Martha’s Vineyard Year-Round Paradise or Dystopia?

martha's vineyard year-round

martha's vineyard year-roundDid you ever wonder what it’s like to live on Martha’s Vineyard year-round? For most, Martha’s Vineyard is a summer vacation spot to escape their daily routines. It may be hard to imagine this beautiful island respite as a genuine, all-year place of residence, but plenty of people enjoy the beaches, oceans, lighthouses, shops, restaurants, and historical sights of the island every day.

The Vineyard is home to about 17,000 year round residents, though 63% of homes on the island are host to seasonal residents. If you’ve ever considered what it would be like to take in the beautiful sights of Martha’s Vineyard every day, you’re in the right place to learn more.

Getting to Martha’s Vineyard Year-Round

ferrySince Martha’s Vineyard is an island, the only two ways to go between the mainland and island are by air or by sea. There are several ferry services available to the island; however, most of them require advanced reservations, and few take cars to the island. Daily flights to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport are available to Martha’s Vineyard year-round as well.

One thing to note, when the weather is poor, both services stop operating. Unless there is a severe medical emergency, bad weather will leave you stuck on the island, waiting for the storm to calm.

Housing Crisis on the Island

Finding a consistent place to live on Martha’s Vineyard is the biggest obstacle for most people who want to live on the island. A 2021 estimate placed only 38% of the island’s housing as available for year-round residency. With the rise of services like AirBnB, short term rentals are the norm, leaving those who live on the island with few options.  living on martha’s vineyard year-round

Since 2000, including the COVID-19 pandemic which saw many mainlanders with part time homes moving back, the Island’s year-round population has increased by nearly 40 percent.  Many of the island’s residents who maintain the infrastructure and services that make the island liveable, like fire department or postal workers for example, can hardly find affordable places to live.  Some residents have been priced off the island,  forced to split up their families or leave Martha’s Vineyard entirely.

With the estimated 2022 median home prices over $2 million dollars, buying a house is not an option for most of the people who come to work on the island. The biggest challenge for anyone seeking to live on the island is simply finding a reasonable place to live. While there are some affordable housing developments, those seeking to live full time on the island need to diligently search out potential options.

Martha’s Vineyard Pricing

Due to the island’s location, most items will have higher prices. Everything from heat, electricity, and food will cost a greater amount than it would on the mainland. Most marketable items on the Vineyard have to be transported from the mainland so transportation costs will be factored in.

The island of Martha’s Vineyard is about 100 square miles, with much of inland acreage used for farming.  You can find plenty of local produce sold at farmers markets or farm stands in season, and often right on the shelves of the local markets. This may or may not always be the cheapest option but guaranteed to keep more money circulating within the island community and foster future sustainability of local farms.

The Island in the Off-Season

living on martha’s vineyard year-roundYou’ve probably heard that many of the shops and restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard close in the off season, and you may be worried that the seasonal closures leave little to do on the island. While visions of tumbleweeds blowing through the empty island streets may have crossed your mind, there’s plenty of things to do for year-round residents.

Many of the charming restaurants and stores remain open on Martha’s Vineyard year-round. Islanders know thee importance of supporting these businesses frequently to assure that they will remain open  on Martha’s Vineyard year-round

martha's vineyard year-roundThe island’s museums offer a great way to spend an afternoon learning about the island you live on. Or enjoy the historic sites and lighthouses without the crowds and bustle of summer.

Walking along the beaches and hiking trails can be a wonderful time, even in winter.  Or perhaps getting to walk an alpaca along the Vineyard’s beaches is more your style. Island Alpaca Company remains open all year, though they have more limited hours in winter.

Hitting the trails and farms on Martha’s Vineyard is always a great way to spend your time as a resident.You can join the guided winter walks at the Land Bank Commission.

Taking in the beauty of such a unique and beautiful place is always spectacular, and even more-so when you’re getting to explore the lands you call home.  Living on Martha’s Vineyard year-round, it’s important to remember that you’re essentially living in a small town.

There’s plenty to do, but the off-season on the island offers a quiet respite rather than the busy, bustling tourist atmosphere that can be found in warmer months. Enjoy the beauty of the island, take in the sights or a movie and appreciate the shops and stores that islanders operate for one another. The weather may get brisk in the off-season, but generally offers fairly level and relaxed conditions.


mv beachesOverall, living on Martha’s Vineyard year-round can be a spectacular experience. While housing is difficult to find, with diligence and persistence you can eventually find your island dream home.

Winters will offer a quiet, relaxing atmosphere, and the busier summer months bring in tourists and visitors to give the island an alive feeling. Few places offer the beauty and history of Martha’s Vineyard, and that’s why so many residents put up with the difficulties that limited housing and tourism can sometimes pose. There’s a reason that this little island south of Cape Cod has been a hot spot for artists, celebrities, and cultural interest.

If you want to move to Martha’s Vineyard, the time is now. Population has steadily risen over the years, and the best time to get started is always today. That’s especially true when moving to one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

For more to do in the quiet winter months, check out our Event Calendar for Martha’s Vineyard.




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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Zoe Morsette

    The weather may get brisk???? Who wrote this? Have you spent a winter on the island? Being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean makes the island bitter cold much of the winter. And you neglected to mention the limited public transportation. Having grown up on the Cape and Island, I would never consider the winters to be mild. The dampness in the cold air goes right to your bones. I love the area, but let’s not sugar coat what can be a very gray and bleak season resulting in a lot of alcoholism and drug abuse.

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