When Hurricane Ike touched down on Crystal Beach, Texas, it threatened to take veterinarian Caroline G.’s favorite family tradition with it. In Caroline’s own words, here’s how Vacasa helped her weather the storm.
“Crystal Beach is a small Gulf Coast town on Texas’s Bolivar Peninsula, a short ferry ride from Galveston. Everyone knows everyone there. The only store in town is owned by a local family and sells everything from septic pipes to groceries. Up until the hurricane hit, my parents had a vacation home that looked right out at the ocean.
Every school holiday and at least twice per month during summers, my parents would take the four of us kids to stay at our Crystal Beach getaway. We felt at home there. I remember having family bonfires and driving down the beach at sunset. I even met my first high school boyfriend on that beach.
As adults, my siblings and I realized that my parents’ vacation home wasn’t going to be big enough to accommodate all the nieces and nephews in our growing family. I teamed up with my brother to do something about it. We pooled our resources to buy another vacation home just down the street. We wanted our family to enjoy Crystal Beach for generations to come.”
“Hurricane Ike nearly wiped Crystal Beach off the map. It washed away half the homes. The fire station was gone. City buildings from the post office to the local elementary school were severely damaged. Ike was a category two with wind speeds over 120 miles per hour and two-story waves. It was awful. Our vacation home was washed away. Ike took my parents’ vacation home as well.
After the waters subsided, Crystal Beach began rebuilding. By then, my brother and I had both gotten married to our respective spouses. The only traces of our vacation homes were two battered lots. Retired and in their 70s, my parents didn’t have the energy to rebuild. My brother was focused on starting a family; he didn’t have the time or resources to rebuild either.
With no kids, my husband Frank and I were in a better position to keep the Crystal Beach home legacy going. We bought my brother’s share and decided to rebuild. To afford the taxes and insurance, we would need to put the new home on the vacation rental market—and get a good return.”
“The builder we hired to construct our new vacation home was good friends and business associates with a woman who operates a local property management office. She was nice, and we trusted our builder’s recommendation, so we signed right up. In the end, though, our rental income was always disappointing.
One October day in our third year renting out the new Crystal Beach home, a particularly bad statement arrived in the mail. Our entire summer profits were barely enough to cover the flood insurance bill—and we had taxes coming up in November.
While we’d built the home mostly for personal and family use, we relied on rental revenue to cover the taxes and insurance. That was our deal—if we rented it enough to avoid paying out of pocket, we were fine with keeping the house. But our bookings had done nothing but go downhill every year under current management.
I looked from that statement to Frank and said, ‘We really need to talk about what we want to do with this house. If it’s not making enough to cover the taxes and insurance, then it may not be worth keeping—memories or no memories.’”
“We were in the process of interviewing realtors about selling the Crystal Beach home when we received a letter in the mail from Vacasa. I showed it to Frank and said, ‘Here’s a big property management company we might want to check out. They guarantee we’ll make more money. What do you think?’
We were impressed by Vacasa’s reach as an international company and the budget they have to market vacation homes on all the major sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Our property management options in Crystal Beach were all mom and pop operations who didn’t have much knowledge when it came to web and social media marketing. We couldn’t afford to make that mistake again.
After spending a weekend deliberating at the Crystal Beach home, we decided to give property management one last shot. If Vacasa could make us more money, we might not have to sell.”
“In that first year, Vacasa more than tripled our income. We went from making around $7,000 per year with our previous management company to over $25,000 with Vacasa. Their local team provided good service and consistent communication. They always let us know if something was going on with the house.
I’m glad I checked the mail and discovered Vacasa that day. Now we don’t worry about how we’ll pay the property taxes and insurance bills. We’re even paying down some of the mortgage with rental income. But the best part is that our family has a place to stay when visiting Crystal Beach.
My parents still own their lot down the street. They stay on it in their RV now. We use our vacation home to host larger family gatherings. It’s great having the opportunity to recreate experiences for nieces and nephews and grandkids that we had as kids growing up. I think it’s important to keep family traditions like that going.
Frank and I visit the Crystal Beach home every few weeks. After we retire, we’ll probably spend all our time just hanging out and enjoying life there. For me, the best thing about owning a vacation home is having a quiet getaway where you can build—and rebuild—memories with the people you love.”
The opinions and experiences in this article represent the author’s viewpoint and do not necessarily reflect Vacasa policies.