2022’s Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental

Woman greeting a couple inside her vacation rental home

Thanks to vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo, anyone can earn extra cash by renting out their spare room, mother-in-law suite, or entire home to tourists.

In the U.S., short-term rental hosts can rake in an average of over $44,000 per year, according to market analysis firm AllTheRooms. But as with all real estate investments, your income potential depends heavily on where you buy your vacation rental property.

To help you find the right spot for your future BnB, LawnStarter ranked 2022’s Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental.

We compared nearly 190 of the biggest U.S. cities based on revenue potential, initial investment costs, and average expenses. We also factored in entertainment options for guests, public safety, and climate.

Check out the top cities to own a vacation rental below, followed by key insights from our data analysts and advice from industry experts.

And when your new rental needs landscaping or lawn care, come back to LawnStarter — it’s kind of what we do.


  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology
  5. Why This Study Matters

City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreRevenue Potential RankInitial Investment RankOverhead RankEntertainment RankSafety RankClimate Rank
1Miami, FL67.18113822714646
2New York, NY66.98415411516856
3New Orleans, LA60.49799391010955
4Cincinnati, OH59.20288514112096
5Las Vegas, NV58.99268170418163
6Dayton, OH58.539291210551102
7Tampa, FL57.57146394241557
8Knoxville, TN57.5649257507868
9Orlando, FL57.29533741814371
10Augusta, GA57.1820161511869119
11Virginia Beach, VA56.24666146431952
12Nashville, TN56.14895811912699
13Hialeah, FL56.125113821789646
14Winston-Salem, NC56.04338037831180
15Eugene, OR56.021012067744845
16Boston, MA55.733159133163769
17Cleveland, OH55.41852884684104
18San Antonio, TX55.351730982160150
19Pittsburgh, PA54.581697593811794
20Indianapolis, IN54.478221333773111
21Mobile, AL54.34792669718362
22Jacksonville, FL54.215533533414567
23Chicago, IL54.2070111129381127
24Los Angeles, CA54.1519166110218612
25Salem, OR54.1036115761045744
26Syracuse, NY53.9932326511241133
27Montgomery, AL53.97106121610762110
28Milwaukee, WI53.974671543955123
29San Bernardino, CA53.9797123416715713
30Fresno, CA53.951110225110179121
31St. Louis, MO53.9084591727148124
32Clarksville, TN53.769519191236199
33Birmingham, AL53.731183137117282
34Columbus, OH53.406056754252109
35Albuquerque, NM53.2325617130109166
36Buffalo, NY53.0912983105927107
37Detroit, MI52.8576892852105118
38Fort Wayne, IN52.83114132710140126
39Macon, GA52.7411753114183116
40Tallahassee, FL52.65104501493135103
41Grand Rapids, MI52.619158387725143
42Lexington, KY52.56807077633883
43Richmond, VA52.545886505114698
44Durham, NC52.462392959013985
45Philadelphia, PA52.3814698231711574
46Rochester, NY52.246662636092120
47Charlotte, NC52.214778130299273
48Dallas, TX52.00343813423124134
49Akron, OH51.98124242411773112
50Tucson, AZ51.881448452271169
51Little Rock, AR51.858666185148115
52Colorado Springs, CO51.834091914046167
53Baton Rouge, LA51.7711369119517884
54St. Petersburg, FL51.6411563803310057
55Greensboro, NC51.569435437515980
56Vancouver, WA51.3698136791052741
57Toledo, OH51.22136552010244149
58Chattanooga, TN51.0910848465814893
59Tacoma, WA51.05301511007814838
60Memphis, TN50.971531405417397
61Des Moines, IA50.865985908773156
62Tempe, AZ50.80481033591102180
63Fayetteville, NC50.7917441311014085
64Columbus, GA50.691649301346491
65Providence, RI50.679012245618690
66Killeen, TX50.67145247174106131
67Oxnard, CA50.591316011415416013
68Sacramento, CA50.556214893488159
69Norfolk, VA50.5316266269910852
70Raleigh, NC50.4975761224411485
71Louisville, KY50.4711057119363392
72Port St. Lucie, FL50.42157361011441243
73Oceanside, CA50.3112162135961378
74Modesto, CA50.29561215616015875
75Kansas City, KS50.231125129132161144
76Honolulu, HI50.1615183150917637
77Springfield, MO50.06189318065125
78Spokane, WA50.0014787326854148
79Phoenix, AZ49.9172103732692180
80Glendale, AZ49.85741033412577180
81San Diego, CA49.776716215461308
82Huntsville, AL49.711581064929789
83Murfreesboro, TN49.67101956911911699
84Oklahoma City, OK49.60119188955125153
85Brownsville, TX49.58169174215517122
86Fort Worth, TX49.51573814547107134
87Atlanta, GA49.4812365148209954
88St. Paul, MN49.489693836935158
89McAllen, TX49.45137610916314150
90Lubbock, TX49.3793238511579170
91Baltimore, MD49.29130100972810295
92Riverside, CA49.2611612310811317113
93Salt Lake City, UT49.21351198245182172
94Boise, ID49.20611341066120160
95Tulsa, OK49.15139147264123155
96Rockford, IL49.091111512313529154
97Kansas City, MO49.05142517449104144
98Cape Coral, FL49.0513247125794272
99Olathe, KS48.94275116417710144
100Seattle, WA48.8039151173115838
101Mesa, AZ48.7987103668645180
102Minneapolis, MN48.7592931203258158
103Denver, CO48.724113012618129175
104Laredo, TX48.69156221021712150
105Austin, TX48.535411816014134131
106El Paso, TX48.481661196753161
107Worcester, MA48.431311176012072113
108Springfield, MA48.291671161815312269
109Denton, TX48.001213811813680134
110Houston, TX47.971557412815154105
111Long Beach, CA47.9529166886618736
112Fort Lauderdale, FL47.87831381472517746
113Irving, TX47.851093812414990134
114Madison, WI47.8588721406769157
115Sioux Falls, SD47.76125271079756173
116Pomona, CA47.69501664918218913
117Newark, NJ47.53134154211513477
118Pasadena, TX47.481437487184138105
119Santa Ana, CA47.44691665515716413
120Amarillo, TX47.43141347810989171
121Hollywood, FL47.37154138588714446
121Wichita, KS47.371718628284165
123Moreno Valley, CA47.341631239918915513
124Rancho Cucamonga, CA47.288112316316711113
125Ontario, CA47.241811235716712813
126Glendale, CA47.072816612113716713
127Portland, OR46.90178136142134941
128Lincoln, NE46.90133491168747174
129McKinney, TX46.49433817512413134
130Chula Vista, CA46.4173162149165918
131Gilbert, AZ46.36211031681374180
132North Las Vegas, NV46.3118481361525163
133Jackson, MS46.21187609129168117
134Anchorage, AK46.14449015935188188
135Arlington, TX45.9915038131116119134
136Stockton, CA45.851651354816314075
137Fort Collins, CO45.75151101847086175
138Salinas, CA45.69135182441711691
139Garden Grove, CA45.627816610418416213
140Palmdale, CA45.477716611218016313
141Alexandria, VA45.4151441818111863
142Corona, CA45.4014012315817314213
143Cary, NC45.386576178129685
144Paterson, NJ45.36128154921866366
145Omaha, NE45.34161201375388162
146Miramar, FL45.221521381361877646
147Fullerton, CA45.212216615315816413
148Fontana, CA44.901831231321876613
149Plano, TX44.25643817611450134
150Corpus Christi, TX44.241856811173101108
151Washington, DC44.211221441671217563
152Anaheim, CA44.191031661276517413
153Midland, TX44.0999731691587168
154Jersey City, NJ43.94631541611283977
155Lakewood, CO43.85105130113147166175
156Grand Prairie, TX43.711763814117867134
157Thornton, CO43.6910713013918153175
158Orange, CA43.363116616613913613
159Bakersfield, CA43.2817979105142184114
160Pembroke Pines, FL43.201771381381559546
161Pasadena, CA43.06421661629918513
162Yonkers, NY42.97127154152170977
163Reno, NV42.931491476856169189
164Scottsdale, AZ42.68371031803143180
165Santa Rosa, CA42.601591611438412713
166Bridgeport, CT42.541821501171762661
167Arlington, VA42.2252144182943063
168Lancaster, CA42.211751665216618013
169Peoria, AZ41.8417010314413921180
170San Francisco, CA41.641021841845351
171Aurora, CO41.521801308612597175
172Oakland, CA41.4889184155721481
173Chandler, AZ41.3316010315710732180
174Aurora, IL41.221681111651488127
175Torrance, CA41.224516617114518013
176Elk Grove, CA41.021481481701832259
177Joliet, IL40.8118611115116122127
178Overland Park, KS40.741725117214324144
179Escondido, CA40.571881621031251308
180Frisco, TX40.20383818513316134
181Bellevue, WA39.96181511861213138
182Hayward, CA39.141381841561741331
183Irvine, CA39.086816617912112113
184Huntington Beach, CA38.8010016617410315313
185Naperville, IL36.181261111891311127
186Santa Clarita, CA35.0517316617714611313
187San Jose, CA34.8271188183561551
188Sunnyvale, CA32.49241881871611301
189Fremont, CA29.881201841881501121

Note: The ranking above assumes that vacation rentals are allowed in at least some capacity, such as short-term accommodations and bed and breakfasts, in each city. Please check with your city and/or state for specific rules.

Infographic showing the Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental, a ranking based on investment costs, expenses, revenue potential, and more

Highlights and Lowlights

Southern Hospitality

The American South isn’t just welcoming toward visitors — it’s also inviting to real estate investors. Six of our Top 10 Cities to Own a Vacation Rental are located in this warm region.

Three of them are among the most popular U.S. tourist destinations: Miami tops our list, eclipsing New York by a mere 0.2 points, while New Orleans (No. 3) and Orlando, Florida (No. 9), fill the other two prime spots. All three cities ranked in the top 10 of our Entertainment category. Miami and New Orleans promise the highest ROI (return on investment), but Orlando requires significantly lower upfront capital.

Tampa, Florida (No. 7), Knoxville, Tennessee (No. 8), and Augusta, Georgia (No. 10), are the other three top finishers from the South. Although they aren’t your typical vacation hotspots, nightly rates are competitive here. Host expenses in Augusta are particularly low, putting more money back in your pocket, but Tampa and Knoxville are relatively safer for tourists.

California in the Red

The Golden State dominates the bottom 10 of our ranking, claiming seven out of the 10 worst spots. Surprisingly, they’re all suburbs, such as San Francisco’s Fremont in last place, Los Angeles’ Huntington Beach at No. 6, and San Diego’s Hayward in eighth.

Skyscraping property price tags and monthly expenses, combined with generally low average revenue, would leave short-term rental hosts with a poor-looking balance sheet. Sunnyvale (second worst overall) is the lone exception in the Revenue Potential category (No. 24). But that and an ideal climate are all this Bay Area outlier has going for it.

Further dragging down California’s fringe cities are the lack of amusement options — except in San Jose (No. 56 in the Entertainment category). Even if guests were to leave their accommodations for a quick jaunt in the neighborhood, though, they won’t feel very secure. All seven cities rank below average in Safety.

If you really want to host a rental in California, stay in Los Angeles (No. 24).

Coastal Cha-Ching

Our data shows a strong correlation between high revenue potential and a coastal — or, in Honolulu’s case, island — location.

Invest in a property within Miami, Boston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, and you’d be almost guaranteed to see money roll in. Many tourists imagine staying in a seaside (or near-water) retreat for their holidays, so it’s no surprise that these cities would haul in the biggest returns from their short-term lets. Miami, for example, ranked first in both average nightly rate and annual revenue.

A few inland exceptions stand out among our top 10 in the Revenue Potential category, though: Country music capital Nashville, Tennessee, needs no explanation, while Cincinnati simply has drawn more tourists over the years. Flyover city Dayton, Ohio, is more of a “fly-into” city — aviation nerds flock here every summer to talk and see planes. Plus, Dayton “Daycations” grew popular during the pandemic.

However, look toward smaller cities if you want to maximize bookings. Occupancy rates are highest in cities like Garland, Texas; Vancouver, Washington; Pembroke Pines, Florida; and Overland Park, Kansas. These suburbs border big cities and they generally charge cheaper rates, so they likely catch all the overflow and budget tourists.

Ask The Experts

Venturing into the vacation rental business can be tricky, especially for novices. To help first-time short-term rental owners navigate the process, we turned to a panel of industry experts for advice. Read their thoughts below.

  1. What’s the outlook of the vacation rental industry for the next 1–3 years? What about long-term?
  2. In a market that’s saturated with vacation rentals, how can an owner make theirs stand out from the competition?
  3. What are your top three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?
Gene Brothers
Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor of Tourism and Events Management
Robert Alex Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Liaison Inter-College Travel & Tourism Initiatives
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 the long term?

Destinations are becoming more aware that more accommodations, and thus more visitors, are not necessarily a good thing. Destinations such as Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Panama City Beach that didn’t figure this out until it was too late are regretting their development decisions.

So, My prediction is that destinations like Outer Banks, NC and Boulder, CO will steadily grow, but with limits set and moratoriums on new construction. The growth of new properties will be in new destinations, but also in VRBO and Airbnb to take advantage of existing opportunities 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. P1p fills one of the convenience gaps.

Vacation renters don’t want to spend their afternoons stocking the fridge 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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Finally, the location should have the destination stewardship mentality, which is that a destination should be a wonderful place to live with a sustainable plan to manage the vacation economy. More than one-third of the economy is dependent upon tourism, and the residents become resentful.

Some cities and states impose strict regulations on short-term rentals. How can hosts ensure they’re following all applicable local and state regulations before advertising their space?

There are two obvious sources of this information. The first is the online marketing platform(s) they intend to use to advertise their property. In recent years, destinations have sued these online platforms for not collecting the required occupancy taxes, and the destinations have won.

These lawsuits have put the marketing and sales platforms on notice that they need to pay attention to local and state regulations. A homeowner can read the conditions for listing a short-term rental, which most likely will include regulations that must be followed.

Second, there is usually someone within the local government who handles the dissemination of local and state regulations and restrictions on short-term rentals. A homeowner who is considering a short-term rental offering should do their research, find this person or government division, and get to know the ins and outs of the regulations. Many of these regulations are in place to protect the homeowner.

What hidden costs, if any, should short-term rental owners watch out for?

There are many costs to a short-term rental that are not hidden but just left out of the cash flow equation. The cost of a rental turnover is a recurring expense that homeowners will incorporate into each rental.

However, an owner must also consider maintenance, repairs, and wear and tear on the property over a longer period. It is good to have a depreciation schedule for all these assets separately –– the property, appliances, furnishings, etc. –– so that the life of the assets can be included in a rental pricing structure. Each rental should be paying the fair share of the costs the property owner must bear.

What are the top three amenities that will attract the most guests?

Beyond providing a clean and safe accommodation experience, a homeowner should consider the following.

  1. The top asset would be a surprisingly amazing view. These are difficult to come by and so are highly valued. A homeowner must be extremely aware, however, of the community and what effects the location of the great view has on the off-property views.

    In North Carolina, the Ridge Law restricts structures to be no higher than the tree line due to the Sugarloaf condominiums in Western NC. Great views can create unsightly intrusions from offsite locations.

  2. The second would be unique and creative activities and experiences available within a reasonable radius of the property. After all, the destination location is a strong reason that motivates visitation. These “attractions” would not include go-cart tracks, hyped tourist gift shopping, etc.; instead, they would be local experiences that are unique to the destination.
  3. Finally, a variety of local food experiences. Are there options to provide vacationers with local farm products? Can visitors schedule farm visits and experience pick-your-own options for produce needed for their stay? Are there award-winning chefs in the destination?
Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor of Tourism and Events Management
George Mason University, College of Education and Human Development, School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management

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

The past year showcased an explosion in the vacation rental demand, with increased pricing to match. The short-term and long-term trajectory remains the same, where demand will exceed supply in hotspot areas during the high season.

With the average daily rate (ADR) for vacation rentals climbing, hotel chains and property management companies have stepped into the mix by expanding their portfolios to include private home vacation rentals.

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

The saturation level varies geographically, seasonally, and psychologically. Motivated travelers will optimize their searches by working a year or more in advance of the travel dates.

The budget-conscious tourist may wait until the last minute to catch a deal but will need to be flexible. Vacation rental owners can stand out through staging, competitive pricing, and service, all of which should have the end goal of getting outstanding reviews of the property.

First, when creating a listing profile for potential guests, 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. Importantly, do not mislead. A sure way to get a poor review is to showcase a beautifully appointed home that has, in actuality, suffered from overuse.

Second, price the rental competitively. When preparing to list, look at similar properties, compare the amenities, and list slightly under those with more reviews. Be transparent about 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 and inconveniences at the last minute.

Third, ensure that you can provide excellent service. In almost all cases, it will make sense to outsource cleaning, linen service, maintenance, and pest management. Guests 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, the air conditioner is a wall unit that doesn’t function, there is no Wi-Fi, 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 three tips for people looking to invest in a vacation rental?

  1. 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.
  2. Second, choose a destination that has a four-season appeal; otherwise, the income potential will be minimized. With this in mind, 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.
  3. Third, select the best neighborhood you can afford. Safety and security are paramount to many renters, especially those with young children. Highlight safety features and the benefits of the selected neighborhood. Showcase both indoor and outdoor views of the property, as well as amenities located within a 10-mile radius.

Some cities and states impose strict regulations on short-term rentals. How can hosts ensure they’re following all applicable local and state regulations before advertising their space?

City and state governments have legitimate concerns regarding the negative impacts of neighborhoods being overrun with illegal short-term rentals.

The character, safety, and long-term appeal of a neighborhood will shift dramatically when confronted with a revolving door of visitors who are not invested in the community on a personal level.

Potential investors in rental properties must do their homework prior to purchase by reviewing dwelling laws, administrative codes, zoning resolutions, and legal consequences.

What hidden costs, if any, should short-term rental owners watch out for?

On the owners’ side, they must be aware of the income tax laws and liability insurance fees associated with renting out property. For renters, beware of the hidden costs of “resort fees,” a general misnomer that can apply to just about anything and is often tagged on at the last minute.

Be certain you are comparing apples to apples when conducting your search, as some companies estimate the total cost in their initial listing, and others wait until your booking process is almost finalized, when all of a sudden, the cost doubles.

What are the top three amenities that will attract the most guests?

Location, location, location.

With all things being equal, potential guests will compare properties within the same general vicinity. They will then move on to the layout of the property, with the number of bedrooms being a priority, as well as the presence or absence of key features, such as air conditioning.

Air conditioning has emerged as an important consideration as global warming has resulted in unbearably warm settings in destinations that are generally not reliant on this amenity, with owners who have not made the investment receiving critical online feedback.

Robert Alex Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Liaison Inter-College Travel & Tourism Initiatives
University of New Hampshire, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment

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

I am of the opinion that the vacation rental industry will face some significant challenges in the next 1-3 years, as the demand is exceeding the supply.

People that used to rent their houses are now selling them and moving into smaller homes that they don’t plan to rent. The problem is exacerbated by the supply chain issues and increased costs of housing, so there are fewer houses and rentals available.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I expect that long term, the housing market and supply chain issues will correct themselves, thus enabling more houses on the market available to rent.

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

Price and flexibility. Attention to detail. Owners can make their vacation rentals stand out by ensuring the rental is very clean and attractively furnished and providing several pictures to demonstrate that. In addition, aptly describing the property and all the amenities offered is key.

Vacationers want all of their needs taken care of and a home that is “well stocked.” Of course, waterfront property, a pool, or a hot tub would definitely make one’s property stand out amongst others that don’t offer that.

The rental home should be a reflection of its natural surroundings. If you are making a beach house, then the house should have the feel of a beach house. If it is located in a remote wooded setting, it should have rustic décor. If you are near a theme park, have at least one room that is devoted to that theme.

In general, your home should cater to the people that will rent it most frequently. Repeat business is the name of the game. You also want the home to feel comfortable; it is a good idea to create a house amenities checklist to make sure you’ve stocked up on everything a renter could need during their stay.

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

  1. Location, Location, Location – you can’t go wrong with ocean or lakefront views, and a short drive to restaurants, bars, and stores is a plus. People like to walk, and having a safe and scenic place to walk is becoming a necessity.
  2. Property attraction inside and out, e.g., nicely landscaped, room for vacationers to play yard games, or proximity to open space, such as the beach, recreation trails, parks, etc., clean, well maintained, nicely painted, open floor concept, number of bathrooms commensurate with the number of bedrooms.
  3. Low maintenance property – After all, it’s a vacation home for the owners too, so when you’re there, you don’t want to have to be “fixing the house.”

Some cities and states impose strict regulations on short-term rentals. How can hosts ensure they’re following all applicable local and state regulations before advertising their space?

Talk to the planning board, chat with a local property management firm (as a tentative customer), and consult your local town website for information on the rules that govern short-term rentals. Typically, closing documents will also stipulate the “dos and don’ts” of rental regulations.

What hidden costs, if any, should short-term rental owners watch out for?

They aren’t really “hidden” costs, but there are variable costs. Specifically, the cost of energy is increasing at record rates, so rental owners need to be aware that guests may not be as considerate or “energy conscious” while renting, so the utilities are absolutely something they should watch out for.

What are the top three amenities that will attract the most guests?

  1. Water views
  2. Walking distance to shops, restaurants, live music, etc.
  3. Space, i.e., deck with nice outdoor furniture, a fireplace and/or hot tub


For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into six categories: Revenue Potential, Initial Investment, Overhead, Entertainment, Safety, and Climate. 

We eliminated all cities — 11 total — lacking critical data, which resulted in a final sample of 189 cities.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each remaining city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each metro across all categories. 

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 189).

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Revenue Potential
Occupancy Rate in Past 12 Months36%97%Max. Value
Average Daily Short-Term Rental Rate in Past 12 Months*3$34$427Max. Value
Revenue in Past 12 Months3$3,324$69,256Max. Value
Initial Investment
Median Listing Price per Square Foot4$100$871Min. Value
1-Year Change in Median Listing Price per Square Foot1-1.2%33.5%Max. Value
Median Annual Property Taxes20.29%3.30%Min. Value
Average Per-Household Spending on Housekeeping Services2$77.15$450.58Min. Value
Average Per-Household Spending on Lawn and Garden Services2$213.11$888.97Min. Value
Average Per-Household Spending on Home Improvements1$1,507.86$7,298.28Min. Value
Average Per-Household Spending on Utilities, Fuel, and Public Services2$2,799.17$8,977.34Min. Value
Number of Attractions5135,618Max. Value
Crime Index1086Max. Value
Natural Hazards Index1920Min. Value
Historical Average Annual Number of Extremely Hot Days22169Min. Value
Historical Average Annual Number of Extremely Cold Days20192Min. Value

*Because of various local and state regulations restricting the amount of space and/or time that a property can be operated as a vacation rental, we used a one-bedroom, one-bathroom space for two guests as our base case for average daily rate data.

Sources: AllTheRooms, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, NeighborhoodScout, TripAdvisor, and U.S. Census Bureau

Why This Study Matters

Purchasing a vacation property to rent to tourists starts with choosing the right location, but amenities are another draw with short-term lodging. Add a fire pit in cold climates or maybe a hot tub, pool, and privacy fence around the yard in a warmer climate to make your home comfortable and relaxing for all who enter.

The more value you can add to your space, the more your guests will appreciate their stay — the extra cash you’ll earn doesn’t hurt, either.

The whole point of a vacation rental is to offer a relaxing space near enough to popular attractions (or the beach or a lake) so that your guests can get away from it all in comfort and style.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Staff Writer