Are Alabama Gulf Coast condos a good investment?

5 things to know about buying a vacation rental in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and beyond

Every year, millions of travelers descend on the serene, sugar sand beaches of Alabama Gulf Coast for fun and sun. Featuring plenty of oceanfront real estate, the most popular beach towns—Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, and Perdido Key—are considered hot spots for vacation rental properties and condo investments.

Are you considering buying a beach condo to get your share of these travelers’ bookings? Here are five facts to help you determine if a Gulf Shores condo is the right type of vacation home for you.

1. Different travelers are drawn to different parts of town

While the Gulf Coast area as a whole is a much sought-after destination, its individual beach towns tend to attract certain types of travelers. For example:

Fort Morgan

With minimal restaurants and shopping, quiet Fort Morgan is most enticing to couples and retired travelers.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Families and adventurous travelers generally prefer to stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for the easy access (often within walking distance) to shopping, dining, and entertainment.

2. Visitors come for more than just the beaches

The Alabama Gulf Coast draws travelers not just with its expansive white sand shores, but also family-friendly attractions and popular events. These include:

  • Sporting events
    • Blue Marlin Grand Championship
    • USSSA World Series Baseball
    • SEC Women’s Soccer Championship
    • NAIA Women’s National Soccer Championship
    • National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship
    • World Food Championship
  • Festivals
    • Annual National Shrimp Festival
    • Hangout Music Festival
    • Interstate Mullet Toss at Flora-Bama
    • Polar dips
    • Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade
  • Amusement parks and more family fun
    • Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
    • Historic Fort Morgan
    • Mini golf courses
    • Track Family Fun Park
    • OWA Tropic Falls Theme Park
    • Gulf World Marine Park

Vacasa tip: You might want to consider charging higher nightly rates during big events. (When you work with Vacasa, our dynamic pricing technology will automatically adjust rates according to demand.)

Modern vacation rental management

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

3. There are area-specific vacation rental laws and regulations

Vacation home owners must have a valid business license in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Perdido Key—but not in Fort Morgan. All of those cities, however, require you to collect lodging taxes.

The type of license depends on your location, but lodging taxes must be collected and remitted to the appropriate agencies—city, county, and state—monthly whether you have revenue or not.

4. There are many local regulations protecting environment and wildlife

Just like many beaches around the world, visitors and locals alike are asked to follow certain rules to preserve the beauty and health of the coastline. On the Alabama Gulf Coast, most of the rules come from the local Leave Only Footprints program. Some to be aware of:

  • Everyone must remove all beach gear and equipment from the beach by one hour after sunset.
  • No glass, fires, pets, overnight camping, fireworks, cars, or litter allowed.
  • No walking on the dunes or beach vegetation allowed. Use walkovers and boardwalks instead.

There are also efforts to protect local wildlife, including:

Sea turtles

About 50,000 sea turtles nest in the area annually from July to October. Visitors and residents are asked to:

  • Avoid using flashlights or flash photography on the beach at night.
  • Turn off patio lights.
  • Shield indoor lights from shining onto the beach at night.
  • Avoid sea turtle nests.
  • Leave sea turtle tracks undisturbed.

Beach mice

Beach mice are a federally endangered species and are most often seen among the coastal sand dune areas. To protect them, pets are not allowed on the beaches. And most importantly, vacation home owners should never use poison or snap traps to harm the mice.

5. The tropical weather requires careful preparation

Vacation home owners on the Gulf Coast need to have a game plan for hurricane season, lasting from June 1 until November 30. Take the proper precautions and prepare your home in advance. Some measures to take:

  • Trim trees, shrubbery, and dead tree limbs.
  • Repair or replace broken fences.
  • Inspect your home’s roof for loose tiles, shingles, and debris.
  • Install hurricane clips to secure roof trusses to side walls.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce doors and garage doors.
  • Install hurricane shutters onto windows.

If you hire Vacasa to manage your home, our local Gulf Coast team can assist in preparing your home for hurricane season.

Want to learn how Vacasa can help you earn more and book more at your Alabama Gulf Coast vacation rental—all while taking care of your home and guests?

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If you'd like to move forward, we’ll put you in touch with our market expert in your neighborhood to explore the financial potential of your home, outline our management fee, and introduce your local team.


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