Climate Change And Martha's Vineyard Homeownership

Jen Hawkins O'Hanlon, REALTOR®


Martha's Vineyard offers a unique and appealing lifestyle. However, like many coastal regions around the world, it is not immune to the gradual effects of climate change. In this blog post, we will explore the growing awareness of climate risks on Martha's Vineyard and provide practical guidance for those considering homeownership in our beautiful coastal haven.

Understanding Climate Risks

Martha's Vineyard's natural beauty draws residents and visitors alike, but it's essential to acknowledge the subtle challenges posed by climate change. Rising sea levels, occasional flooding, and the possibility of more frequent extreme weather events are concerns that prospective homebuyers should consider. The good news is that people are increasingly factoring these considerations into their homeownership plans, signaling a growing awareness of climate resilience. Additionally, organizations such as the USGS are taking action and were on the Island in the summer of 2023 investigating how climate change effects and sea-level rise could alter the groundwater of the Island. Details of their in-depth study are here.

The Trustees' Call to Action

Recent insights from The Trustees, a key steward of coastal lands in Massachusetts, highlight the importance of being proactive about climate resilience. Rather than viewing this as an emergency, The Trustees' report encourages coastal property owners, town officials, and stakeholders to take a thoughtful and strategic approach. Their report offers valuable information and recommendations to help communities adapt to changing coastal conditions. Actions like elevating structures and investing in ecological preservation and restoration are part of the constructive approach advocated by The Trustees.

Island Communities Taking Responsible Steps

Martha's Vineyard, along with other nearby islands like the Elizabeth Islands (also known as Gosnold), is taking a responsible approach to climate change. Many communities have initiated resilience projects, which include fortifying harbors, restoring beaches, raising roads, and implementing living shorelines to mitigate coastal erosion. This proactive stance is reassuring, demonstrating that communities are taking climate risks into account as they plan for the future.

Balancing the Pros and Cons

For those contemplating homeownership on Martha's Vineyard, it's essential to strike a balance between enjoying coastal living and being mindful of climate risks. Here are some practical tips to help you make informed decisions:

Evaluate Climate Risks: Research your property's vulnerability to climate-related issues, such as flooding. Consult resources like FEMA's website and review the property disclosure for any past damage due to natural events. A professional inspection can also uncover hidden problems like cracks and mold.

Consider Preventative Measures: Speak with your Martha's Vineyard Real Estate agent to find out what you may expect as far as possible flooding in specific areas of the Island. You may be surprised by some areas by the water that may not be at risk. If you will be a seasonal resident, be sure to have a caretaker who will be checking on your property during any major storms that occur while you're not on the Island.

Insurance Is Key: Adequate insurance coverage is crucial when living in a high-risk climate area. Consult with multiple insurance agents to explore coverage options that suit your needs and budget. Insurance provides essential protection against potential financial losses. 

Expert Guidance Matters: Working with a trusted real estate expert can provide valuable insights and guidance. They can help you connect with the right experts and resources to make informed decisions about your property investment.


Martha's Vineyard offers an extraordinary coastal living experience, and with careful consideration of climate risks, you can enjoy it for years to come. The Trustees' report and the proactive efforts of island communities and other organizations demonstrate that responsible steps are being taken to address climate resilience. By being informed and prepared, you can strike a balance between coastal living and climate-conscious homeownership on Martha's Vineyard. Your dream coastal home awaits, and with the right approach, you can enjoy all the beauty and charm this region has to offer.


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