2018: Top 25 best places to buy a vacation home

Florida vacation rental with outdoor pool
Lakefront vacation home in the Adirondacks with a private dock

Buying a vacation home can be one of the most financially rewarding and enjoyable investments you’ll ever make. Many of our vacation homeowners invest in multiple properties, building a portfolio of revenue-generating retreats in beautiful destinations around the world.

We designed this report to help active buyers make an informed decision. Our findings are unique because of our unparalleled data and because we focused our analysis exclusively on true vacation rental destinations in order to deliver the most accurate results.

If you’re seriously considering investing in a vacation rental property, read on to find out the top vacation rental markets that you should be looking at in 2018 if you want the biggest return on your investment. We've also released a new version of this report for 2021—read it here.

Top 25 markets for buying a vacation rental in 2018


Median home sale price

Cap rate


Forgotten Coast, FL




Smoky Mountains, TN




Kissimmee, FL




Myrtle Beach, SC




Hilton Head Island, SC




Panama City Beach, FL




Ocean City, MD




Okemo/Ludlow, VT




North Kona, HI




Lake Chelan, WA




Gulf Shores, AL




Marco Island, FL




Key West, FL




Coachella Valley, CA




Pensacola Beach, FL




Marathon, FL




Leavenworth, WA




Fort Myers Beach, FL




Park City, UT




Destin, FL




Sunriver, OR




Central Coast, OR




South Padre Island, TX




Northern Coast, OR




Big Bear, CA



Vacation rental in Lake Tahoe with hot tub and lake views

What we mean by "insider's guide"

As the largest vacation rental manager in the U.S., Vacasa cares for more vacation homes than any other company. We host over a million guests per year. And we do it all through support of our local teams, who are active members in the destination communities where we operate.

For this guide, we combined local real estate expertise with national performance data to provide you the best possible tool for buying a vacation rental home that will generate optimal revenue.

Vacation rental in Kiawah Island, SC with front courtyard

Our methodology

We started with home sales data in vacation markets throughout the country, and overlaid it with actual performance data for over half a million U.S. vacation rental properties. We then layered in insights from our local staff and real estate partners to curate a vacation rental investment guide that’s both informed by local experts and confirmed by comprehensive data.

What we did with that data:

  • First, we analyzed historical home sales in high-density vacation rental markets.
  • Next, we factored the gross rental income less typical operating costs for vacation rental properties in each given region.
  • Finally, we compared each region's net operating income with the cost of buying a home, giving us a picture of each vacation rental market's aggregate capitalization rate, or cap rate*, which we used to order our list.
    Related article: What is cap rate and why is it important?


We hope our Insider’s Guide to the Top 25 Vacation Rental Markets helps prepare you for a rewarding vacation home investment. Here are three takeaways to keep in mind as you start shopping for homes:

1. It’s a great time to buy

Even though the word is out and more people than ever before are investing in vacation rentals, there are still plenty of affordable areas to buy a vacation home. We hope our guide helps you find one that’s right for you.

2. More markets are extending their booking seasons

Growing rental demand and improved guest experiences such as online booking and hotel-quality amenities have led to many vacation rental markets extending their seasons. As booking seasons expand, so does occupancy, effectively increasing revenue for vacation homeowners. Buying low in a 1–2 season market that shows potential to become a 3–4 season market is likely to pay off down the road.

Looking at beach or mountain markets? Let our data reports help guide your investment:
Top 10 Places to Buy a Beach House
Top 10 Winter Destinations to Buy a Vacation Home

3. Going big can pay off

To maximize ROI, consider investing in large vacation homes that make good family rentals but don't have much demand as primary residences. For example, seven-bedroom homes make great income-generating properties, but there’s little demand for these homes because seven bedrooms is more than most families need as a primary residence.

Whether you’re ready to buy a vacation home and want help identifying the perfect market or you already have a market in mind, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 844-219-3161 and we can put you in touch with a local expert.

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Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.

* This document is for information and illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to provide “investment advice” or a “recommendation” regarding a course of action. The discussion is general in nature and has not taken into account your personal financial position or objectives. You should consult a licensed financial advisor or other professional to discuss your specific situation.

Estimated rental income figures and home sale prices are based on historical averages; for any specific property, the actual revenue, purchase price, and cap rate may differ materially from estimated amounts and depend on a wide range of factors outside Vacasa's knowledge or control, such as the property's condition, layout, and furnishings; expenses associated with the acquisition and ownership of the property (such as property taxes, utility fees, HOA fees, insurance fees, and mortgage-related expenses); rental calendar availability; existing and future regulations; current and future economic, social, and political trends and conditions; and weather and environmental factors. These estimates do not take into account the potential impact of state income taxes.

Vacasa makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the accuracy of this document. Furthermore, Vacasa has no obligation to update, modify or amend this document or to otherwise notify users in the event that any opinion, assumption, forecast or estimate set forth herein changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on statements in this document.