2021’s Best Cities to Own a Vacation Home

row of contemporary houses overlooking lake at sunset

Vacation rentals have been white hot during the pandemic. Seen as cleaner than hotels and better for long-term stays while working remotely, these short-term accommodations have been thriving during our time of isolation.

Because of this popularity, vacation rentals can command some serious cash. The average owner of a second home pulls in over $33,000 a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

But when it comes to vacation rentals, location is everything. So, where can you find the most bang for your buck? 

LawnStarter’s ranking of the Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental compares over 300 cities across 10 key metrics — from the median listing price per square foot to the rental vacancy rate to the prevalence of property crime. 

Scroll down to find out which markets to invest your money in now, followed by key takeaways and advice from a panel of industry experts.

And when your new rental home needs landscaping, come back to LawnStarter. It’s kind of what we do.

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Methodology
  4. Why This Study Matters

City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreCompetition and Cost RankROI Potential RankAttractions RankSafety Rank
1Shelbyville, KY68.88702329611
2Brooksville, FL68.211842230208
3Buffalo, NY67.71691555119
4Kissimmee, FL66.941136134116
5Bardstown, KY66.731233023910
6Sevierville, TN66.43123299154
7Holland, MI66.122291015228
8Branson, MO65.5863458209
9Cleveland, OH65.3170644231
10Fayetteville, AR65.11215219267
11Hot Springs, AR65.085618139214
12Pagosa Springs, CO65312017493
13Las Vegas, NV64.8848133848
14Harrisburg, PA64.681857151189
15San Marcos, TX64.636437263113
16Jamestown, NY64.612723270110
17Gulfport, MS64.576522234186
18Knoxville, TN64.51394938140
19Bowling Green, KY64.391012217772
20Gunnison, CO64.29117021885
21New Port Richey, FL64.261459263211
22Covington, KY64.11954125697
23Morgantown, WV63.621318625643
24Tampa, FL63.21541664227
25Tucson, AZ63.2758617122
26Duluth, MN63.111994510832
27Laramie, WY63.13121420518
28Green Bay, WI63.012322716942
29Slidell, LA62.916826241138
30Logan, UT62.89521122476
31Bar Harbor, ME62.861021751724
32New York, NY62.8482296194
33Dade City, FL62.8214721276190
34Stuart, FL62.721425219171
35Atlantic City, NJ62.652544148212
36Newport, KY62.497210227966
37Alamosa, CO62.498128279153
38Grand Rapids, MI62.451675412560
39Lexington, KY62.39961318241
40St. George, UT62.2812810014439
41Bradenton, FL62.2613139160163
42Fort Wayne, IN62.21536413962
43Louisville, KY62.15149664688
44Columbus, OH62.08160586484
45Fredericksburg, TX62.0321596873
46Tempe, AZ62.029193184117
47Virginia Beach, VA61.95163958234
48Orlando, FL61.651416911218
49Biloxi, MS61.612178144215
50Paducah, KY61.477862188171
51South Lake Tahoe, CA61.4419123152174
52Sheridan, WY61.319221624120
53Phoenix, AZ61.275114832145
54Charleston, SC61.215014033155
55Estes Park, CO60.965822915840
56Saratoga Springs, NY60.952185719646
57Springfield, MO60.941653107244
58Flagstaff, AZ60.8533204104106
59El Paso, TX60.62260359424
60Lansing, MI60.5924820108150
61Traverse City, MI60.562308910419
62Boston, MA60.53892681445
63Colorado Springs, CO60.53881846189
64Fort Collins, CO60.47452359273
65Miami, FL60.452620316199
66San Angelo, TX60.412195519668
67Cape Girardeau, MO60.3971111186159
68Eureka Springs, AR60.3618156142133
69Richmond, VA60.233417748179
70Raleigh, NC60.22841945796
71Cortez, CO60.2252108256177
72Cincinnati, OH60.211087147207
73Norman, OK60.1912513521186
74Portland, ME60.181801325864
75Niagara Falls, NY60.162825148143
76Madera, CA60.1428191279157
77Nashville, TN60.08878127224
78New Orleans, LA60.086010915228
79Clearwater, FL60.05132125128100
80Newport, RI60.051341749256
81San Antonio, TX59.932334725131
82Boise, ID59.91262337531
83Iowa City, IA59.8519218321817
84Fargo, ND59.839322316758
85Barnstable, MA59.772381261152
86GIlbert, AZ59.7318716526323
87Chicago, IL59.731641963172
88Syracuse, NY59.7324928138105
89Charlotte, NC59.610613739167
90Paso Robles, CA59.5213315337127
91Jacksonville, FL59.511149849200
92Dover, DE59.527138202223
93Shreveport, LA59.496197121222
94St. Robert, MO59.481826430199
95Kalamazoo, MI59.4520129205219
96Waynesville, MO59.448327229222
97Grand Island, NE59.422215927990
98Key West, FL59.371691715570
99Cheyenne, WY59.2115021516949
100Birmingham, AL59.21201190299
101Montrose, CO59.2122149239123
102Providence, RI59.1813814380129
103Glenwood Springs, CO59.1266224236108
104Ann Arbor, MI59.118221310430
105Eugene, OR59.051032409961
106Dallas, TX59.031778030192
107Milwaukee, WI59.022314350181
108Lewiston, ID59.012102102766
109Salem, OR58.951761876475
110Sarasota, FL58.8512716263141
111Tulsa, OK58.851127971226
112Burlington, VT58.8415618114883
113Scottsdale, AZ58.841732286944
114Memphis, TN58.831551464257
115Loveland, CO58.7810523415879
116Sandy Springs, GA58.689128025635
117Grand Junction, CO58.6340202169194
118Annapolis, MD58.63121168112136
119Topeka, KS58.6122238152202
120Breckenridge, CO58.58148158125121
121Champaign, IL58.582237597111
122Lafayette, LA58.5767201202166
123Grand Forks, ND58.577329524729
124Hartford, CT58.5598151139178
125St. Petersburg, FL58.5416112977151
126Laredo, TX58.482617424113
127Asheville, NC58.345916742225
128Marina, CA58.3329261306144
129Fort Myers, FL58.2411916378169
130San Diego, CA58.221002629156
131Newark, NJ58.211623021892
132Baton Rouge, LA58.1632113120243
133Reno, NV58.082225172206
134Taos, NM58.0714421970107
135Missoula, MT58.0390245115120
136Wilmington, DE58.0236118108242
137Oklahoma City, OK58.0117410468188
138Denver, CO57.996224728180
139Olympia, WA57.9876239160137
140Casper, WY57.9617521221877
141Houston, TX57.871668318233
142Portland, OR57.851462709109
143Lincoln, NE57.7922714611765
144Spokane, WA57.7715216486162
145Austin, TX57.7719318819148
146Rapid City, SD57.7722691160125
147Oxnard, CA57.74109173251173
148Madison, WI57.722131579478
149Seattle, WA57.681202996104
150San Luis Obispo, CA57.6125260117195
151Minneapolis, MN57.5913621735165
152Sioux Falls, SD57.4720418013482
153St. Augustine, FL57.4315914151205
154Denton, TX57.3220318222787
155Hannibal, MO57.3113913224263
156Anaheim, CA57.35525864175
157Chattanooga, TN57.291298274239
158New Haven, CT57.28162116134203
159St. Louis, MO57.27436825254
160Pineville, LA57.2315277306198
161Alexandria, VA57.198527497115
162Pocatello, ID57.16200179263101
163Bloomington, MN57.1422819524147
164Los Angeles, CA57.12442854236
165Albuquerque, NM57.117819234168
166Fairbanks, AK57.064187131250
167Wichita, KS57.0418685113220
168Arlington, TX57.0124363179152
169Owensboro, KY56.99141225196135
170Townsend, TN56.9924415527036
171Fort Worth, TX56.982567062124
172Palm Springs, CA56.971989078217
173Vero Beach, FL56.9221618914481
174Durango, CO56.8380242134182
175Rockford, IL56.827524211149
176Bismarck, ND56.7520624819638
177Detroit, MI56.71311154247
178Beaumont, TX56.6720751218232
179Portsmouth, NH56.4621224112451
180Des Moines, IA56.4225565117142
181Omaha, NE56.342469480139
182Montgomery, AL56.253046128265
183Plano, TX56.1723720021163
184Jersey City, NJ56.15165252211103
185Baltimore, MD56.051837628245
186San Francisco, CA56.022083112126
187Monterey, CA56.024728394193
188Albany, NY55.93236124142146
189Ventura, CA55.91111238144196
190Costa Mesa, CA55.938294230187
191Cedar Rapids, IA55.8326211017957
192Bossier City, LA55.646249256229
193Gillette, WY55.592352872947
194Fort Lauderdale, FL55.4915817872227
195Aurora, IL55.382738823637
196Telluride, CO55.192719319650
197Salt Lake City, UT55.15725558237
198Savannah, GA55.08372545315
199Jackson, MS54.9413717121308
200Pontiac, IL54.9326620527014
201Washington, DC54.91812895240
202Bloomington, IN54.897117166265
203Surfside, FL54.6320526331295
204Stockton, CA54.549250227241
205Indianapolis, IN54.49995052265
206Santa Barbara, CA54.4811530139191
207Augusta, GA54.4112431160275
208Monroe, LA54.394265287252
209Pittsburgh, PA54.381014241287
210Burbank, CA54.3277302211204
211Buena Park, CA54.26135281301176
212Santa Cruz, CA54.2513028299197
213Sonoma, CA54.2523423682130
214Little Rock, AR54.2514012187249
215Sturgeon Bay, WI54.23305192111
216Huntington Beach, CA54.21171279205158
217Kansas City, MO54.2115124353230
218Camarillo, CA54.15202276247114
219Philadelphia, PA53.89107697287
220Cocoa Beach, FL53.87240185270170
221Florence, AL53.742499247275
222Punta Gorda, FL53.7325024418480
223Alexandria, LA53.6617256294253
224Mammoth Lakes, CA53.6124577179235
225Honolulu, HI53.5811029820234
226Pasadena, CA53.2997306130221
227Evanston, IL53.1325325719674
228Kansas City, KS52.9822012192299
229Rock Springs, WY52.925928826321
230Naples, FL52.822423097554
231Dana Point, CA52.37241267205128
232Green River, WY52.3726428630516
233Independence, MO52.3519133179287
234Galena, IL51.823101620415
235Redondo Beach, CA51.68196300251201
236Utica, NY51.49265197287161
237Atlanta, GA51.496819922275
238Huntsville, AL51.2342190125275
239Rochester, NY51.23308821160
240Oakland, CA51.168630791246
241Oakhurst, CA51.0811360287299
242Moab, UT50.99288105108112
243Myrtle Beach, SC50.9319413099259
244Lexington, MA50.8426829327933
245Bozeman, MT50.8123237152275
246Santa Fe, NM50.7115716023265
247Charleston, WV50.6974147174287
248Juneau, AK50.41197220115251
249Lake Charles, LA50.0828573230210
250Carthage, MO49.9829215427959
251Gurnee, IL49.8928127530325
252Vernal, UT49.51189119279265
253Cedar City, UT49.4829122117953
254Oak Park, IL49.2727426927098
255Cody, WY49.13179136211275
256Macon, GA48.96117222164274
257Columbus, MS48.7753231287295
258Anchorage, AK48.7521423236256
259Wheeling, WV48.74118246172263
260Cooperstown, NY48.58239114224260
261Rehoboth Beach, DE48.55247308152216
262Poughkeepsie, NY48.4229867164118
263Hershey, PA48.17154156230295
264Billings, MT48.11188226131262
265Sanibel, FL48.0828627831655
266Redding, CA48.0479207177309
267Overland Park, KS47.67195209251265
268Palm Beach, FL47.6528931425112
269West Yellowstone, MT47.623018429291
270Kanab, UT47.630016117426
271Englewood, FL47.5225248247295
272Ocean City, MD47.49276103205248
273Jensen Beach, FL47.41224134263275
274Carson City, NV47.3963227188312
275Rochester, MN47.38225159152265
276Sault Ste. Marie, MI47.353021982418
277Aspen, CO47.02297150103147
278Holbrook, AZ46.94284206306213
279Pinedale, WY46.7190142241309
280Laguna Beach, CA46.64278313121134
281Arlington, VA46.4410429285287
282Weaverville, CA46.3835310303295
283Park City, UT46.38277303131184
284St. Charles, MO46.37217127205299
285Grapevine, TX46.35211172167294
286Fort Payne, AL46.0594273296299
287Muscle Shoals, AL45.93172253310287
288Cape Canaveral, FL45.69209176312299
289Montpelier, VT45.273062082369
290Natchitoches, LA45.1269291270238
291Snowmass Village, CO44.9928731729969
292Gulf Shores, AL44.7625772218312
293Stowe, VT44.763161151865
294South Padre Island, TX44.3280144256255
295Houma, LA43.32295266287183
296Frankenmuth, MI43.263043042512
297Springfield, IL43.1530992113164
298Thermopolis, WY42.74258259299265
299Alton, IL42.35307107234185
300Oak Brook, IL42.06294318296102
301Lahaina, HI41.6314331613317
302Lake George, NY41.429940227265
303Selma, AL40.77279218256275
304Gettysburg, PA40.6129014589275
305North Weeki Wachee, FL40.52251284312299
306Bay City, MI40.24317112192132
307North Conway, NH39.73293101188287
308St. Simons, GA38.43263305192309
309Hyde Park, NY37.86283290276275
310Orange Beach, AL36.94296106263312
311Tuolumne City, CA36.59270315310299
312Old Mystic, CT36.463144431275
313Kilauea, HI35.7426731224317
314Three Rivers, CA34.2230361279316
315Peach Springs, AZ31.56315139312275
316Wright, WY31313254316260
317Kohler, WI27.83318297306258
318Bass Lake, CA27.55312271316299
Infographic showing best cities to own a vacation home through various metrics such as lowest and highest median listing price, highest annual and daily rental income, and most and least area attractions
 

Highlights and Lowlights

Great Things Come in Smaller Packages

Smaller cities and towns dominate our ranking. Here’s why: Vacation homes are cheaper to buy outside cities, and if they’re strategically placed near good attractions, then the money can really roll. Some examples: Kissimmee, Florida, at No. 4, is next door to tourist magnet Orlando. And when staying in Buffalo, New York, at No. 3, you are just a short drive to Niagara Falls. 

This isn’t to say all large cities lost out: Las Vegas is No. 13 overall, and New York City at No. 32 is the top city for attractions — no surprise there. But the cost of a vacation home in NYC can be skyscraper high.

Appalachian Dream Home

Many of the best vacation rental home cities are near attractions in greater Appalachia. Shelbyville and Bardstown, Kentucky — ranked No. 1 and No. 5, respectively — are just outside of Louisville and surrounded by the bourbon industry, a large tourist draw. 

No. 6, Sevierville, Tennessee, is just down the road from Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains, America’s most visited national park. Buy a rental home in Appalachia, and you’ll be singing Dolly’s “Come Away With Me” before you know it.

If you prefer the Ozarks to Appalachia, the popular tourist town of Branson, Missouri, also cracks the top 10. And among Branson’s many attractions: Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Theater.

Stick to the Suburbs

Most of America’s largest cities performed poorly overall as vacation home hot spots, despite consistently ranking high in the attractions category. There’s a strong correlation between plenty of things to do and very low performance in vacation home ROI (return on investment).

San Francisco, for example, is No. 2 for attractions but 309 on annual rental income and 275 on daily rental income. Washington, D.C., is similar, coming in at No. 5 on attractions but 284 on annual rental income and 263 on daily rental income. 

The sights are there, but big cities are expensive. And while guests like visiting cities, they don’t want to live right in the middle of one. Outlying suburbs and towns offer more for vacation home buyers and renters alike.

Ask The Experts

With travel plans and safety protocols still in flux, it can be a tricky time to get into the vacation rental business. We asked a panel of experts for their guidance through these turbulent times. See what they had to say below.

  • What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term?
  • In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition?
  • What are your top three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?
  • In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard?
Gene Brothers
Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Joseph S. Chen, Ph.D., CHA
Professor, Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management, Department of Health and Wellness Design, School of Public Health
Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, College of Education and Human Development
Andrew Holdnak, Ph.D , CHE
Associate Professor, Global Hospitality and Tourism Management
Jukka Laitamaki
Clinical Professor
Gene Brothers
Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
North Carolina State University

What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term?

Destinations are becoming aware that more accommodation and thus more visitors are not necessarily a good thing. Destinations, which didn’t figure this out until it was too late, are regretting their development decisions (Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach to name three). So, My prediction is that destinations will steadily grow but with limits set and moratoriums on new construction (Outer Banks, NC, and Boulder, CO). The growth of new properties will be in new destinations, but also in VRBO, and Airbnb to take advantage of existing opportunities in the destination without creating new accommodations.

In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition?

Destination marketing gets the eyeballs to a website for booking, but visitors are looking for both value and convenience to make their choice. People-First Provisions fills one of the convenience gaps. Vacation renters don’t want to spend their afternoons stocking the frig with fresh necessities from the crowded Walmart. They also want to be responsible and purchase local produce, which is farm fresh. Other such conveniences coupled with the booking could tip the balance.

What are your top three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?

Location, location, location. First, the investment needs to fit a personal lifestyle rather than cash flow. So, pick a location that is attractive for the investor (activities, landscape, close to family). A location that isn’t saturated with VR. Values will appreciate, but where demand is high in saturated locations older properties will be replaced with newer and higher-priced development. Eventually, investments will become replaced at a depreciated value.

Finally, the location should have the destination stewardship mentality. A destination should be a wonderful place to live with a sustainable plan to manage the vacation economy. If more than  1/3 of the economy is dependent upon tourism, the residents become resentful.

In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard?

Between occupancies, have the management company shoot and send a YouTube video of the cleaning process to the next occupant (date and time stamp it). Leave products in the property so that the occupants can also clean and sanitize when they return from an outing.  

Joseph S. Chen, Ph.D., CHA
Professor, Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management, Department of Health and Wellness Design, School of Public Health
Indiana University

What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term?

The economic recovery may be faltering in the next year or so due to the pandemic. So for the short-term, the vacation rental market may not look good. Certainly, for the long-term it will grow slowly or exponentially, depending on the speed of the recovery.

In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard?

The host may provide a stamp of approval from the local authority, or a certification from a reputable agency, endorsing the quality of cleanliness.  

Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, College of Education and Human Development
George Mason University

What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term? 

The trajectory for vacation rental demand is upward, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Tourism is predicted to rebound in 2021 and 2022 and travelers will still be interested in lodging environments that have less frequent turnover, as is generally the case with vacation rentals.  

In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition? 

Three strategies that vacation rental owners should adopt to stand out include staging, competitive pricing, and service excellence, all of which should have the end goal of getting outstanding reviews of the property.

When creating a listing profile for potential renters, owners should stage the property as if they were going to sell it.  The images should convey that the property is immaculate, homey, and move-in ready. Modest investments in décor such as modern comforters with pintuck pleats or jacquard stripes will photograph beautifully and give an upscale appearance. Fresh paint in a soothing tone is a must and one or two large pieces of art, such as wrapped canvases of photographed local sites, will offer focal points.  Ditch the knickknacks and strive for an open, fresh appearance.  

Second, price the rental competitively. Look at similar properties, compare the amenities, and list slightly under those that have more reviews. Be fully transparent as to what is and is not included in the rental cost. If amenities such as linen service and parking are included, be certain to detail these benefits. If there are restrictions, such as a single parking pass included with the rental, make sure that any restrictions or extra fees are clearly stated. Renters do not want to be surprised by hidden charges at the last minute. 

Third, ensure that you can provide service excellence. In almost all cases, it will make sense to outsource cleaning, linen service, maintenance, and pest management. Renters should have ready access to a number to call in case of emergency, whether small or large. If they walk into the property and the refrigerator is full of the previous renter’s food, half of the lightbulbs are out, there is no toilet paper, or ants are crawling all over the countertops, the tone of their stay will be negatively impacted from the onset and it will be difficult to recover.   

What are your top four tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?

First, select a destination you personally love and are committed to visiting on a regular basis. Even with a property management company on board, the owner’s personal touch is essential to ensure the upkeep of the property.

Second, choose a destination that has four-season appeal; otherwise, the income potential will be minimized.

Third, select the best neighborhood you can afford. Safety and security are paramount to many renters, especially those with young children.

Finally, factor recurring costs into the purchase decision and rental rate. If you opt to invest in a property with massive, vaulted ceilings, the HVAC costs associated with this aesthetic may devour your profits.   

In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard? 

Look to the hospitality experts and follow their lead. Hilton’s “CleanStay” program can serve as a model for vacation rental owners. While rental owners are not likely to follow a protocol that is quite as rigorous as the “CleanStay” approach, hosts should be forthcoming and transparent regarding the efforts that are being made. Renters should not have to scour a listing or call the owner to determine what sanitation steps are being taken.

Finally, a critical step that is so often overlooked is accessing the property. This misstep is particularly egregious in saturated rental areas that rely on property management companies for check-in procedures. Again, following the processes adopted by many of the leading hospitality providers, check-in should involve no lines and no human interaction. 

Andrew Holdnak, Ph.D , CHE
Associate Professor, Global Hospitality and Tourism Management
University of West Florida – Fort Walton Beach Campus

What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term?

As we come out of the pandemic situation, I think it will be strong. Right now, travel is constrained. Once it is relaxed, folks will want to travel again. There are some challenges for the Airbnb-type operations, depending upon location. In Florida, the legislature is deciding whether local communities can or should control rentals in their communities

In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition?

Good social media is probably the key. An important part would be first impressions – attractive pictures and videos. In real estate, they talk about curb appeal. Maybe it is video appeal.

What are your top three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?

Be realistic about expectations. It takes some effort to do well.

Who is going to take care of your property? Quality & trustworthiness. Knowledgeable about the market.

If you are going to do it yourself, be cautious about who you rent to. Provide quality and expect quality.

In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard?

In my area, there are a number of property management and cleaning services that especially promote Covid cleaning as part of their services. I would go with a reputable service.

Jukka Laitamaki
Clinical Professor
New York University School of Professional Studies

What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about the long-term?

Both in the short-term and long-term the outlook is positive for vacation rentals.

In the short-term, the COVID-19 Pandemic first resulted in a decrease in demand when people were advised to shelter-in-place and strict travel restrictions took effect. Starting in May vacation rentals especially near urban centers and outdoor activities bounced back.

Long-term rental demand has increased due to more people being able to work from home and because people wanted an alternative for their small urban apartments (work-from-vacation-rental). Short-term rental demand has also increased because people look for safe outdoor activities within driving distance where they can socially distance themselves with family and friends(staycations).

These trends are going to stay in the short term due to travel restrictions and expected slow recovery of long-distance and international travel. These trends will also have some long-term implications. Many employers are not expecting their employees to be back in the office full-time and consumers have become worried about the safety of travel in airplanes and staying in large hotels before the pandemic is totally over. 

In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition?

The six most important criteria for selecting a vacation rental are cost, good past experience, good online reviews, amenities provided, unique design or theme, and distance to local attractions and activities.

What are your top three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?

  1. Do your homework (have the property professionally inspected, analyze the market demand, local and state regulations, select the best distribution channels)
  2. Set competitive rates based on price/value and seasonality, and calculate your expected revenue and expenses based on rates.
  3. Invest in affordable luxury, authentic high-quality amenities, and trustworthy cleaning services.

In the middle of a pandemic, cleanliness is next to godliness. How can hosts satisfy their guests and ensure their vacation rentals are cleaned to a high standard?

The owner should adapt the Airbnb Five-Step Enhanced Cleaning Standard Process (Prepare, Clean Sanitize, Check, Reset) and use trustworthy cleaning product brands

Methodology

We ranked 318 U.S. cities in descending order — from best to worst — based on their individual score totals in the metrics list below. The city that scored the highest ranked No. 1, or “best.”

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. Value
Size of the Rental Market24.08%77.74%
Rental Vacancy Rate20100
Median Annual Property Taxes20.13%3.55%
Median Listing Price per Sq. Ft.244.121678.02
"Competition and Cost" Category Total8
Annual Rental Income (Capitalization Rate)21.49%20.10%
Daily Rental Income20.00%0.21%
"ROI Potential" Category Total4
Total Attractions111290
"Attractions" Category Total1
Violent Crime rate101965.33
Property Crime rate1013012.48
Natural Hazard Index Score1922
"Safety" Category Total3
Overall Total16

Sources: AllTheRooms, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, TripAdvisor, U.S. Census Bureau, and Zillow

Why This Study Matters

Purchasing a vacation home starts with choosing the right location, but it should include planning how you will maintain the house and yard. You want your home away from home to look good for your family and any guests renting your property for the day, week or month.

The best vacation homes have a great lawn, and the grass needs to be mowed, the leaves picked up, and the bushes and trees trimmed. LawnStarter can help with all of that with pro teams who will keep your vacation getaway or vacation rental looking kept up and inviting.

Amenities are another draw with vacation homes. Add a fire pit in cold climates, or maybe a hot tub, pool, and privacy fence in a warmer climate to make your home comfortable and relaxing for all who enter. Update the kitchen and bathroom for your family, of course, and any renters.

The whole point of a vacation home is a home base near enough to popular attractions (or the beach or a lake) so that your family and any renters can get away from it all in comfort and style.

Main Photo Credit: Needpix

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Staff Writer