Did 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
Since Martha’s Vineyard is an island, the only two ways to go between the mainland and island are by air or ferry. Most ferry services require advanced reservations, and few take cars to the island. Daily flights are available to the island 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.
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. 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. With the rise of services like AirBnB, short term rentals are the norm, leaving those who live on the island with few options. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to mainlanders with part time homes flooding back in, and staying for the long term. Residents are often priced off the island, being forced to split up their families or leave Martha’s Vineyard entirely.
With median home prices over $1 million dollars, 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. As long as you’re ready to research options, you can eventually find a place!
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. The average price for a gallon of milk in the United States is about $3.31. On the island, a gallon of milk averages at $4.20. The same rates will apply to most products or services.
The Island in the Off-Season
You’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. Plenty of the charming restaurants and stores remain open, and the island’s museums offer a great way to spend an afternoon learning about the island you live on. Walking along the beach can be a wonderful time, even in winter.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, perhaps getting to walk an alpaca along the Vineyard’s beaches is more interesting. 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 also a great way to spend your time as a resident. 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.
As an all-year resident, 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.
Overall, 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 hotspot 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!