2021’s Best Cities To Own a Vacation Rental
Over half of Americans plan to travel in 2021, and more than a third will stay in a vacation home or homeshare rental during the winter and spring.
That presents a big opportunity for anyone dreaming of owning a vacation rental. During the pandemic, these short-term accommodations have been the saving grace for Americans itching to get away — safely.
But not every city is fertile ground for investors. So which ones are best?
LawnStarter’s report on the Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental compares the rental markets in over 300 U.S. cities across 10 key factors — from the median listing price per square foot to the rental vacancy rate to the prevalence of property crime.
Check out the winners (and losers), followed by some highlights and lowlights.
Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental
Rank and City
- Shelbyville, KY
- Brooksville, FL
- Buffalo, NY
- Kissimmee, FL
- Bardstown, KY
- Sevierville, TN
- Holland, MI
- Branson, MO
- Cleveland, OH
- Fayetteville, AR
Worst Cities to Own a Vacation Rental
Rank and City
309. Hyde Park, NY
310. Orange Beach, AL
311. Tuolumne City, CA
312. Old Mystic, CT
313. Kilauea, HI
314. Three Rivers, CA
315. Peach Springs, AZ
316. Wright, WY
317. Kohler, WI
318. Bass Lake, CA
Great Things Come in Small 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. Buffalo, New York, at No. 3, is neighbors with Niagara Falls.
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.
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.
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.