanks for sharing your reflections on year-round living on the Vineyard.

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