Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
The world’s your oyster when it comes to buying property. But where are the best places to own a vacation rental? You could stick to the proven rental markets in beach destinations like Hawaii and Florida, or venture into the Colorado mountains to attract more revenue during ski season. Or maybe you want to invest in an up and coming modern metropolis, such as Austin or Nashville, where your property is sure property value is expected to increase quickly over the next few years.
Wherever you end up buying, this list should be able to help you better understand the 2020 vacation rental market opportunities and which cities will lead to greater booking revenue.
Here are 8 hot spots to own a vacation rental in 2020.
It seems like everyone is traveling to the Southern California desert now in a wave not seen since the Hollywood elite during the 1950s and 1960s. Despite a flurry of new hotel openings, visitors still want the comforts of home with a full kitchen, multiple baths, and private outdoor space. Design lovers, too, flock to Palm Springs in search of mid-century modern design by either the legends—David Wexler or John Lautner—or their protégés. An art museum, boutique shops, and hiking are among popular local attractions. For golf lovers, there are many tournaments in the greater Palm Springs area (like the Desert Classic each January) and music fans love Coachella (over two weekends in April).
Today’s renter looks for not only a sweet stay but a chance to explore beyond the property—making Palm Springs our top location.
With Southwest Airlines just recently opening up flights to Hawaii, tourism is bound to spike. Because Hawaii has long been a favored destination for multi-generational groups vacationing together, home rentals are the preferred lodging option. Honolulu is not only the easiest Hawaiian city to reach by plane but the most affordable and filled with the most to do, from bustling Waikiki Beach to the North Shore’s beautiful beaches. Like any major city, Honolulu’s event calendar features events–such as marathons (the Honolulu Marathon in December is the fourth-largest in the U.S.), surf opens and film festivals, all of which coax travelers from the mainland.
Did you get the memo that Nashville’s cool again? This honky-tonk town has gone haute and serves as a girlfriend-getaways destination. Convenient flights to this practically middle-of-the-country destination puts most Americans within easy reach. Whether you opt to buy a downtown condo close to cultural attractions like the Ryman Auditorium or a home in one of Nashville’s trendy neighborhoods (like Wedgewood-Houston), options are limitless. Grand Ole Opry is another must-see for most visitors. And with the city’s emerging status as a recording-studio locale, you might rent to the next big name in country music.
The University of Texas at Austin, in Texas’ capital city, enrolls about 50,000 students each year–but also stands on its own as a vibrant town. Live music is a staple in evening entertainment all week long to help fill in the gaps when campus life is in a lull. Plus, with South by Southwest in early March—an annual conference attracting around 72,000 people—your home definitely won’t be empty. Same goes for Austin City Limits each October and the F1 Grand Prix in early November.
Nobody wants the hassle of international travel to reach a beach. Key West—the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, not to mention the continental U.S.—is a fresh alternative. Key West offers tourism angles (from Ernest Hemingway’s former home to snorkeling) as well as interesting architecture (wooden buildings dating back to the late 1800s). It’s a laid-back community with a growing number of restaurants that extend beyond burgers (like at Margaritaville Restaurant), plus hotels and resorts that have opened within the last 5 years.
With convenient flights into Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, artsy and spa-oriented Scottsdale–also a major foodie destination and home to many golf courses and tournaments–continues to delight snowbirds during the winter months. Fans of professional baseball flock to the region, too, for spring training. But it’s also a large enough metropolis to attract travelers to sporting events and concerts all year round, not to mention hikes up Camelback Mountain. If you haven’t been to downtown Phoenix in a few years then you’re in for a surprise: art walks, new hotels, condo developments and a light-rail line have completely transformed it.
Whether you opt for a condo in nearby Isle of Palms or an historic beauty near King Street, know this: for the last 6 years, Travel + Leisure readers named Charleston the no. 1 U.S. city to visit. A major player in the New South movement–with chefs, designers and hotel openings casting this part of the U.S. in a new light–Charleston is a popular destination-wedding spot thanks to a mix of historical and modern venues. This, of course, brings groups traveling together in need of a basecamp during their time in the city.
For downhill skiers who want the privacy of a retreat-like setting (including your very own hot tub), Snowmass Village (pop. 2,769) is perfect. The resort town is only a 20-minute drive to downtown Aspen’s dining and shopping yet right near all the slopes. The town stays interesting once the snow melts, with free live-music concerts in summer and mountain-biking trails during summer and fall.
The best cities to own a vacation rental property in 2020
- Palm Springs, California
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Austin, Texas
- Key West, Florida
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Charleston, North Carolina
- Snowmass Village, Colorado