20 Best U.S. Cities to Own a Vacation Home

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

Vacation rentals have been white-hot during the coronavirus pandemic. Seen as cleaner than hotels and better for long-term stays while working remotely, these short-term accommodations have been thriving during our time of isolation.

Because of this popularity, vacation rentals can command some serious cash. The average owner of a second home pulls in over $33,000 a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

But when it comes to vacation rentals, location is everything. So, where can you find the most bang for your buck?

LawnStarter’s ranking of the best cities to own a vacation rental compared over 300 cities across 10 key metrics — from the median listing price per square foot to the rental vacancy rate to the prevalence of property crime.

Read on to find out which markets to invest your money in now.

1. Shelbyville, KY

Shelbyville, Kentucky
Tudoran Andrei / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 68.88

Competition and Cost Rank: 70

ROI Potential Rank: 23

Attractions Rank: 296

Safety Rank: 11

2. Brooksville, FL

Brooksville, Florida
Daniel Wright98 / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 68.21

Competition and Cost Rank: 184

ROI Potential Rank: 2

Attractions Rank: 230

Safety Rank: 208

3. Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 67.71

Competition and Cost Rank: 69

ROI Potential Rank: 15

Attractions Rank: 55

Safety Rank: 119

4. Kissimmee, FL

Kissimmee, Florida
Italo Paulino / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 66.94

Competition and Cost Rank: 11

ROI Potential Rank: 36

Attractions Rank: 134

Safety Rank: 116

5. Bardstown, KY

Bardstown, Kentucky
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 66.73

Competition and Cost Rank: 123

ROI Potential Rank: 30

Attractions Rank: 239

Safety Rank: 10

6. Sevierville, TN

Sevierville, Tennessee
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 66.43

Competition and Cost Rank: 12

ROI Potential Rank: 32

Attractions Rank: 99

Safety Rank: 154

7. Holland, MI

Holland, Michigan
Craig Sterken / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 66.12

Competition and Cost Rank: 229

ROI Potential Rank: 10

Attractions Rank: 152

Safety Rank: 28

8. Branson, MO

Branson, Missouri
Drew Pace / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 65.58

Competition and Cost Rank: 6

ROI Potential Rank: 34

Attractions Rank: 58

Safety Rank: 209

9. Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Ohio
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 65.3

Competition and Cost Rank: 170

ROI Potential Rank: 6

Attractions Rank: 44

Safety Rank: 231

10. Fayetteville, AR

Fayetteville, Arkansas, Washington County Court House
shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 65.11

Competition and Cost Rank: 2

ROI Potential Rank: 152

Attractions Rank: 192

Safety Rank: 67

11. Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, Arkansas
Niwat panket / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 65.08

Competition and Cost Rank: 56

ROI Potential Rank: 18

Attractions Rank: 139

Safety Rank: 214

12. Pagosa Springs, CO

Pagosa Springs, Colorado
mpiercephoto.com / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 65

Competition and Cost Rank: 3

ROI Potential Rank: 120

Attractions Rank: 174

Safety Rank: 93

13. Las Vegas, NV

Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.88

Competition and Cost Rank: 48

ROI Potential Rank: 133

Attractions Rank: 8

Safety Rank: 48

14. Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.68

Competition and Cost Rank: 185

ROI Potential Rank: 7

Attractions Rank: 151

Safety Rank: 189

15. San Marcos, TX

San Marcos, Texas
Philip Arno Photography / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.63

Competition and Cost Rank: 64

ROI Potential Rank: 37

Attractions Rank: 263

Safety Rank: 113

16. Jamestown, NY

Jamestown, New York
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.61

Competition and Cost Rank: 272

ROI Potential Rank: 3

Attractions Rank: 270

Safety Rank: 110

17. Gulfport, MS

Gulfport, Mississippi
Norm Lane / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.57

Competition and Cost Rank: 65

ROI Potential Rank: 22

Attractions Rank: 234

Safety Rank: 186

18. Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.51

Competition and Cost Rank: 39

ROI Potential Rank: 49

Attractions Rank: 38

Safety Rank: 140

19. Bowling Green, KY

A theater in Bowling Green, Kentucky
JNix / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.39

Competition and Cost Rank: 10

ROI Potential Rank: 122

Attractions Rank: 177

Safety Rank: 72

20. Gunnison, CO

Gunnison, Colorado
My Good Images / Shutterstock.com

Overall Score: 64.29

Competition and Cost Rank: 1

ROI Potential Rank: 170

Attractions Rank: 218

Safety Rank: 85


Data entry on a laptop
baranq / Shutterstock.com

We ranked 318 U.S. cities in descending order — from best to worst — based on their individual score totals in the metrics list below. The city that scored the highest was ranked No. 1, or “best.”

  • Size of the Rental Market
  • Rental Vacancy Rate
  • Median Annual Property Taxes
  • Median Listing Price per Sq. Ft.
  • Annual Rental Income (Capitalization Rate)
  • Daily Rental Income
  • Total Attractions
  • Violent Crime Rate
  • Property Crime Rate
  • Natural Hazard Index Score

Sources: AllTheRooms, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, TripAdvisor, U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow.

So there you have it: the best cities to own a vacation home. And when your new rental home needs landscaping, come back to LawnStarter. It’s kind of what we do.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.