05/08/2012 10:32 am ET Updated May 10, 2012

Buying A Vacation Home: Post 50s Seek Proximity

Retirees are ditching far-away vacation rentals and exotic retirement getaways and opting to buy closer to home, according to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors.

Once dominated by young families, the vacation home market is greying. The study showed the average age of vacation home buyers was 50, and the average distance of the home from the buyer's permanent residence was 305 miles.

The reason for the proximity? One-third of buyers said they planned to use their vacation home as a primary residence in the future. “People started seeing vacation homes as an option for retirement,” said Jon Gray, vice president of, a web site that matches homeowners with vacation renters. In addition, more people are buying vacation homes ahead of retirement and renting them out for several years before moving in themselves. In a separate finding of the same NAR study, 11 percent of survey respondents said they would buy a vacation home for their eventual retirement.

Besides saving money on airfare, according to Gray, post 50s are seeking vacation homes closer to their network of friends and family, and for ease of access. If you’re thinking of buying a vacation home and renting it out some of the time, it pays to find a location popular with renters. recently released its top 10 vacation locations between Memorial Day and Labor Day, based on a poll of 3,200 travelers conducted between late March and early April. Check out the slideshow below for HomeAway's top vacation locations.