"I'm bursting people's bubbles on a daily basis," said Colorado real estate broker Bob Costello. Costello, who bills himself as "the 420-friendly realty broker," said many out-of-state residents who call to inquire about property listings are unaware of nuances in state law that limit growing to six plants—no more than half of which can be mature flowering plants—and that permit local governments to limit or ban pot retail.
For example, Douglas County, located between Denver and Colorado Springs, was the first county to ban marijuana operations back in 2012. "It's very much middle-class suburbia," said Costello, and that makes it attractive to many would-be residents. "But if you're going to have the lifestyle, Douglas County is not the place for you."
Consumers may also find exclusions of certain kinds of properties. Communities with homeowners associations might prohibit growing, and condo and co-op boards generally frown on any kind of smoke that seeps through ducts into neighboring properties, he said. Would-be tenants may also find that landlords prohibit smoking (pot or otherwise) on property.
(Read more: U.S. to approve banking service for weed businesses)
Then, of course, there are the usual moving considerations. Families aren't likely to be looking solely for proximity to dispensaries, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia.com. "Often, for lots of people in a home search, school districts and low crime are both important," he said. Commute time to work, proximity to family and friends and overall affordability also matter.
That last attribute can be particularly tricky. Many marijuana refugees are already dealing with expensive medical conditions and need help from fund-raisers and sponsors to make the move. In some cases, the move splits families, with some members staying behind to hold down jobs, Figi said. "It's a tough decision to make," she said.
It doesn't help that many of the states where marijuana use is allowed are also those that have higher costs of living. According to CNBC's America's Top States for Business 2013, none of the 10 states with the lowest cost of living has legalized marijuana. Of the 10 with the highest, nine have medical marijuana laws—Hawaii, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont—and the only holdout, New York, is taking steps to follow suit. Washington and Colorado aren't cheap, either. In the rankings, just 14 states had a higher cost of living than Washington; 18 were pricier than Colorado.
(See chart below for median home prices in top U.S. metropolitan areas where medical or recreational marijuana use is legal.)