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Best Places To Buy A Home
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A vacation home not only serves as a perfect vacation, but a great investment—especially if you buy one in the right location.
Property management company Vacasa recently released the 2019 Top Places to Buy a Vacation Home Report. To determine its rankings, Vacasa looked at home sales data in vacation destinations across the U.S. and overlay it with actual performance data from thousands of rental properties.
It turns out that the mountains and the beach are fighting for the first places. Vacation home buyers love the Great Smoky Mountains and the Florida coast—but they’re also buying anywhere from Oregon and Hawaii to Vermont.
Read more: Affluent millennials are buying vacation homes before starter homes. There are 3 things you should consider before buying one, says a financial expert.
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Below, see the top US places to buy a vacation home, ranked by average investment return.
25. Destin, Florida is located along the state’s Emerald Coast on a peninsula that separates Choctawhatchee Bay from the Gulf of Mexico.
23. Waikoloa, Hawaii, on the state’s Big Island, is home to several luxury resorts and several golf courses.
22. Seaside, Oregon, which is an hour and a half northwest of Portland, has many cottages and condos on the beach, in town or by the mouth of the river.
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21. Elijai, Georgia, an hour and a half north of Atlanta, is known as the mountain bike capital of the country—and home to many log cabins.
17. Scottsdale, Arizona, located just outside of Phoenix in the center of the state, has desert-style homes near the main Pinnacle Peak hiking area.
15. Marathon, Florida, one of the most popular vacation spots in the Florida Keys, is known for its fishing, seafood and coral reefs.
13. Panama City Beach, Florida, located in the panhandle of the state, stretches along the Gulf Coast for 27 miles.
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11. Blue Ridge, Georgia, in the mountains of the northern part of the state, boasts the Toccoa River – perfect for tubing and kayaking.
9. Fort Bragg, California, located in the northern part of the state on the Mendocino coast, is between the Pacific Ocean and the Jackson State Forest.
8. Key West, Florida, is a small island with Cuban-style houses and no shortage of attractions, from historic sites to great restaurants and outdoor activities.
6. Dauphin, Island, Alabama is an unlikely, small island with lots of adventure activities and bird watching.
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5. Kissimmee, Florida, just over half an hour south of Orlando, is close to outdoor shopping centers and world-famous theme parks, such as Disney World.
4. Whittier, North Carolina, is a small town in the Smoky Mountains near the Tuckasegee River with many rafting tours.
1. Sevierville, Tennessee, just north of Pigeon Forge, is located in the Smoky Mountains near Dolly Parton’s Dollywood. The city also has underground caves. Last year’s hot real estate market may be starting to cool down a bit, but consumer demand for vacation rental real estate is still burning. Whether you’re looking for a rental property or a second home, read on as we outline the 25 best places to buy a vacation home. From coast to coast, we rank our top 25 markets based on rate of return, or rate of return on your investment, and provide helpful data points including median home sales price and annual total rental income.
According to a June 2021 report, demand for second home buyers is starting to fall slightly from its previous peak, opening up cheaper inventory for those still in the market. This slight drop in demand is due to many buyers having bought a second home in the past 18 months, and uncertainty about the need to return to offices and schools.
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Visitor demand for vacation rentals across the country remains high, increasing occupancy and rates annually. This is a great time to enter the vacation home market and take advantage of the opportunity, if you intend to rent your home.
As a result of this demand, we are seeing more first time property investors and second home owners renting out their properties for the first time. But don’t worry, there is a critical need for supply in many areas across the country.
The 2021 Vacation Rental Buyers Report revealed that the majority of buyers (36.4%) currently in the market are looking to spend less than $399,999, which is well in line with median home sales prices in many of the top 25 place to buy.
In the same report, 46% of buyers said they’re looking to start earning now, and that’s exactly where offering full-service vacation rental management can help.
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Check out our top 10 below – and see the full report with market insights, including average annual rental income, for all 25.
COVID-19 Disclaimer: Indoor and outdoor attractions, restaurants, bars, ski villages, events and festivals mentioned in local market descriptions may be closed or canceled, or have limited service due to COVID-19 . Before visiting, it is recommended to check local regulations for the most up-to-date information.
Our number four market in 2020 has moved up the ranks, topping this year’s 25 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home report. And with a median sales price of around $320,000 and a cap rate of 8.6%, it’s easy to see why. Gatlinburg has a lot to offer visitors, including the world-famous Skylift Park, where visitors can walk across the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. In the middle of the bridge, more than 30 feet of glass panels serve as the floor, giving visitors a spectacular view of nature below. But don’t worry if you’re not one for heights. Those who choose not to cross can take in the sights from the safety of the SkyDeck. Another big draw for tourists? Anakeesta Adventure Park has everything from cozy fire pits to dueling zip lines.
Many Florida destinations have made Best Places to Buy reports over the years, but St. Augustine in 2021 (second, no less). Although many visitors flock to St. Augustine for its pristine beaches, others come for the history and European flavor this destination offers. Stroll through the historic downtown district or get a bigger slice of history with a visit to Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and a major visitor attraction. Of course, St. is also a top destination. Augustine for optimal relaxation. Take a sunset cruise or visit St. Augustine Distillery, which boasts the #1 Whiskey Tour in North America.
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While Gulf Shores is known for just about every water sport imaginable, it’s also home to some popular bars and restaurants, perfect for snapping a selfie just to prove you were there. Enter the Hangout Restaurant – inspiration for the Hangout Festival, which brings many travelers (and famous musicians) every spring. Then head over to Lulu’s, owned and operated by none other than Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy. A wide sandy obstacle course will keep the kids entertained, while the adults enjoy the live music, a staple around the bay. If you’re in the market to buy a Gulf Shores vacation home, we expect it to set you back more than $400,000 – but with a cap rate of 7.1%, you can easily recoup the costs.
According to visitors, Dauphin Island is one of those rare places where you immediately feel at ease upon arrival. It’s also known as one of the most family-friendly destinations in the Southeast, so kids will have plenty of activities to keep them entertained—including estuary day trips to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Audubon Bird Sanctuary. After some educational fun, let them blow off some steam on the white sands that surround the island and swim in the clear waters. Dauphin Island’s beaches are quiet and uncrowded, making it the perfect destination for building an old-fashioned sandcastle or catching up on a good read. This island oasis took fourth place with a cap rate of 6.8%.
Norris Lake ranks second in the 2021 Best Places to Buy a Lake Home report — and now, in its first appearance in our Top 25 report, it rounds out the top five with a cap rate of 6.2%. Visitors come to Norris Lake for the main attraction: 52 square miles of freshwater, perfect for activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and wakeboarding. Line up at Gibbs Ferry or Cove Lake State Park, or just sit back and enjoy the scenery
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