The View of Lone Peak in Big Sky Montana from Moonlight Basin dock

Best Places To Buy A Vacation Home In 2021

5-Minute Read
Published on July 15, 2021
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Whether you’re searching for a home away from home or weighing the potential return of owning an investment property, there are many factors to consider when buying a vacation home.

Perhaps even more important than the home itself is the location. If you’re planning to frequent the vacation home yourself, it’s important to choose a location close to attractions and amenities that will appeal to your family for years to come. And if you’re planning to generate vacation rental income for all or part of the year, proximity may be even more crucial, as it will play a key role in attracting potential renters.

This means that, depending on your individual needs and goals, the specific location you choose may be drastically different from the next person. But in general, what are some of the best places to buy a vacation home in 2021? To determine this list, we leveraged data from property management company Vacasa’s 2020 report – which looks at home sales data and performance data for vacation rental properties across the country – and analyzed it alongside home value, rental and growth rate data from Zillow.

Big Sky, Montana

If you’re looking for a great cold-weather getaway, look no further! Big Sky is best known for its proximity to Yellowstone Park – which sits only a few miles away – as well as the Big Sky Ski Resort, which features skiing and snowboarding in the winter months and scenic lift rides in the warmer months.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $475,000
  • Average daily rental rate: $502
  • Occupancy rate: 61%
  • Population size: 3,058

Branson, Missouri

When considering the ideal vacation home, Branson may not be the first city that comes to mind, but maybe it should be. As the entertainment capital of Missouri, this city has a wide range of attractions nearby, including Silver Dollar City theme park, the Ozark Mountains and more. And with a relatively low cost of living, this Midwestern town may very well be the ideal place to buy a lake house!

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $124,900
  • Average daily rental rate: $178
  • Occupancy rate: 48%
  • Population size: 11,630

Asheville, North Carolina

With an affordable cost of living, a high rental occupancy rate, and plenty of things to do, Asheville is a great vacation destination, especially for foodies. Asheville is known for its sustainable agriculture efforts, boasting an impressive 17 farmers markets and some one-of-a-kind restaurants. Warm weather and a vibrant nightlife tie it all together, so it’s not a surprise that rental homes in this area are occupied 75% of the year.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $280,300
  • Average daily rental rate: $167
  • Occupancy rate: 75%
  • Population size: 92,870

Poconos, Pennsylvania

With seven state parks and one national park, the Pocono Mountains Region is packed with outdoor attractions – from horseback riding and whitewater rafting in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter. If indoor activities are more your speed, Poconos also has 26 casino hotels, a major racetrack and some world-class dining options.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $167,400
  • Average daily rental rate: $353
  • Occupancy rate: 67%
  • Population size: 11,089

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Blue Ridge got its name from the iconic blue hue that is visible above the mountains from a distance. The Blue Ridge Mountains are about 90 miles north of Atlanta and offer 300 miles of hiking trails and 100 miles of trout streams, so if you enjoy spending your time outdoors, this may be the perfect spot.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $390,00
  • Average daily rental rate: $272
  • Occupancy rate: 72%
  • Population size: 1,157

Kissimmee, Florida

When it comes to the ideal vacation destination, you would be hard pressed to find a location with more nearby attractions than Kissimmee. Bordering Orlando, this city is only minutes away from some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. Combine this with numerous beaches and year-round good weather and it’s no surprise this is the vacation capital of the world.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $142,000
  • Average daily rental rate: $249
  • Occupancy rate: 50%
  • Population size: 72,717

Breckenridge, Colorado

If you’re a history buff or a fan of the Old West, the historic mining town of Breckenridge could make for a profitable second home. Founded in 1859, the iconic Main Street features preserved buildings from the mining era that have been repurposed into fun shops and restaurants the whole family can enjoy. But the true magic of Breckenridge is outside, with ample opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding through the mountains.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $660,000
  • Average daily rental rate: $341
  • Occupancy rate: 61%
  • Population size: 4,938

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Located in the center of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is best known for its scenic charms, which can be enjoyed on numerous paths and trails, or from atop the Gatlinburg Space Needle, which sits 342 feet above ground. As a tourist hub, Gatlinburg also has numerous museums, arcades and an adventure park that visitors of all ages can come together to enjoy.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $269,900
  • Average daily rental rate: $235
  • Occupancy rate: 78%
  • Population size: 4,004

Panama City Beach, Florida

If you’re looking for an affordable beach oasis, you’ve found it! Panama City Beach boasts 27 miles of pristine beaches lining the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew Bay and is known as one of the most affordable beach destinations in the country. But don’t make the mistake of thinking the only appeal here is the beach itself – Panama also features off-shore attractions including shopping centers and a state park.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $360,000
  • Average daily rental rate: $229
  • Occupancy rate: 65%
  • Population size: 12,583

Palm Springs, California

The desert resort city of Palm Springs is one of the trendiest vacation destinations in the U.S. Known for its hot springs, the spas in this area create the perfect atmosphere for peak relaxation. But if you’re looking for something with a faster pace, the Empire Polo Club hosts two insanely popular music festivals here – Coachella and Stagecoach – and the city also features plenty of unique boutiques and restaurants.

  • Median listing price for a 2-bedroom single-family home: $340,000
  • Average daily rental rate: $432
  • Occupancy rate: 79%
  • Population size: 48,518

The Bottom Line: The Best Place For A Vacation Home Depends On Your Needs

At the end of the day, the best area for a vacation home is one that fits your particular needs, whether that’s your preferred vacation destination or the ideal rental investment hotspot.

Before purchasing a second home, be sure to analyze all of the pros and cons of the location to ensure it will attract potential renters – or if you plan to enjoy the home yourself, that it will be the best place for your family to make memories for years to come.

If you’re ready to take the next step, learn more about how to buy a vacation home today!

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Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a writer focused on financial learning for current and future homeowners. She found her love of writing through her experience working with various newspapers, such as the Detroit Free Press. Her financial literacy stems from her four years as a Recruiter, when she learned the details of every role in the mortgage process. As a writer, she uses that knowledge to create relevant content for homeowners to help them reach their goals.