When you’re first starting out as a vacation rental owner, there’s one big question: how much money can I expect to make?
Short-term rental properties can give second homeowners solid revenue returns, and are often more profitable than long-term rentals. But that additional income doesn’t come without costs. From taxes and insurance to cleaning and management fees, it’s important to factor a number of expenses into your income calculations to help paint an accurate picture of your home’s profit potential.
That’s where our vacation rental income calculator comes in. Simply plug in your monthly revenue and expenses below, then sit back as our tool automatically churns out an annual income estimate — all factors considered.
Not sure where to pull all those numbers? Take a peek below our tool to understand your income and expense variables in more detail, and check out our bonus resources that can help you make confident estimates.
The first step in accurately predicting income? Defining each term properly. Here’s a quick-reference glossary of what each variable used in our vacation rental income calculator means.
Avg rate you expect to charge/night
Avg # of nights you expect to book/month
Your monthly mortgage payment
Monthly costs for heat/hot water, electricity/AC, wifi & cable
Insurance & Property Taxes
Monthly costs for homeowners insurance, liability insurance & property protection plan + your state’s property tax rate
Monthly sum of HOA & maintenance costs + avg cost of stocking/upgrading your short-term rental
Monthly % of income set aside for management/marketing fees (dependent on how you choose to run your property)
Let’s be real: calculating an accurate income for your investment property can be confusing. Certain elements — like mortgage and utility payments — have fairly standard numerical values you can enter into the calculator without much math. But other components require more contextual consideration, so let’s walk through each step of the process in more detail.
To accurately estimate nightly rate and expected nights booked, it’s important to understand the current market in your area.
The good news: we’ve analyzed thousands of listings across North America to aggregate the most influential performance metrics for you. From nightly rate and nights booked to average lengths of stay and prime booking windows throughout the year, all of the results can be found in our library of Vacation Rental Performance Reports. Each gives you a data-backed gauge of how direct competition performs — and, in turn, how much you can expect to charge and book.
You can pull the nightly rate and nights booked averages from those performance reports, then plug them into the vacation rental income calculator above to provide a solid foundation for estimating monthly income (and, ultimately, overall revenue).
But homeowners who work with Evolve also get the benefit of our proprietary SmartRates algorithm. It adjusts dynamically each night to guarantee your home always paces alongside rival listings — and outperforms in the long run. Case in point: SmartRates has earned our homeowners 24 percent more than traditionally-static pricing methods!
From taxes to marketing fees, your expense estimate relies heavily on custom quotes and individual choices.
First, add up the monthly costs of your different types of insurance — like homeowners insurance, liability insurance, and a property protection plan. (Fun fact: our Evolve homeowners are automatically covered for up to $3,000 in damages and $1,000,000 in liability at no additional expense.)
Then comes property taxes. How they’re applied varies by state, so be aware of your particular municipal requirements. If you’re not sure, you can plug your rental property’s address into this complimentary tool to receive the right rate.
Once you have an estimate for both, combine the numbers and enter the sum into our vacation rental income calculator.
Next, input your monthly mortgage payment and utilities.
To incorporate what we’ve deemed other expenses, first combine monthly HOA and maintenance costs, cleaning fees, and the average expense of keeping your short-term rental well-stocked for guests.
If you need to make furniture or decor upgrades, put a price to those overarching updates and divide by 12 before adding to your total monthly view of those additional expenses.
Finally, there are management costs to consider. This figure will look different depending on how you choose to run your vacation rental.
If you run a vacation rental without any help:
If you use a property manager:
If you use Evolve as your property manager (P.S. we list your home on all the top short-term rental marketplaces at no additional cost):
Between the steep fees of traditional property managers and the overwhelming responsibility of a DIY approach, it’s hard to strike a cost-benefit balance that guarantees your success. At least, it was until Evolve came into the picture.
For the lowest management fees around, we’ll apply a data-proven marketing and booking strategy to your vacation rental, boosting your revenue potential while keeping costs (and stress levels) down. It’s how we’ve helped over 14,000 homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income — and we’re ready to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.
Imagine: after a long travel day, a guest arrives at your vacation rental and — ugh — spots a glass in the sink, an unswept floor, or even a ruffled bedspread. It’s enough to make them wonder: is the place just a bit messy, or are the cleanliness standards at this home not quite up to their expectations?
As a vacation rental owner, a situation like this could be the difference between a five-star review and a two- or three-star rating. And the stakes are even higher amidst a global pandemic. Safety precautions and total sanitation are critical as travelers want to responsibly escape reality. Which means guests won’t — and shouldn’t — look past cleaning snafus.
To make sure your vacation rental is totally spotless and giving off those safe-and-comfy vibes, download our three easy-to-use vacation rental cleaning checklists. Available in both English and Spanish, they’ll make your pre- and post-guest cleaning routine comprehensive and foolproof.
Download Our Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklists
When establishing best practices for your vacation rental management, adding organization to processes helps standardize them. With codified documentation, you’ll spend less time handling mishaps and more time nurturing (and scaling) your business.
With a vacation rental cleaning checklist in hand, you’ll:
Even when a cleaning routine is tried and true, it’s natural to overlook a step in the process — or think you’ve done something you haven’t.
With checklists, you effectively eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) that risk. Having your cleaners initial each box as they go is a super easy way to ensure the service is as thorough as intended.
When you onboard cleaning services, it’s important to outline expectations from the jump. Providing comprehensive cleaning checklists helps teams not only navigate the areas of your home that obviously need attention, but also tackle tasks that may be less obvious to the naked eye (like, say, sanitizing surfaces and handles).
Certain cleaning services may also have different people coming through your home between each guest visit. Requiring every team to fill out the same checklists mitigates discrepancies, so you can rest easy knowing consistent standards are applied every time. (Just remember to get those completed checklists back for recordkeeping.)
Guests pay a professional cleaning fee when they book your property, so they’re expecting an impeccable home that looks just like the pictures online.
By utilizing cleaning checklists, you make the turnover process between bookings seamless. This helps avoid unpleasant phone calls or complaints while giving guests peace of mind that their health, safety, and comfort is top of mind.
Plus, if you do receive concerns from guests, you’ll have a record of everything your cleaning services covered before their stay.
All of this makes for a happy guest. Happy guests write great reviews, and great reviews mean more trust-backed bookings.
Evolve believes maintaining your vacation rental should be as easy as checking a few boxes. Download our cleaning checklists today (available in English and Spanish), which include additional pre- and post-stay checklists for an even more robust set of processes.
And don’t forget, we’re here to support you in more ways than one. Our fresh approach to vacation rental management gives you total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com.
We’ll also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.
It’s our job to drive more guests to your property for maximum income, so you can focus on providing an incredible guest experience — all for an industry-low 10% management fee.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income. And we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.
Digital nomads, rejoice: Work and play no longer have to be separate. While you’re still remote, get some fresh air without using all of your vacation days. Switching up your routine a little can inspire new thinking and deepen your focus — all while you enjoy all the luxuries of vacation on your off-time.
Ready to get out of the house? Pick one of these places based on how you like to feel at work and change up the scenery.
Make your co-workers jealous by joining the company meeting poolside. Lounge in the sun while you knock projects off your list, then enjoy a crisp plunge in the water. Bonus: all of our homes are vetted in person, which means these pools are as good as they look.
Soak in the desert sun from this Goodyear home with a resort-style hot tub and pool combo. Work on your tan while you work from the sprawling patio, complete with a fully shaded outdoor area. The interior’s open layout and farmhouse furnishings are so beautiful that you’ll want to stay in and make meals at home — but when you’re ready to get out, grab ice cream at The Frozen Monkey and take a stroll around South Lake Park.
If you’re feeling fancy, this Florida short-term rental is like stepping into a palace you can call your own. Here, 6,500 square feet of space is yours — meaning you can find a new place to work remotely every day. Sit al fresco in the expansive outdoor cabana or lounge by the palm-tree lined pool worthy of a magazine shoot. On weekends, day trip to the Florida Keys or take it easy with a bottle of local wine from Schnebly Winery.
The moment you set your bag down, the cerulean waters of this backyard pool will invite you to take a dip. Catch up with your group beneath the pergola, then swim laps in this sophisticated marvel as the sun goes down. Enormous windows let the light in here and make it feel like you’re by the pool, even when you’re hard at work inside. When you need to get out, experience the big city feeling by taking a walk through downtown Austin.
Honorable Mentions: Enjoy views of your own private lake and private pool at this luxurious vacation rental in Norman, OK, visit this meticulously decorated home with its own mini golf putting green and awe-inspiring pool in the Coachella Valley, or swim by day, stream movies in the home theater by night from this Pigeon Forge vacation rental.
Exercise helps mental health and increases productivity — and companies are encouraging their teams to work out more than ever. These vacation rentals are perfect for a getaway that blends work-life balance, with a home gym to break up your day.
Redwoods and red wine are waiting for you in Sonoma County. This charming cabin is the place to go glamping in the woods while still keeping a wi-fi signal. Nature is your gym here in a home that’s surrounded by trails and a few minutes from the beach, but if you want a more traditional place to exercise, hit the cabin’s small home gym. After a long work week, hop in the car, soak in ocean views, and savor wines from famous vineyards.
Turn your workday into a fairytale at this welcoming Acworth mansion, complete with a pool and its own movie theater. Take your lunch break in the home gym, catch up on emails from the gazebo, and toast to the day by the outdoor fire pit once five o’clock hits. There are so many ways to clear your head — whether it’s playing billiards, or cooking a meal for your group and enjoying it in the sprawling dining areas.
Honorable Mentions: This budget-friendly vacation home in Glendale, AZ offers all the perks of a private resort, including a pool and a putting green. Or, go big and work remotely from this enormous vacation home sitting over the lake in Kaiser, MO. You can also sit out by your own private creek and access some of Colorado’s most pristine trails from this home amid the treetops in Evergreen, CO.
Evolve only rents homes with private entrances, which means that every place on our site is perfect for finding focus. But if you’re looking for a getaway where you can separate your 9-5 from your night of relaxation, these picks come with a home office and the bliss of complete quiet.
Enormous Retreat In Erie, CO
This vacation rental is made for remote work retreats with multiple offices, plenty of separate seating areas, and a boardroom-style table. Travel with friends and tackle the workday separately from your own private spaces, then reconnect over a game night in the living room. Wind down while strolling downtown Boulder (just a short drive away) with the Flatiron mountains as your backdrop.
Enjoy a life of luxury from this scenic cabin equipped with its own lofted office for working remotely. Catch up about the day around the outdoor fire pit or sip wine on the sprawling wood patio immersed in the forest. If you feel like getting outside, explore the easy Show Low Bluff Trail on foot or spend a leisurely day fishing at Fool Hollow Lake.
Honorable Mention: Work remotely from this vacation rental in Fairplay, CO, and enjoy a cozy, log cabin exterior with a clean, modern interior.
Good books are meant to be enjoyed next to a crackling fireplace. After a long day at the (virtual) office, sink into the couch at one of these places and find your cozy. All you need to bring is hot cider and groceries — each of our homes comes fully equipped with all the amenities you need to stay in for the night.
Hit the road and head to Idyllwild, which sits in California’s San Jacinto mountains. Pets are welcome at this airy dome house that’s a theater to thousands of night stars. Once you’ve closed up your laptop for the day, hit the trails at Mount San Jacinto State Park, then bring home a mountain pie to share from Idyllwild Pizza.
Rise to the sound of trees rustling out this bright property filled with natural light. Kick your feet up in the loft to get some focus, then spend happy hour in the hot tub before cooking up a feast in the gorgeous, modern kitchen. When you’re ready for fresh air, take an evening bike ride along Lake Tahoe, or just sit out and enjoy the lake.
Breckenridge is an outdoor paradise — and this enormous cabin that sleeps 14 is just the place to enjoy it. Take your calls from the quiet porch, indulge in a midday break to shoot some hoops in the in-home basketball court, and wind down by the fire after an evening of exploring the area’s sites. Window shop along Main Street and grab takeout, or find a hike like Hoosier Pass you can do as the sun goes down over the mountain.
Honorable Mentions: Sip a nightcap on a porch overlooking the creek at this vacation home in Frisco, CO, or soak your bones in the hot tub surrounded by trees in this Alto, New Mexico cabin.
EXPLORE ALL HOMES WITH A FIREPLACE
Get some new perspective on what you’re working on from one of these places with a view. Find yourself thinking in new ways as you walk along the beach or sit out on the lake, free to let your mind wander. Just be sure to bring a notepad with you as you roam these houses for the moment a great idea strikes.
If you’ve ever had the dream of looking out to the shoreline from a hot tub, this is just the place for you. This hilltop home in the Pacific Northwest is a destination for remote work, with several cozy seating areas, an unbelievable porch view looking over the coast, and a hot tub where you can dip and drink it all in. After work, take a scenic, slow drive along the Tillamook Bay and end the evening with scoops at the iconic Tillamook Creamery.
A lake with a private dock is yours at this calming escape in Albion, MI. This home is filled with windows so you never miss the view, even when you’re inside. There are so many places to work at this home on the golf course — whenever you need some fresh thinking, just pick a new room. The spacious kitchen opens right up into the living room, so you can share stories as you prepare the dinner to share. Days off can be spent on the course, dipping in the lake, or curling up next to a roaring fire while keeping the view.
Beachfront Home In Topsail Beach, NC
Creativity is often sparked by a long walk, and here, you can take that walk out on the beach. Sit out on one of the two decks facing the waves, then step out onto the sand when you need a break. Sunsets here look like a postcard, and you can enjoy them from a bright, cheerful house that is decorated to feel like vacation in every room. Spend the weekend grilling up porch on the outdoor barbecue and catching up your beach read in the pristine sand.
Honorable Mentions: Get out into the mountains at this Jefferson, CO cabin with a verdant view of the mountains and its own game room and treehouse. Or, book this cheerful beachfront home in New Smyrna Beach, FL with ocean access and take your morning coffee in the sand.
Enjoy the freedom to work remotely from a vacation rental anywhere, with all the comforts of home. Find your perfect place to get some fresh air and rest easy knowing that it’ll be professionally cleaned and ready for your arrival.
So you’re thinking about hiring a property management company for your vacation rental.
Maybe you’ve got an extra home, you just purchased a new property, or you’re exploring ways to make some extra income. It could be your first time dealing with vacation rentals, or maybe you’ve been burned by property management companies before.
A question you might be wondering is — why shouldn’t I just do this myself?
While there are owners who handle management themselves, it can be incredibly time-consuming to promote your rental, field traveler inquiries, take quality photos, write and revise the listing, answer questions about your property, vet potential guests, juggle on-the-ground services like cleaning and maintenance, and follow up for reviews.
There’s a better way. Hiring the right vacation rental management company for your home can take the stress, endless tasks, extra time, and marketing responsibilities off your plate.
But before you hire a traditional or local property manager, make sure to ask these seven questions to know you’re getting everything you need.
You’re looking for a manager who has a good feel for the local market. A great property manager will know the ins and outs of your location — high season, low season, competing rates, what types of property are most popular in the area, and how local regulations and trends are affecting vacation rentals. You can prep for your conversation with our market-by-market vacation rental performance reports.
Ask your potential manager questions about the local market and feel out their responses. If the vacation rental manager has reasonable answers to those questions, you’ve probably found a solid manager who spends a good amount of time thinking about how to help their clients succeed.
If they seem uncertain or their answers seem off, you may want to keep looking. Be particularly wary if you know about regulations in the area that they don’t; every manager should be fully aware of the status of local short-term rental regulations. And don’t base their experience on years in the business. There are quite a few longtime property managers out there who haven’t kept up with changes in the industry and don’t perform well as a result.
Many vacation rental property management fees range from 25-50% of your rental income. And, in some areas, the rates continue to rise.
Before hiring a local property manager, do the math to determine whether you can afford to pay that high of a fee and still meet your rental income goals.
Contracts are the biggest sticking point for owners who have wound up with a poor property manager. If you figure out in the first two months that the property manager isn’t doing their job well, but you’re locked in for a year-long contract, you’re going to be very unhappy for the remaining ten months of that year. You’ll also want to know the payment terms and timing. Some managers can take months to pay and, if you’re caught in an unfavorable contract, it can be a long time until you get paid.
If a management company requires a contract, ask whether there are any out clauses based on performance or poor service. For example, if the management company fails to clean the property three times in one year, or only gets you two bookings in six months, you should be able to leave their service without a penalty.
Above all, make sure any fees and agreements help you build a vacation rental business that prioritizes guest experience over short-term profit.
You’re hiring a vacation rental management company for the high level of services they provide. You’ll want to know exactly what services are included in their fee.
Specifically ask whether the fee covers marketing, photography, writing the listing, updating the listing, observing market trends, cleaning, maintenance, pre-stay walkthroughs, or in-person visits for any issues that arise during a guest’s stay.
You should also ask about any services that are not included in their fee – for example, some property management companies will charge an additional fee if one of their employees has to visit the property outside of business hours to address a problem the guest is having. Excellent guest support should not cost more.
Once you know what services the fee does and does not cover, ask yourself if you’re getting enough bang for your buck. If your management company covers everything from marketing to maintenance, the fee may be worthwhile. If it only covers cleaning and all other services are a la carte, you should probably keep shopping for a better deal.
This is an important one. Ask them how and where they’ll market your property.
Many vacation rental management companies prefer to market their clients’ properties only on their own website. These days, that’s not enough. You want to be on all the major websites with highly professional listings. No matter how popular a local manager’s site is, it’s never going to get the same amount of traffic as major online listing sites like Vrbo, HomeAway or Airbnb – which means you’ll be missing out on a lot of potential guests if you’re limited to one website. Make sure you understand their marketing plan.
Marketing is a big word that includes the photography of your rental, a high-converting property listing, framing your rental for current trends and the market, and how it is promoted.
A vacation rental manager’s 25-50% ought to cover the cost of marketing your property on at least one major listing site in addition to any marketing efforts they make to raise the profile of their own site. Listen for words like “appear high in the search results” or “search engine marketing” – these are good indicators your manager has put effort into raising and maintaining their website’s profile online.
Your manager should also actively solicit reviews from happy guests and follow up with guests who have already stayed at the property to see if they want to book again next year. Ask your vacation rental manager what they do to ensure repeat business and 5-star reviews to entice new guests to come and stay at your property.
Vacation rental managers aren’t awake around the clock, (which is just fine, because most guests aren’t either) but they should be available when people are likely to be making their travel plans: before work, after work, and on weekends.
If your manager is only available to make bookings from 9-5 on weekdays, the odds are very good you’ll be missing out on bookings from people who work standard office jobs at those hours. Believe it or not, the ideal response time for inquiries is 15 minutes, so the bar is pretty high for providing the kind of service that turns into bookings.
You should also ask if guests are able to book online and use a credit card. The vast majority of guests prefer to book online, and very few are willing to get on the phone or send a paper check in the mail. If your potential manager doesn’t offer any way for those guests to book online, you’ll again miss out on bookings.
After every stay, you should confirm that your guests left your property in good condition and that any accidental damage was documented and addressed. Be sure to ask your potential vacation rental manager how they handle issues like broken dishes or missing items after a guest’s stay.
You’re looking for a manager who performs a post-stay walkthrough after every guest leaves, takes photos of any damages for your records, and takes steps to bring the property back up to good condition for the next guests.
Your property manager isn’t expected to pay for damages out of pocket – that cost will come from the guest’s deposit or a damage protection program like Property Protection Plus (included as part of Evolve’s lightweight vacation rental management approach). However, your manager should notice the damage, report it, and speak to the guest about retaining their deposit to cover the damage if necessary.
Always ask to speak with a few existing clients prior to signing a contract. Previous and current owners can share details about working with the vacation rental managers and exactly what to expect from your arrangement.
If a manager is reluctant to give you references or isn’t enthusiastic about current clients speaking about their experience, that’s a sign this manager isn’t going to be a good fit for you. You should be able to hear or read success stories from customers who endorse the company.
On the other hand, if their current clients rave about this vacation rental manager and give you lots of insider tips they’ve learned since working with them on navigating the local market, full speed ahead! This manager may well be just the business partner you’re looking for.
The traditional models of vacation rental management are outdated. Doing it yourself is a LOT of work and, as we’ve covered, working with traditional property management companies means less control with fees that are hard to justify.
But there’s a better way. You don’t have to do it all yourself. And you don’t have to sign a contract with an overpriced property manager. Evolve is different.
Evolve’s lightweight management approach gives you total marketing, booking, and customer support, plus the power to choose your own “home team” to clean and monitor your property.
Basically, we drive more guests to your property for maximum income, while giving you more choices with fewer rules – all for an industry-low 10% booking fee.
We’ve helped 10,000+ homeowners earn more than $500 million in rental income. And we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Homeowner Consultants today at 877.881.7584 (and if you have more questions, take a quick look at this FAQ about Evolve).
“Aren’t you just like Airbnb and Vrbo?”
We get that question a lot from people who haven’t worked with us yet. It’s easy to see why. We’re all in the same industry, short-term property rentals. You can find and book great properties on our website or on theirs. And the fact that every Evolve property appears on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online marketplaces just adds a little more to the confusion.
So let’s clear things up and outline exactly how Evolve is NOT Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, or any other online marketplace.
Airbnb, Vrbo, and similar websites are online “marketplaces” where guests find properties and homeowners find guests. Essentially, they act as a distribution channel for owners or property managers, attracting potential guests to their website but leaving the management of the properties and listings to the owners (or whoever is representing the property) themselves.
Evolve is a vacation rental management company. That means we actively manage our properties on behalf of our owners, ensuring maximum bookings and eliminating the stress of the traditional vacation rental process.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Evolve is a BIG customer of the online marketplaces. We have more than 11,000 properties listed on their sites, and we constantly take advantage of the latest strategies to ensure our owners’ properties are always positioned for maximum traffic and conversion.
Behind the scenes, we have teams of specialists working on the hardest parts of managing a vacation rental: marketing, booking, and customer service. Our teams do everything from creating search-topping property listings to dynamically setting rates to answering guest questions and asking for online reviews. We even hire professional photographers at no cost to owners to show each property in the best possible light.
As a result of our approach, Evolve properties outperform most others on the online marketplaces. So we don’t compete with Airbnb, Vrbo and the rest. We work with them–and everybody wins.
Unlike most marketplaces, we don’t offer home sharing, extended stays, campsites, trailers, or other mobile structures. Each Evolve property has its own entrance and kitchen (typically a house or condominium). A lot of Evolve guests appreciate having the comforts of home when they travel, and our properties reflect that.
We take even more guesswork out of vacation rental by making sure our properties meet our four core standards. We believe guests simply won’t have the experience they’re looking for unless the property they’ve booked is:
By focusing on properties ideally suited for vacationing and making sure each one lives up to our standards, we’re building a brand that guests can trust to have the time of their lives.
Since Airbnb, Vrbo, and the like don’t handle property management, homeowners have traditionally been forced to either hire a local company to do it or fend for themselves. Evolve is different.
We give homeowners performance-focused marketing and booking support, plus the flexibility to choose their own partner(s) to clean the property and greet guests. Evolve handles all guest inquiries, bookings, and pre-stay communications. We can also connect owners with hundreds of vetted partners nationwide that can handle cleaning and guests.
With Evolve’s help, every guest enjoys a booking experience that feels as professional as the world’s top hospitality brands. We handle all inquiries directly, resolve guest and owners questions, and communicate directly with cleaners to ensure the property is ready for every guest. Our unique approach makes vacation rental actually feel like vacation for owners and guests.
Once you work with Evolve, you quickly discover the difference between our service and all of the others. It starts with the way we charge owners nothing to join (plus an industry-low 10% management fee) and list properties on all the major online marketplaces––not just Evolve’s site. It continues with the way we market your listing and promptly handle every query, seven days a week. And it becomes clear in all the ways we make vacation rental easy for everyone.
Owners should be able to relax, trusting that their property is living up to its potential. And guests should be able to relax with an experience that feels like a big hospitality brand. That’s the Evolve difference.
Learn more about Evolve and how we can help you find success with Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online marketplaces.
Your Free Welcome Book Template is Here!
Sure, your property listing covers a lot of info about your home — but guests will still have some questions when they arrive. Like, which local coffee shop has the best ambiance? What’s that one trick to getting the dishwasher started? How should they handle check-out?
Your welcome book is the perfect place to answer common questions, and it’s also one of the most searched for vacation rental amenities. By providing essential info up front, you can free guests from encountering snags during their stay.
We think that putting together this important resource should feel easy — which is why we made you a free welcome book template. All you have to do is download it and plug in your home’s info!
Welcome books have a big impact on your guests’ experience. Here are some reasons to block off a few minutes and fill in this template.
Welcome books help others navigate your rental property and treat it the right way.
Guests want to know how to watch a movie at night or adjust the temperature in your house. Giving them a resource on how to get comfortable living in your rental is sure to make their vacation stress-free for both of you.
Welcome books provide local highlights and a sense of your personality.
The reason many guests book vacation rental properties is to immerse themselves in the location. Recommending restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and more can turn a good trip into the best trip ever. Lead your guests to the most delicious slice in town — or teach them how to avoid crowds at a local attraction — and they’ll want to book with you again in the future.
Welcome books show guests that you care.
Your advice on how to make the most of your property gives guests the friendly engagement they’re looking for. It also protects their personal space and privacy by providing valuable information without requiring personal interaction.
Welcome books help you get great reviews.
Your guests are likely to reward your thoughtfulness in their reviews. Even better, you or your guest contact may get fewer questions during their stay, and you’ll be sending new customers to your favorite local shops and restaurants, ensuring they thrive!
Sounds pretty great, right? But where should you start?
From a friendly “hello” letter to your home’s policies, these are the sections you’ll need to put together the most useful welcome book.
Guests who choose vacation rental are looking for a unique home with a real person behind it. Writing a note to personally welcome them to your property is another way to separate yourself from a hotel — and reinforce their decision to stay with you.
Make sure your welcome book provides at least one name, telephone number, and email for a local contact near your property. This person can be you, a local property manager, or even a neighbor — but they should be easily reachable, and available to come to the home on short notice. Nobody wants unanswered guest complaints to derail a pleasant stay.
You’ll also want to include contact details and addresses for the following emergency resources, just in case:
Remember, guests don’t have all of the resources they’d typically have at home. They’ll feel more at ease if they know you have their safety in mind.
Even if you send your policies in a pre-stay email, (Evolve does!) it’s still important to reiterate them at the property. Including policies in your welcome book can help you resolve common vacation rental issues and complaints because guests will have a difficult time arguing that they weren’t aware of the rules.
You should include all of the following information in your welcome book:
An in-home reference guide will help remind guests how best to enjoy your home and leave it in good shape for the next guests. Another perk of including your policies: you’re way less likely to find broken or misused items after a stay!
When your guests can’t figure out simple things like how to turn on the hot tub, they can get frustrated and wind up taking out that frustration in their review of your property. Even if every appliance works perfectly, spending valuable relaxation time figuring out how to use it is no one’s idea of a fun vacation.
Include helpful instructions for your:
This is also a good place to note any quirks of your property. For example, if the Wifi works very well all over the house, but not in the family room downstairs, make sure your guests know that. If they aren’t expecting an issue, they’ll be annoyed by it, but with a little forewarning, they’ll feel like they know exactly what they can expect, and it’s less likely to trouble them.
You know all of the insights you’ve collected about your neighborhood? Now’s the time to share your expertise — because everyone loves a good recommendation from a local! Try to suggest activities that would appeal to a range of guest types, such as family-friendly museums or romantic places for a dinner out.
Be sure to give addresses and phone numbers for each of your recommendations. Adding the amount of time it takes to get to the destination is a great idea, too. Include at least a suggestion or two in each of the following categories:
And share places where you personally enjoy going. This isn’t to say you can’t include popular attractions you haven’t visited in person. Just let your guests know that you haven’t tried them yourself, but you’ve heard good things and you hope they’ll tell you how they liked them! You can then use the guest feedback to gauge whether that activity merits a mention in your Welcome Book.
Help guests explore your area by creating a section devoted to local transit. Be sure to include contact info, directions, schedules and any other details that guests might find helpful, like:
Here’s the good news: we’ve already created one for you.To make things easier for you and your guests we created a free downloadable template. Enter your email in the form below to get your free, customizable copy. Then, type your information into our template, print the completed welcome book, and display it in an obvious area of your rental property, such as the kitchen counter. And if you’re looking to start booking more nights on your vacation rental, we can help with that, too.
Vacation rentals can be lucrative investments. They offer rental income in the short term and build equity in the long term. It’s an exciting proposition attracting more investors, especially as travelers embrace vacation rentals as their preferred accommodations.
For the third year in a row, we’re happy to share our list of the ten best places to buy a vacation rental. Our experience working with over 10,000 vacation rental properties across the United States has given us insight into more than 500 markets and how they perform.
This year, we’re including our estimated capitalization rate (cap rate) to help with rankings. Cap rate compares the net rental income generated per year against the purchase price of the property. It’s a good indicator of a property’s earning power and a reliable way to determine where you might get a better return on your investment.
To calculate our cap rates, we started by looking at the median annual rental revenue for Evolve properties in 500+ markets. We also applied yearly expenses of 30% to reflect the costs associated with operating a vacation rental. We then divided that by the median home price on Zillow for properties in each market.
If you’re looking to purchase a vacation rental property, make sure you take a closer look at these areas. Your numbers may differ based on operating costs, property values, and other factors, but this list helps shine a light on promising locations for investors.
A new addition to our list, Maggie Valley is in the Smoky Mountains area outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
It tops our list with a strong cap rate of 17.5%. Driven by low real estate costs with a median price of $155,500 and a median income of $38,949 per year, the Maggie Valley area presents an appealing investment option.
Proximity to the region’s famed mountain range is the primary tourism draw in this area. And the natural resources provide year-round activities, with hiking in the summer, leaf peeping in the autumn, and skiing in the winter.
If you’re looking at this area for a potential investment, shop around for a property that has a nice outdoor area where guests can enjoy the surrounding mountain views. Our data also shows that homes with hot tubs, fire pits, and decks typically perform better than average.
Consistently a top vacation destination for American and international travelers, Florida is an obvious frontrunner for short-term rentals. The warm weather allows for year-round tourism and lower real estate costs leave plenty of room to generate a sizable rental income.
But with so many beach towns, where is the best place to buy in Florida?
St. Augustine rises above the rest in our research with a cap rate of 17%. The median home price is $209,100 and you can earn an estimated median revenue of $50,989 in this area.
That’s an attractive rate of return, and it has the potential to increase further when you have top amenities like a private pool, hot tub, and proximity to the beach.
Rich in history, outdoor recreation, and prime beach access, St. Augustine offers great vacation rental potential for investors.
Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville have been proving their weight in gold for years. These family-friendly vacation rental destinations have a high demand for accommodations ten months out of the year and they provide a steady source of rental income.
With relatively low housing prices and few restrictions for short-term rentals, it’s no surprise that this area has become a top destination for vacation rental investors. Cabins are the preferred type of housing for regional visitors, and we found that the median home price ranges from $162,000 to $202,300 across Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.
While the area is generally affordable, you might run into prices as high as $800,000 for larger (five bedrooms+) and more luxurious properties. Essential amenities for the Gatlinburg area are hot tubs, mountain views, and game rooms.
While the median for rental revenue is around $42,751, we do see six-figure revenue potential for larger properties in the area. If your rental is in good shape, with a desirable location and popular amenities, you stand a high chance of earning even more.
An hour down the coast from Galveston, this Texas town is known for beautiful beaches and a laid-back community. With few tourist traps or boardwalk shops, most Surfside Beach visitors spend their evenings cooking family dinners at home rather than hitting the town. That makes fully equipped vacation rentals all the more successful in this area.
We found the median home price for Surfside Beach was $136,500, which is a bargain compared to the stilted homes in the Galveston area that range from $200,000 to $400,000.
A median revenue of $29,321 gives this lesser-known area on the Gulf Coast an impressive cap rate of 15%.
If this coastal Texas town checks all the boxes for you, look for a property that offers ocean views and proximity to the beach. Fortunately, Seaside Beach is situated on a narrow tract of land, so beachfront real estate is not too hard to come by.
The Pocono Mountain region has been drawing tourists to its lakes and ski resorts for more than 100 years. With a strong demand for accommodations and a large inventory of real estate at affordable prices, it’s easy to see why this region is one of our top five places to buy a vacation rental.
The median home price in the Poconos ranges from $118,300 on the low end to $144,300 on the high end. With a property that has an open calendar, the median rental income you can expect to generate ranges from $25,058 all the way up to $40,278 per year.
We found that results vary from town to town, but we see the strongest returns with properties in Tunkhannock Township, Tannersville, and Pocono Lake.
Large lakefront properties that can accommodate a group perform best in this market. It’s also a good idea to look for houses that are updated or that you can renovate after purchasing. This traditional market has many outdated properties, and you can beat out the competition and charge a higher nightly rate with a home that has modern kitchens, bathrooms, and furnishings.
Situated in the Brainerd Lakes area north of the Twin Cities, vacation rentals in the Pequot Lakes area are hugely popular in summer months. Even better, they get bookings during the slow winter season for holidays and weekend retreats.
This market provides advantages to buyers in the Midwest because it’s a great investment opportunity where you can make strong returns, but it’s also close to home. That makes regular maintenance easier and offers the added benefit of having a second home for your personal use when you don’t have guests in residence.
While the median home price is $204,600 for properties in this area, larger homes that sleep eight or more people tend to see the best success. So it pays to invest in a larger property if you have the budget.
Something to consider with an investment in the Pequot Lakes area or a similar market is that rentals here tend to have a shorter season. With cold winter months, you face some pressure to hit your revenue goals during the high season, which requires smart pricing and aggressive marketing strategies.
Spanning two hundred miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley is an outdoor oasis. Visitors enjoy exploring National Parks and Forests, outdoor sports (skiing, fishing, golfing, canoeing and more) and a segment of the famed Appalachian Trail.
With an area that large, home prices and rental income will obviously vary. Still, the median home price in the markets that made our list is $227,500, earning $37,763 per year in estimated annual revenue.
To increase your income potential, look closely at the four-season resort areas of Massanutten and Wintergreen. They can expand your booking season via snow sports in the winter and water parks during the peak summer booking window.
Profit-driving amenities include hot tubs, a deck with a view (and a grill), and game tables like billiards and foosball. If you’re looking to invest in this area, the closer a property is to Massanutten Resort or Shenandoah National Park, the better.
With theme parks, specialty museums, shopping, and hundreds of shows per year, there’s no shortage of things to do in Branson. This Ozark getaway is a family-friendly vacation spot that has caught the eye of investors who want reliable returns and a lower price point.
The median home price hovers around $145,000, making this an affordable place to buy a vacation home. Our data revealed that rentals in Branson generate $24,062 in rental revenue per year at the median for a 11.6% cap rate.
The tourism season spans from March to December, so you have the opportunity to book ten months out of the year and reach an impressive occupancy.
Another benefit of investing in this area is that there are few regulations standing in the way of vacation rentals. Some areas west of Branson may come with restrictions, but the area is generally friendly toward short-term rentals.
The vacation rental inventory is a mix of condos, cabins, and homes. So no matter your budget, you can find something in this market that will perform well. Amenities that can help you succeed include proximity to popular attractions (the Shows District, Table Rock Lake, and Silver Dollar City), decks, and lake or mountain views.
For the third year in a row, Myrtle Beach makes our top-ten list. The seaside town is known for its 60-mile stretch of beaches, as well as theme parks, museums, and shopping. It’s also home to festivals, bike rallies, car shows and other events that draw crowds and drive up demand for accommodations.
Yet, Myrtle Beach is a budget-friendly place to invest. Condos frequently sell for under $100,000, and Zillow data shows the median home price is around $144,700.
If you buy in this market, beach proximity is important. However, unlike Surfside Beach, you don’t have to be on the water to be successful. Rental properties within one or two miles of the beach will also book and perform well.
When you’re buying a condo in a resort or community, be careful with association fees and restrictions. Higher fees typically get you nice facilities, upkeep, pools, and other amenities that are attractive to guests, but you may pay a lot for those add-ons.
Hot Springs, Arkansas is named for Hot Springs National Park, a treasured natural feature that draws visitors for its mineral-rich water.
A prime benefit of investing in this market is that your money stretches here. The median home price is $148,800 and generates a healthy $24,425 per year at the median for estimated annual revenue. That leaves plenty of flexibility to pocket the income or pay off your investment quickly.
For the best returns in this market, look for properties close to downtown Hot Springs or on Lake Hamilton. In our experience, waterfront homes tend to achieve higher occupancy rates and command better nightly rates than properties farther from the action.
Lake views, updated interiors, and dock access are additional amenities that can improve your performance in Hot Springs.
As always, the answer depends on your budget, your revenue goals, and your personal preferences.
You might want to purchase in a proven market like Gatlinburg or Poconos even if that means stiffer competition to get bookings. Or, you might want to buy in an area that isn’t as saturated, like Hot Springs or Surfside Beach, where you get more for your money.
We always encourage investors to think about where they’d like to visit. One of the key benefits you get from a vacation rental is that you get a second home for yourself. Where would you want to stay?
This list is a great place to start your consideration process, but it’s by no means definitive. There are many popular destinations that didn’t make our list. Think of this as a snapshot of the markets that you might want to explore if you’re looking to get the biggest return on your investment.
If you want more information, Evolve is constantly updating resources like these to help you better understand the vacation rental market:
If you’ve already chosen a property and need to get your vacation rental off the ground, let us help.
With Evolve, you get everything you need to start a successful vacation rental: professional photos, a custom listing, competitive rates, vacation rental expertise, and full-time teams to support you.
There are no upfront costs and you pay just a low 10% fee per booking. Learn more about our services and contact us to see if your home qualifies.
Have you ever thought about investing in a vacation home to use a short-term rental? We asked Daniela Andreevska at Mashvisor to share some insight on why real estate investors are wise to consider this avenue as they get started with their first real estate investments.
Looking for the best way to make money outside your 9-to-5 job? How about real estate investing?
It can be intimidating to dive headfirst into the world of real estate investment, but buying a vacation rental home is one avenue that’s gaining a lot of popularity. We think it might just be the best way to enter the real estate business and become a property investor.
There are many benefits to buying a vacation rental and we have put together a list of the top reasons that we think you should consider this as your first step in real estate investment.
If you’re a first-time real estate investor, you are probably considering all the options and thinking about what’s best for you.
Buying a vacation rental home has one clear advantage: It can serve dual purposes. You can use it as a second home and spend your own vacations there with your family, and then rent it out to guests the rest of the year.
Buying an investment property for the sole purpose of renting it out long-term does not give you this option.
One of the major advantages of real estate investing in general, and investing in rental properties in particular, is the fact that you gain a source of steady income.
How? Through rental income.
The idea is that you will be renting out your second home to guests when you aren’t using it. You’ll be making money without having to necessarily buy an “investment” property. After all, your vacation home is your second home. It just happens to make money on the side.
When you buy a vacation home and use it as a short-term rental, the money you make from bookings actually helps you pay the mortgage and other expenses (property tax, insurance, maintenance, and repairs) for the place where you spend your vacations.
In addition to making money in the short run, a vacation rental home also makes money – potentially a lot of it – in the long term.
A second home is a real estate property, and real estate generally appreciates in value over time. When you are ready to sell your vacation rental property, you can usually sell it at a higher price and cash in on the profit. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything to enjoy this benefit. Natural real estate appreciation will take care of it.
If you want to make even more money when selling your property, you can make modifications and improvements to push up the market value of your vacation rental (known as forced appreciation).
Similar to your primary home or an investment property, a second home also provides tax deductions. These apply to mortgage payments, property tax, rental income, insurance premium, utilities, and other rental expenses.
However, the situation with a vacation rental can get somewhat complicated depending on the number of days you live in your property and the number of days you rent it out to guests. So, if you decide to buy a vacation rental, we recommend that you work with a professional accountant and/or a real estate attorney to assure that you are taking maximum advantage of tax deductions without breaking any tax laws.
Investing in vacation rental exposes you to lower risk than other types of real estate investment. First, vacation homes are in top tourist destinations, so you can attract lots of guests, reach high occupancy rates, and charge a high nightly rate.
The combined effect is high rental income. And rental income is how investors make money from their rental properties.
One way to reduce your risk even further is to choose a location and a property that works as either a traditional, long-term rental or as a short-term rental. If you find that you have a low occupancy rate, low rental income, and negative cash flow, you have the option to switch strategies and become a traditional landlord.
And in the worst case scenario, if a long-term rental strategy also fails to bring you a positive cash flow, you still have a second home to use with your family. This will save you the cost of renting hotels or other people’s vacation homes until your property has appreciated enough in value to sell it. After all, if your vacation rental is located in a popular destination, appreciation should not take more than a few years to kick in.
No matter how many real estate books you read or how many real estate classes you attend, you will not become an expert real estate investor until you actually buy an income property and start managing it.
Buying a vacation rental home provides you with an easy entry into the world of real estate investment because it’s often less stressful than other real estate investment strategies, such as becoming a full-time landlord, fix-and-flip, wholesaling, etc.
While some people take on vacation rental management as a full-time job, you don’t have to do this in order to start making money in real estate. It’s feasible to make owning a vacation rental a part-time job that doesn’t take up too much of your time, especially if you use a vacation rental management service.
Management is a major concern for inexperienced investors, and it can potentially turn into a real nightmare for first-time vacation rental owners. Imagine having to clean your property, change the sheets, wash the towels, and refill the toiletries between each guest – sometimes multiple times a week – all the while working your 9-to-5 job.
Most owners don’t have time for that. Instead of handling it themselves, they’re hiring property managers or vacation rental management services to take over those time-consuming duties. Then they are free to oversee the aspects of vacation rental management they want, like talking to guests, making recommendations, and collecting rental income.
Investing in a vacation rental home is an easy entry point to real estate investment that provides endless opportunities to learn and carries lower risk than other options. But if you are a beginner real estate investor, you might be wondering how to go about the whole process of buying a vacation home as an investment property.
Here’s a list of the main factors you need to consider as you look for vacation rental properties:
Experts say that “location, location, and location” are the three most important factors in a successful real estate investment, and they are not mistaken. When buying a vacation rental home, choose places where other travelers – besides you and your family and friends – would enjoy. To check out some of the best places to buy a vacation home to start investing in real estate in 2018 based on data from Mashvisor, click here.
Regulations on short-term rentals have been tightening in many places around the U.S., so once you’ve chosen a location for buying your second home, make sure you will be allowed to use the property as a short-term rental and make sure you won’t be taxed too heavily for it.
Before buying your income property, conduct some real estate market analysis to make sure you’re not overpaying for your second home. Real estate comps are the only way to assure you can get positive cash flow from renting out your vacation home on a short-term basis.
Compare the rental property you’re considering buying with other vacation rentals around the area to see how you can stay competitive while making money in real estate. Predictive analytics can also help.
Mashvisor’s rental income calculator allows you to conduct all the necessary analyses you need in order to make the best real estate investment decisions quickly and easily.
More people are buying vacation rentals as their first real estate investments because it’s a sound financial decision. The demand for vacation rentals is at an all-time high and continues to grow. There’s low risk, because at the end of the day, you have a second home where you can vacation for free. And with new cost-effective vacation rental management systems, you have access to the help you maximize the return on your investment.
Daniela Andreevska is the Content Marketing Director at Mashvisor. Mashvisor helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties.
On a road trip, the adventure changes minute by minute. You might start your drive on a country road with the windows rolled down — and a few miles later, find yourself winding past rocky cliffs and trickling streams. The road trip is the essential way for families to travel because it’s safe, allows for quality time together, and gives you a chance to see more of your surroundings.
Our favorite family road trip ideas will transport you from the pristine alpine stretches of Colorado to the white-sand beaches of South Carolina. Since you’re taking the kids along, each custom itinerary includes approximately four hours of driving or less per travel day. You’ll also find suggestions of family vacation rentals that’ll help you rest up for the next stop.
Start Here: Your Colorado road trip begins in Denver. While you’re in town, stop by Hammond’s Candy Factory to savor local chocolate or check out the whimsical Adventure Forest at the Children’s Museum of Denver. The Dairy Block is a locally loved place to grab a bite for the kids, a brew for you, and explore the hidden music features that line the alley behind Milk Market.
Get a city feel for a few days before you head out to the mountains (and acclimate to the elevation) by staying at one of these family vacation rentals in Denver.
Approximately 1hr, 13 minutes from Denver
Shortly out from Denver, you’ll start to feel like you’re on another planet — particularly when you pull up to Garden of the Gods. Mesmerizing red rocks tower into the sky at this park that’s a geological wonder. It’s free to explore here, and there are plenty of easy, wide-open trails to take in the scenery. Visit at sunrise or sunset for extraordinary views (and be sure to bring your camera along for a group shot).
If you decide to stay in Colorado Springs for a night or two, head to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where you can have an experience that will be fodder for the next day’s drive: hand-feeding a giraffe. This open-air park lets you get up close with animals or soar above them on a ski lift.
Colorado Springs is brimming with colorful, historic homes that make for a unique stay. This Colorado Springs family vacation rental offers a charming exterior that feels modern inside, plus a nearby park where the kids can play.
Approximately 2hrs, 30 minutes from Colorado Springs
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a surreal playground, home to miles of rolling sand. You’ll feel lost in the scenery as you hike here, sometimes without another soul in sight. Sand Dunes is also one of the few Dark Sky Parks in the state, inviting you to peer into the galaxies and witness a clear, bright evening of stars.
Be sure to bring your swimsuit along if your Colorado road trip falls in the early summer months, when the crisp waters of Medano Creek race straight through the park. And for even more family road trip ideas in the great outdoors, check out our feature on national parks.
The park is a little remote (but trust us, it’s worth the drive). This family vacation rental in Crestone, CO, is about 58 minutes away. Experience eclectic, adobe design and a cozy open layout that helps you stay connected. The yard is fenced-in and landscaped with a table set up for family dinners al fresco.
Approximately 4 hrs from Great Sand Dunes National Park
This will be the longest day of driving on your Colorado family road trip, but the route to Glenwood Springs is breathtaking. Stop and stretch your legs at Twin Lakes or grab a quick bite in Leadville, a historic small town filled with old-fashioned storefronts.
Once you’ve settled in Glenwood Springs, find an adrenaline rush at Glenwood Caverns, America’s only mountain-top theme park. Step underground with a tour of the caves, ride family-friendly rides and roller coasters, or feel your stomach drop as you plummet down 3,400 feet on an alpine roller coaster you control with panoramic mountain views.
After the park, wind down in the tranquil waters of Glenwood Springs Hot Springs, where you’ll enjoy complete relaxation for you and waterslides for the kids. Once you’ve found your calm, enjoy a stroll through the town and stop by Chocolate Moose Ice Cream Parlor.
This light-filled, modern vacation rental cabin right in Glenwood Springs has enormous windows that welcome the mountains in — but you can also admire them from the immersive outdoor porch.
Approximately 2 hrs, 15 minutes from Glenwood Springs
Begin your stay in Breckenridge by visiting the enchanted troll waiting for you in the forest. Just a short walk from the parking lot, you’ll encounter Isak Heartstone, a friendly, 15-foot sculpture crafted from wood.
Breckenridge is best known for its revered ski slopes set amid a Colorado winter wonderland. Sign the kids up for a ski class if it’s their first time, stick to a day out on the sleds on Fraction Drive, or admire the views from the height of a gondola. When you’re ready for warmth, stop by Cabin Coffee for a Texas Turtle cocoa or grab a bite at one of these family-friendly restaurants in the area.
Colorado locals know that Breckenridge holds a different magic in summer when the snow melts and the hills transform into lush paradise. Hike Breckenridge to encounter waterfalls, towering vistas, and alpine lakes, or spend your time in the idyllic downtown area, perfect for passing a slow afternoon.
After you’ve been driving for a few days, you’ll probably want to soak in a hot tub. This sprawling family vacation cabin in Breckenridge has a tub surrounded by forest views. With giant windows, a crackling fire, and upscale amenities, you’ll feel like you’ve rented a private mountain chalet.
Return to Denver (and start planning the next road trip).
Start Here: Begin your family road trip in Charlotte, North Carolina. Before you head out, stretch your legs with a scenic stroll together at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, grab gourmet scoops at Jeni’s, and admire the colorful murals that brighten the city with this guide to Charlotte’s street art.
Approximately 3 hrs, 48 minutes from Charlotte
Hilton Head is the oasis that comes to mind when you picture that classic beach family vacation: slow-rolling crystal waves, white sands, and palm trees. Coligny Beach is a prime destination for lounging in the sun while you’re here — and it has swings, gazebos, and a splash pad so everyone can take in the surroundings.
As soon as you unpack, check out Hilton Head as it’s meant to be explored: by bike. The area offers 60 miles of bike paths and 100 miles of protected pathways that will carry you past elegant beaches and natural wonders. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the area, spend an afternoon at The Sandbox, an Interactive Children’s Museum, where the kids can get a glimpse of what it’s like to pilot a plane.
Come evening, embark on a sunset cruise, snap photos of the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse, or dine overlooking Port Royal Sound beneath a canopy of lights at Hudson’s Seafood House (which has a 12-and-under menu, too). Then, bring your vacation nightcap back to your vacation rental with you and sip local spirits from Hilton Head’s first craft distillery after the kids tire out.
This Hilton Head family vacation rental is a win-win for everyone — impeccable, seaside-inspired design for you and a playful nautical-themed bedroom for the kids. Hit the beach together in the mornings, then spend time sunning on the inviting outdoor patio here.
Approximately 2 hrs from Hilton Head
Once you’ve wandered through Charleston, SC, you’ll never want to leave. Home to cobblestone streets that evoke the ambiance of Europe, decadent Southern architecture, and pastel-hued Georgian row homes of Rainbow Row, Charleston offers enchantment around every corner.
Grab breakfast and coffee at Miller’s All Day, then check out the waterfront park, where you’ll find a giant pineapple fountain and benches waiting for you. If you’re looking to shop, the place to do it is King Street (one of our favorite stops is Candlefish, where fragrance becomes an art form). After a day in the city, take a drive and step into a fairytale with a visit to The Angel Oak, the oldest oak tree east of the Mississippi.
The Charleston Blonde has rounded up a complete guide of where you need to nosh — from Gospel Brunch at Halls Chophouse to fried chicken and oysters to write home about at trendy Leon’s. Before you leave Charleston, be sure to visit Callie’s, where you can savor everything from a birthday-cake biscuit to pimento cheese biscuits.
Relaxation awaits at this welcoming green Charleston family vacation rental. Here, you can stay close to Charleston’s best neighborhoods like the French Quarter — which means you’re a short drive from some of the best meals you’ve ever tasted. We also have plenty of homes on Kiawah Island, a family-friendly resort area a little way out of Charleston that’s more of a quiet escape.
Approximately 2 hrs from Charleston
Wind down after a day on the road by soaking in the sun. Myrtle Beach stretches for 60 miles of warm sand, beckoning you to take a long walk, swim in the sea, or if you’ve brought a dog, splash your way along the shore at Huntington Beach.
When you’re ready to cool off, head to the retro Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum, where you can pay an hourly fee to play as many pinball games as you can squeeze in. After you’ve each won a few games, visit The Market Common, where you’ll experience some of Myrtle Beach’s best boutiques and restaurants. If you’re hungry, grab a table at Tupelo Honey, which plates Southern revival fare imagined by a James Beard semifinalist.
Arrive at a candy-colored vacation rental made for family stays. You’re a short drive here from the heart of Myrtle Beach’s stunning coastline here — and when you’re not out exploring, you can take a dip in the pool at this affordable escape.
The drive ends in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the area is worth checking out a little longer. Find a Charlotte family vacation rental here, and rest easy knowing it’ll be 100% ready for you.
Start Here: Your midwest family road trip begins in St. Louis, Missouri, where you can take a tram ride 630 feet up to the tallest monument in the United States — the Gateway Arch. Sample a little local flavor before your first family road trip stop with toasted ravioli at Zia’s, frozen custard at Ted Drewes, a walk around The Loop.
Find family vacation rentals perfect for the start of your getaway right here.
Approximately 3 hrs, 48 minutes from St. Louis
Branson is alive with Vegas-style shows and theme parks, making it a memorable stop on your midwest family road trip. At Silver Dollar City, you can feel the wind in your hair on the world’s steepest wooden coaster, splash your way down a raft drop ride, or check out the water park, which is home to 13 acres of slides.
For a nostalgia-filled afternoon, check out the World’s Largest Toy Museum and explore decades of history by way of dolls, cars, and memorabilia. If you’re up for Branson at new heights, you can get a bird’s-eye view from the Branson Ferris Wheel. At night, this attraction turns into a music and light show as it carries you above the city.
Branson isn’t just bright lights and thrill rides — you can also enjoy the quiet of nature with a swim or paddle board in the clear waters of Table Rock Lake or a visit to the 165 Scenic Overlook (a postcard view that’s a great first or last stop).
This welcoming Branson vacation rental condo is family-friendly, affordable, and within a short drive of the best sights. There’s a small patio for sipping your morning coffee and a community pool that’s perfect for a dip after Silver Dollar City.
Approximately 3 hrs, 15 minutes from Branson
If you or the kids like barbecue, Kansas City is a must-stop for your midwest family road trip. Head to Arthur Bryant’s (the line is worth it), and if you feel like doing a deeper dive, there’s even an app for Kansas City barbecue.
Experience a stunning chandelier and soaring ceilings at the historic Union Station, which was revived in 1999 and now hosts a Planetarium, exhibits by National Geographic, giant-screen movies, and more. When the kids think they’ve seen it all, tour LEGOLAND Discovery Center together, where they can experience a replica of the city they’ll never forget.
When you’re ready to head back to your vacation rental home, hit City Market to pick up fresh flowers and produce to snack on during your stay.
This Kansas City family vacation rental is the place to wind down with a good book after a day of exploring. Spend afternoons sipping lemonade in the private yard or cook food and eat family dinner in the chic dining room.
Approximately 2 hrs, 35 minutes from Kansas City
Watch the horizon line turn into an endless deep blue at Lake of the Ozarks. You’ll want to see this breathtaking area from every vantage, so be sure to spend time out on a boat in Lake of the Ozarks.
When you’re ready for adventure, head underground at Bridal Cave or roam the ruins of a castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. In the evening, relax back at your vacation rental and play some games surrounded by the fresh lake air with pizza from Pappo’s.
Sleep right on the waterfront in this stunning Lake of the Ozarks family vacation rental that comes with two private boat slips. The furnished deck here is the place to be, whether you’re sipping morning coffee or evening cocoa under the stars.
Head back to St. Louis and toast to the adventure with a craft microbrew root beer at Fitz’s.
After a day of sightseeing, you want to arrive at a place you can count on to be great. That’s why every stay on our site is backed by the Rest Easy Promise — meaning that your vacation rental will always be safe, clean, and ready for you and your family.
Read This Next: If you’re looking for more family road trip ideas, adventure out to these miniature marvels or check out our 2021 vacation planner with something for every season.
As a homeowner, picture the perfect cabin getaway: snowy mountain tops, roaring fires, lakefront views, rustic charm. It’s an escape to a less cookie-cutter world, offering something condos or houses don’t: an experiential feel.
Suffice it to say, this level of character makes a cabin a good investment, one that’s uniquely lucrative for vacation rental. And there’s never been a better time to buy.
Not only did Evolve bookings per cabin listing increase by 62 percent in 2020 (with no decrease in average length of stay), but many of the best places to buy a vacation rental in 2021 happen to be cabin-centric locales. Need we say more?
In This Article:
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Cabin
Types of Cabins to Buy
When to Buy a Cabin
Where to Buy a Cabin
How to Buy a Cabin
While cabins have incredible income potential, these are the things to know before jumping into an investment.
Highly sought-after vacation destinations can offer impressive returns on investment, but you first need to consider whether the costs tied to your annual revenue are worth it. Our Real Estate Services (RES) team says it’s best to look for markets with lower list prices, ample inventory, and worthwhile cap rates. Then, use our vacation rental income calculator to properly estimate profit margins with all expenses factored in.
Great news: the vast majority of cabin rental markets have dual-seasonality. If you’re purchasing in the Poconos or Blue Ridge Mountains, for instance, you’ll see both summer and winter travel demand — with interest running into the shoulder seasons, too. (Fall foliage can bring in a lot of leaf-peeping travelers.)
The exception is a selection of ski towns with little summer presence. Those cabins can still be a good investment though, so long as you prepare for your vacation rental to have lower occupancy once the slopes close.
To help you zero in on the busiest time(s) of year for a variety of cabin-friendly markets, browse our Vacation Rental Performance Reports. Then talk with our RES team to get a more tailored look at your investment options.
Cabins carry a lot of old-world character, but with that comes the risk of extra maintenance before your new home is rentable. Our RES team encourages thorough inspections before purchasing, so the wood, insulation, bug infestations (inevitable in woodsier areas), and other elements of the cabin can be properly assessed.
While the idea of owning a remote cabin might sound like a vacationer’s dream, guests won’t book the home if the roads are impossible to navigate. Same goes if a heavy snow falls but plows can’t make it to your property. Our RES team says it’s key to make sure the home you choose is easily accessible by both guests and vetted service partners at a moment’s notice.
The first consideration when choosing a cabin type is the market you’re most interested in. A-frame cabins, for instance, are more common in northern areas like the Poconos, Catskills, and New England mountains, whereas more classic log cabins are found farther south in the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges.
The second factor is price point. If you can afford a large family-style cabin, our RES team says that’s the type of cabin to buy every time. Doing so opens up the opportunity for traveling groups, and you’re likely to see greater returns from including the upscale amenities these larger luxury homes tend to offer. (That said, even one-room log cabins have the potential to make impressive annual revenue if you furnish and market the home to elevate its rustic charm.)
Here’s a quick look at the appeal of some popular types of cabins to buy, and how they might affect your bottom line.
Quaint and rustic, classic log cabins (like this Poconos cabin) typically attract outdoorsy travelers. They also tend to be more energy efficient, since the thick log exterior traps heat and keeps the home toastier after nightfall. Log cabins tend to be more rare, too, so scoring one as a vacation rental owner has extra earning potential.
The stunning architectural impact and massive windows that let in loads of natural light are the biggest draws for travelers booking A-frame cabins. (This A-frame in Leadville, CO is particularly wow-worthy.) The downside: that distinct, sloping roof often means there’s a lack of conventional storage space. You’ll need to be creative in how you keep your cabin stocked, ensuring all essential vacation rental supplies are easily accessible without cluttering the clean lines of each room.
With sprawling floor plans, family-sized cabins (like this show-stopper in Pigeon Forge, TN) give groups the ability to enjoy each other’s company with enough room to spread out. Most are equipped with luxury amenities (think: hot tubs, fire pits, and wrap-around porches) to keep guests entertained, meaning you can typically charge more per night. Just remember the upkeep for a larger cabin can also increase your expenses.
Perfect for traveling couples or solo getaways, one-room cabins (like this remote cabin in Broken Bow, OK) foster a simple, unfussy experience. They also tend to have significantly lower maintenance costs, as a lack of luxury amenities can all be a part of that getting-off-the-grid ambiance.
This varies depending on the market. In ski towns, it’s good to have your vacation rental up and running before winter peak season. For summer-heavy markets, capturing that warm-weather travel increase with spring readiness is key. Of course, for cabins with dual seasonality, there are multiple opportunities to capitalize on rising booking trends.
That said, current vacation rental owners planning to sell know when those peak seasons happen, too. Meaning most won’t put their homes on the market in the lead up to busy months.
That’s why our RES team recommends looking for cabins to buy in the off months, just after a market’s high season dies down. This is when you’ll find the most inventory available, along with lower list prices.
Plus, properly furnishing and marketing a vacation rental can take a few months, so an off-season purchase gives you more runway to perfectly prepare for the five-star guest experiences that maximize income.
Another key consideration that will determine if a cabin is a good investment: location, location, location!
If a mountain cabin sparks your interest, our RES team notes ski towns like Snowshoe, WV and Massanutten, VA as the best in the country for more seasonal investments. North Conway, NH is also an up-and-coming spot for New England vacationers craving that woodsy feel, and Maggie Valley, NC is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
Lake cabins see a ton of success in destinations like The Poconos, PA or Granbury, TX. Try Arrowhead Lake, Lake Pocono, or Lake Wallenpaupack if the former catches your eye, and Lake Granbury if the latter is of interest.
Regardless of the specific market you land on, our RES team says to also keep these other essentials in mind when shopping for your ideal cabin investment.
Unsurprisingly, the best-performing cabin rentals offer memorable nature views, be it a lake, landscape of trees, or stunning mountain scenery.
This means proximity to ski slopes or snowshoe trails for mountain cabins, or swimming and boat rentals for lakefront rentals. While you can set higher rates with a waterfront or slopeside property, you’ll likely see lower list prices a couple miles from seasonal attractions. Our RES team can help you weigh revenue against expenses to choose a home with great earning potential and a faster recoup of your investment.
If the market you’re eyeing has winter interest, travelers often look for homes with fireplaces and access to expert snow removal. If there’s summer demand, they want a great outdoor space, grills, and even an outdoor shower. There’s also the cabin experience: hammocks, a bike station, or a fire pit can all help capture the vibe of a cabin getaway that many travelers will happily pay for.
When it’s officially time to search cabins for sale, finding the perfect one can be a minefield to navigate on your own. Our Real Estate Services team takes the guesswork and heavy lifting out of the equation by helping you:
Of course, if you want proof of performance upfront, our listings for sale page features homes that already have a proven track record of vacation rental success as Evolve properties.
Frankly, there’s never been a better time to invest in a cabin. We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in vacation rental income — and we’d love to help you.
A guest recently checked out of your vacation home, and when it came time to leave a review, it wasn’t all that stellar. Perhaps they complained during their stay and, despite your best efforts to resolve the situation, they gave you one star anyway. Or maybe you’ve been blindsided by the negative feedback, and would have jumped into action the moment you had known!
Regardless, getting a one-star (or even two- or three-star) review can seriously damage the reputation of any vacation rental — and ultimately hurt how much income you earn each year.
For first-time renters with brand new listings, the emergence of less-than-lovely guest feedback paints a negative picture of your home for browsing travelers, as there isn’t anything positive to counterbalance what they’re reading. Even longtime vacation rental owners can take a hit if those bad Airbnb reviews start to pile up.
It all begs the question: What do I do now?
First, take a deep breath. Next, stick with us. We’ll walk you through what the damage could look like and — more importantly — how to respond to the situation to get your home back in high-performing five-star territory.
The sky won’t fall down, but you may see an immediate dip in your property’s listing reputation. If the bad review puts your rating below a certain average on Airbnb, your listing will be paused for a few days — meaning it won’t appear for travelers in Airbnb search results, nor will it show up if someone navigates to the direct link.
Whether your property is just starting to make a name for itself or has been accepting vacationers for years, too many bad reviews on Airbnb can also result in complete removal from the marketplace. (Vrbo and Booking.com have similar consequences when negative reviews are tied to cleanliness.)
The bottom line here: when that bad review rolls in, it’s time to spring into action. Your home isn’t doomed, but it requires an immediate, hospitality-driven reaction that addresses the issue head-on.
When a guest review lands on Airbnb (or Vrbo), homeowners have 14 days to respond (other marketplaces have a bit more leniency). In an effort to maximize this window of opportunity, Evolve homeowners are always notified the minute a new review is public. Use this time to get three vital things done:
Replying to negative feedback in the heat of the moment can do more harm than good, as your words may come across sharper than intended. It’s important to remember that once a homeowner response goes live on Airbnb, it cannot be edited. (Other sites do allow edits, however.)
On Airbnb specifically, star ratings aren’t revealed next to the reviews themselves, so if the content of a lackluster review is neutral, our Guest Reviews Team recommends leaving it alone. In that situation, you haven’t been given any context for the poor rating (and neither have browsing travelers), so your public response could ultimately be what draws negative attention and turns people off from booking your home.
If that bad review is accompanied by negative commentary, however, use the critique to understand where your property may fall short for travelers so you can craft a thoughtful response. Perhaps the review alludes to a musty smell in the kitchen, or maybe your guests found the beds uncomfortable. If you scroll through all of your reviews, you might even discover that the happiest guests mentioned these grievances in passing, but were less bothered by them.
In this scenario, it is important to respond. (Again, after you’ve had a moment to emotionally detach from the review.) A lack of communication puts potential bookers under the impression that you don’t care about solving issues — and that their experience won’t be any different. So absorb the feedback and prepare to write back, because your feedback may say more about your commitment to hospitality than the negative review did.
Now that you’re ready to respond, it’s important you assure the slighted guest you’ve heard their complaints while keeping future bookings top of mind. Make it known that you’re taking action to right the wrong by clearly outlining the steps you’re actively taking, so that every traveler coming to your property (even them, if they’re open to it!) will receive the five-star guest experience they deserve.
That said, responding gracefully is often easier said than done. It’s likely you take a lot of pride in your property (as you should!), so it’s easy to let your emotions take over. That’s why, when you work with Evolve, you’ll have a team of gifted writers to help post on your behalf. You simply give us any insight you have into the situation, and we craft an effective response that addresses the previous guest’s concerns and optimizes future booking performance.
If you have new guests checking in next weekend — and a fresh opportunity to secure an amazing, review-worthy experience — this is your chance to put glowing feedback at the top of your review section, ultimately bumping that bad Airbnb review to the bottom of the pack.
First, take that plan of action you laid out when assessing the negative feedback, and get as much of it completed as you can before the next guest arrives. If the complaint was that the cabinets were bare, for example, or that the bathrooms were poorly-stocked, invest in essentials for those spaces. Put spices, coffee, extra dishware, and cleaning supplies in the kitchen. Keep hand soap, towels, shampoo, and conditioner in every bathroom. Guests should feel like they can come into your home and instantly decompress, rather than having to go on a hunt for supplies or make a run to the grocery store.
From there, be proactive about organizing special treats that take your vacation rental to the next level in hospitality. Consider putting out a nice assortment of gifts, like a basket of local goods and a personalized note. Or provide a welcome book to make their time in your area memorable. These small acts of kindness show guests you’ll go the extra mile to make them feel right at home.
If you don’t have new guests coming anytime soon — or only have a few reviews in total — you may want to consider dropping your rates temporarily to encourage bookings. Think about it: if travelers are deciding between your property and one with the same amenities, the same pricing, but consistent five-star reviews, they’re going to choose your competition. Adjusting your pricing creates a differentiator that’ll help get guests through the door to bring in redemptive five-star reviews faster.
This is tricky, though. How much of a drop in price is too much? And when should you return to your normal pricing? Luckily, a partnership with Evolve takes these questions off your plate. With our SmartRates pricing strategy, we consistently adjust nightly rates to meet traveler demand and keep your home competitive year-round. Our Revenue Analysts also conduct in-depth analyses of every home and market, so you never have to worry about the nuances of optimizing your listing.
Overall, it’s not just about responding to the moment or bumping one-star reviews to the bottom of your property page. Even in your most profitable booking seasons, it’s about creating a sustainable, dynamic, data-backed solution.
With your five-star response completed, now it’s time to prevent bad reviews from ever appearing on your listing again. Guaranteeing great reviews from future guests requires a hotel-like five-star experience for every stay.
The big-ticket item: make sure your home is the gold standard of cleanliness. Download cleaning checklists and distribute them to your cleaning service partners to operationalize the process, and ensure your home is spotless for every guest arrival.
Next, address any outstanding issues from your action plan that you weren’t able to tackle just yet. If a guest mentioned larger disappointments, for example, consider upgrading the parts of your home that left them underwhelmed. Buy fresh bedding or brand new mattresses to promote super-comfy nights of deep sleep. Invest in upgraded appliances, furniture, and decor. And be sure to swiftly fix or replace anything that’s broken, like a faulty dishwasher, temperamental thermostat, or finicky entertainment system.
Sometimes, guests also feel upset when the home doesn’t live up to expectations. If your property listing boasts stunning mountain views but guests have to lean over the far side of your deck to catch a glimpse, they’ll think they were duped — and so your listing may need some revisions. At Evolve, our Product Marketing Team uses their expertise to proactively ensure every listing is enticing yet accurate, so you can focus on crafting the five-star experience that exceeds properly-set expectations.
A bad review on Airbnb and other marketplace sites means you might take a hit, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your vacation rental. With years of experience in the industry, Evolve’s customer service-focused teams are dedicated to helping you recover — and to boosting your home’s performance for the long-haul.
We’ll help you respond to bad reviews with grace and precision, and guide you while making the home adjustments needed to prevent future negative feedback. We’ll also streamline your vacation rental management from start to finish, so nothing falls through the cracks again.
A partnership with Evolve means total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. We also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income — and we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.
Many trips are about the destination, but tiny travel is all about the home. These miniature marvels are a dream. They allow for a truly immersive experience, often feature soaring windows, and their cozy, intentional atmosphere is a lesson in craftsmanship.
Now, you can try out the tiny home lifestyle by way of a vacation rental. Embark on a virtual tour of our favorite treehouse tiny homes, little cottages, and escapes by the sea. We’re leaving our definition of “tiny home” a bit more open-ended to allow for small-group travel — but we’ve also featured plenty of stays best fit for one or two guests.
Surround yourself with an expanse of trees and the vast night sky. These tiny houses invite you to wind down in the quiet of the great outdoors.
Get lost in mesmerizing ocean views from a romantic vacation rental that towers above Mendocino, CA. Giant windows welcome the California sunshine, and exposed wood beams bring the outdoors into your home. Soak your bones in the hot tub after a day of discovering local hikes and hot springs, then enjoy a nightcap of the wine Mendocino is known for next to the gas wood stove.
This tiny treehouse waits for you in the tiny town of Valley Head, AL — home to about 1,000 people. Step into a farmhouse-style hideaway that features infinite thoughtful touches, including a four-post bed crafted from wood. Heat the chiminea on the balcony, admire the lush surroundings, and head home with a new souvenir from the on-site pottery studio.
Arrive at a bungalow-inspired treehouse set along Hilton Head’s dramatic shores. Wall-to-wall windows peer out over the ocean, a reminder that it’s just a short walk to crashing waves and soft sands. Floor-to-ceiling windows continue in the bedroom, which sits right over paradise (making movie nights here exceptionally luxurious). When you’re ready for dinner, grill burgers out on the deck, drink in the 360-degree views, and take a sunset swim in the Atlantic.
This mint-green cabin in Broken Bow is built for connection. Outside, you’ll discover several places to catch up on the day — whether it’s next to a crackling fire, nestled in a custom-built seating area, or on the front porch with a cup of tea. Though it’s a little place, this whimsical sanctuary sleeps up to seven guests, making it a great getaway for a close-knit group of friends looking to kayak Broken Bow Lake or break out the board games.
Honorable Mentions: This forest-green vacation rental in Maggie Valley, NC, offers a dreamy entrance that opens up into neverending trees. Or, opt for this affordable tiny cabin rental in Bryson City, NC, and admire the Smokies from every angle in the hot tub.
You won’t want to leave these tiny home vacation rentals because you’ll already have the best view. Toast to the day right on the waterfront. When night comes in, decadent, uninterrupted sleep is yours.
Blue Ridge is home to local wine and orchards, tumbling waterfalls, and whimsical small towns made for day trips — yet, it’s still a place where you can slow down. This gorgeous tiny home vacation rental is right on a pond, meaning you’ll always have a view whether you’re taking it in from the enormous windows or sitting by a fire on the water’s edge. If you want to get a better feel for Blue Ridge, check out our recent 2021 trip planner, which will show you the best things to do while you’re in town.
This Sarasota tiny house for rent is a design dream, complete with new furnishings, an upscale modern kitchen filled with natural light, and a teensy patio oasis. Purposeful landscaping and soaring palms will welcome you to paradise as soon as you pull up — and once you’ve settled in, you can drive to a handful of picturesque beaches in moments that will beckon you to take a dip.
The inside of this Cape Cod-style vacation rental cottage is impeccable, but you’ll probably want to spend most of your time here seated on the bay watching the sailboats glide by you. Relax on the edge of the dock for an up-close view, and when you’re ready to explore Freeport, grab a pint at Maine Beer Company, hike through Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, and savor hearty Italian eats at Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro.
This cozy little bohemian house is complete with a chandelier, splashes of jungle green, and decor hints that’ll remind you that you’re close to the ocean. You can sleep up to five friends here, making it a perfect find for small-group travel. Take a short drive to the beach or leave the cars at home and walk to brunch at Blvd Seafood.
Honorable Mentions: Enjoy sophisticated, mid-century style from this one-bedroom cottage in Seagrove Beach, FL, that sits 200 yards from the Gulf of Mexico. Looking for a bit of a bigger small house? Visit this colorful vacation rental that’s steps from the sand in Folly Beach, SC, and take in the palm trees from the balcony made for evening toasts.
Pack a (very small) bag and head out to a place that puts you right in the scenery. Here are some ways to make the most of your tiny home vacation, whether you’re going for a serene solo escape or a romantic retreat.
The Solo Vacation: Solo vacations allow you to make the trip completely yours. Sleep in, rest whenever you please, then head out for the sights and adventures that call to you most without needing to consult with the group. If you’ve never traveled solo, we recommend giving it a try — it can be incredibly freeing and comes with a lot of benefits.
Small-Group Tiny Travel: Consider a tiny home vacation for an unforgettable birthday celebration, a reunion with a long-distance friend, or a weekend away with your local friend group. The small space and unique experience of a tiny home will spark rich conversation and memories (and make for some incredible photos together). A few of the properties featured here sleep 5-7 guests, and many of them come with outdoor space, so you can still do your own thing.
The Tiny for Two: Some of the most romantic vacation rentals happen to be tiny homes. These spaces are often built for two, come with surreal views and big windows, and can be found at a lower price point.
The Tiny Family Road Trip: It’s always fun to experience a new place through the lens of a child. Tiny homes allow for more family time and let you keep an eye on a child or baby while you let down a little yourself.
Looking for more cozy travel ideas? Read Evolve’s guide to hygge, which explores places with soft textures, flickering fireplaces, and natural light.
Book a tiny home vacation now with the flexibility to change plans later. Every vacation rental on our site is backed by our Rest Easy Promise — meaning you’ll always arrive at a place that’s clean, safe, and ready for you every time.
You have a great home in a stellar vacation spot. Demand in the area is high, and your future in vacation rental looks bright.
While that’s a solid place to be, the truth is it isn’t enough to earn five-star reviews from guests. And those five-star reviews matter — successful vacation rentals can fall from the ranks as quickly as they climb them if bad reviews mar your reputation.
On marketplaces like Airbnb, not only do homes that have negative guest reviews turn off guests, they also get deprioritized in search results.
Even worse: newer listings that only have a few poorly-starred reviews — and established listings with mediocre average ratings — might be removed from the site entirely.
For novice and seasoned vacation rental owners alike, these are high stakes. Getting top-notch guest reviews means more visibility for your home, increased bookings, and more income in your pocket.
Newer listings in particular can see the monetary impact of five-star reviews right off the bat. Our data shows that homeowners can earn 70 percent more in the first 12 months when their first review is five-stars as compared to one-star. What’s more: jumping from a four- to five-star overall property rating can translate to nearly $5,000 more in booking value over that initial 12-month period.
Homeowners can earn 70 percent more in the first 12 months when their first review is five-stars as compared to one-star.
So how does a homeowner get good reviews from guests after every stay? It starts with supplying a second-to-none in-home experience, and is secured with open communication and an ongoing commitment to hospitality. Below, we’ll walk you through more specifics around the six key things you can do to ensure your home boasts the five-star, professional rating it needs to stay in high demand.
First and foremost: your home will fall short of guest expectations if it’s not thoroughly cleaned for each and every visit. So do your due diligence pre- and post-stay to ensure your vacation rental is immaculate.
To keep cleaning and maintenance teams on track — and eliminate inconsistencies or accidental oversights — download and distribute our comprehensive cleaning checklists. From there, make sure everything in your home properly functions. (Good news: our cleaning checklists operationalize household maintenance tasks, too!)
Be proactive about double-checking lightbulbs, appliances, heat, and faucets. The last thing you want is a guest dialing you or your guest contact to report a broken dishwasher halfway through their stay.
Some homeowners think they’ll save money by expecting guests to bring toiletries from home or go on grocery runs upon arrival. But in reality, the upfront savings pale in comparison to lasting dissatisfaction from guests.
First, treat your vacation rental like a five-star hotel would treat each of their rooms, creating well-stocked spaces guests can enter without a single to-do. Make sure your kitchen cabinets are packed with essentials like coffee, tea, and spices. Put toilet paper, soap, shower products, and extra towels in every bathroom. And stock fresh linens, ample pillows, and cozy throws in each bedroom.
Next, audit your home’s amenities and upgrade where necessary. Must-haves include appliances like coffee makers, hair dryers, and microwaves. You’ll get brownie points from guests (and potentially a higher nightly rate) for additional features like grills, firepits, entertainment systems, and hot tubs.
When it comes to furnishing your rental, be mindful of varying tastes and preferences. Coordinate neutral pieces of furniture, hang some art, and focus on creating an experience that feels deliberately designed. Don’t treat your property like you might a second home, with used couches or mismatched plates. You want the space to feel fresh, warm, and inviting — not lived in — so that it’s eye-catching for all the right reasons.
Finally, it never hurts to provide that little something extra to really put guests at ease. A bottle of wine or homemade treats paired with a personalized note can make tired travelers feel cared for, while a welcome book helps excited explorers get acquainted with the local sights and restaurants. Those bonus touches give guests the sense that they are your top priority, which will be remembered when it’s time to leave that online review.
To garner a wider array of five-star reviews, diversify your home’s amenities to suit many traveler needs. You’ll lose out on happy family feedback, for instance, if your vacation rental can’t be proofed for kids.
A quick-and-easy solution: supply family-friendly kitchen utensils and stools so little ones can join in mealtime fun. Round out your media collection with movies for the kids. You can even go the extra mile by providing a pack-n-play or chest of toys. The less parents have to bring with them on vacation, the more likely they’ll sing your praises online.
If you’d like to make your home pet-friendly, stock treats and toys for pups and felines, and leave (clean!) bowls for food and water. You also want to be absolutely clear about your cleaning and pet waste policies, making it easier to preserve those top-notch standards for every guest.
Finally, consider creating as many sleeping spaces as your home can appropriately manage (pull-out couches in living rooms and dens to supplement bedrooms), and splurge on high-speed internet. Groups of travelers and remote workers will appreciate these touches, as will business travelers.
Oh, and if you’re unsure about exactly which amenities would drive the most value in your market, our team can help. Homeowners who partner with Evolve also have access to our Vacation Rental Advisors, who can go over your entire property with you and make recommendations on what’s most likely to win guests over and help you get those good reviews.
One of the easiest ways to lose that five-star review potential is if guests feel they’ve been left hanging. Whether it’s an interested traveler looking for more info before booking, or your current guest raising a question about the property or local area, immediate, service-minded communication from you or your designated contact is essential to impeccable hospitality.
Take the experience of Natalie, for example, a guest who got lost with her friends on their way to a cozy Sevierville girls weekend:
“I was so grateful [the property contact] immediately answered the phone and helped us find our way,” she wrote. “She checked on us throughout the weekend as well. What great customer service. Definitely a PERFECT weekend!”
Managing all communications for a booked calendar of guests can easily feel daunting, but it’s non-negotiable if you want to get good reviews on Airbnb and other marketplace sites. That’s why Evolve offers 24/7 support directly to guests on behalf of our homeowners — no matter when an issue arises, we always have someone available to help.
If you’ve completed routine cleaning and maintenance checks and kept the lines of communication open, it’s likely your guests will have the pleasant and drama-free experience they’re looking for. Still, sometimes the unexpected happens. A circuit breaker trips, or an overnight snowfall makes walkways icy and dangerous.
No matter the scenario, you need to be prepared to handle anything. Designating an on-call contact who can arrive at your vacation rental within 30 minutes is incredibly important for emergencies. It’s also smart to confirm great local service partners who can swiftly respond to unexpected service needs or guest requests that fall outside of standard maintenance (like snow removal or water heater restarts).
The great news: homeowners who work with Evolve have the flexibility to use their preferred “home team” to help take care of the property. Our team can even recommend vetted service partners, so you never have to worry about their role in creating a five-star guest experience.
Even the happiest travelers might not think to hop on Airbnb or Vrbo and share their glowing feedback. A day or two after guest departure, take the initiative to reach out. Give them enough time to travel home, but not too long that their memories of coffee on the back porch or the fresh muffins you put out on the counter leave their minds.
Check in with your departed guests to thank them for choosing your home, and kindly solicit their feedback. They should feel like they’re doing you and future travelers an extremely generous favor, but not like they’ll be inconvenienced by anything too time-consuming.
The easiest way to do that: share the link for a review directly. And to help encourage mutual reputation-building, take a few minutes to leave them a positive review, too!
Of course, this step takes more time out of your day than you may like. Which is why, just as we handle all logistical communications with guests throughout their booking process, we also take care of post-stay follow-ups for all Evolve homeowners. Setting yourself up for guest satisfaction is super important, but making sure great experiences actually go on-record is an important step you don’t ever want to miss.
We can’t say it enough: great guest reviews are the backbone of a successful vacation rental business.
But let’s not understate the facts. Getting your home prepared for all types of travelers, coordinating the teams that keep it spotless, and providing consistently-masterful customer service is no easy feat.
Don’t risk your home’s reputation by attempting to juggle everything alone. We’ll help streamline your business and take the tedious parts of management off your plate, so you can focus on nailing the perfect guest experience every time.
When you partner with Evolve, we give you total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. We also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income — and we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.
As a vacation rental homeowner, you want guests to feel at home the moment they enter your property. An easy check-in, inviting entryway, cozy furnishings, and well-prepared spaces are great places to start — but have you considered going above and beyond for your visitors with some welcome gifts?
Homeowners who provide thoughtfully-curated welcome baskets set the stage for truly special guest experiences — and they can be the bonus perk that knocks a satisfied four-star rating straight into glowing, five-star review territory.
The difference there is more notable than it might appear. Our data indicates impressive jumps in annual booking value when homeowners increase their ratings by that single star. And the investment in welcome gifts for guests doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, it may not cost much money at all.
We’ve compiled five of the most popular vacation rental welcome gift ideas Evolve homeowners have used to greet their guests – and the real reviews they gained from going the extra mile. Consider this your inspiration for helping an already-successful vacation rental graduate to best-in-class for hospitality.
Travelers know they’re not the only guests to enjoy your property, but it’s nice to feel personally greeted. Leave a handwritten note to express your excitement that they’re there, with any details about the home or area you think are worth calling out. If you don’t live close enough to the property to make welcome notes plausible, task your guest contact with the writing, or consider making a quick phone call to ensure your guests found everything they need to enjoy their stay.
You can also organize pamphlets with coupons to local hotspots, or create a helpful welcome book with suggestions on how to take advantage of all that your area has to offer. This will help your guests explore with confidence, and make their time at your home a noteworthy experience.
These small acts of kindness can go a long way with guests:
This home was very inviting and absolutely perfect for us. When we came into the home, there was a scrabble board set up with an adorable welcome.”
— Anonymous Guest
A welcome packet had all the house instructions and local recommendations. The house was great. Everything was well organized and the owners were very accommodating.”
— Jared G.
Thanks for the personal phone call to welcome us.”
— Mary B.
Another great way to make guests feel personally catered to and connected to the area they’re visiting: leave a welcome basket or platter of fresh, local foods.
Bake pastries to indulge a guest’s sweet tooth and build associations with the comforts of home cooking. Or give them a complimentary taste of the local culture with an assortment of goodies from the farmers market, or great coffee from a nearby beanery.
These special treats show both your attention to detail and your commitment to accommodating their every need. It also gives guests a great array of supplies to enjoy throughout their stay.
Here’s what guests have to say when their hosts leave them local treats upon arrival:
The hosts were incredibly accommodating. With the surprise of farm fresh eggs, a nice breakfast was easy to put together every day. We would definitely recommend and plan to stay again!”
– Beth E.
Amy was so kind to us and made our stay very comfortable. Along with her lovely personal approach, [there was a] welcome tray of fresh papaya and eggs. It was so comforting to arrive and find that, not to mention delicious and refreshing after a long travel day-trip.”
– Mona F.
The owners did a tremendous job making us feel welcome. There were complimentary snacks and beverages for us to enjoy… and each morning a homemade pastry was left inside the door. Our family lives in the area and we will be back!”
– Kristina M.
When guests walk into your vacation rental and see a vase of fresh-cut blooms on the kitchen counter, science shows it’s an instant mood booster. It also proves you care about the more minute details of your home’s decor, emphasizing how engaged you are with maintaining your property for every stay.
Flowers leave a lasting impression that carries through in guest feedback:
This condo was a delight. It was beautifully decorated, all the way down to the fresh flowers on the dining room table. I would definitely recommend this rental.”
– Shane B.
The home was immaculate with one of the best stocked kitchens I’ve ever seen and fresh flowers on the table. I highly recommend this home.”
– Barbara S.
After a long day of travel, sometimes guests want to celebrate the start of vacation with a little libation. Supplying a nice bottle of wine or a couple beers from a local brewery lets them know you’ve spent time thinking about their experience and care about curating a relaxing and fun atmosphere.
If your guests note they’re toasting a special occasion while at your property, you could even consider welcoming them with a bottle of champagne. (And include a congratulatory message in that personalized welcome note you write!)
That said, be sure to limit the amount of alcohol included in a vacation rental welcome basket: our Claims & Disputes experts note that if a guest gets injured as a result of intoxication or damages a neighboring property after consuming alcohol that you, the homeowner, provided, you may not be protected from resulting liability claims.
You can also provide a few non-alcoholic options. Sparkling water and fresh apple cider have the same luxurious feel, and there’s an array of non-alcoholic spirits and libations now available on store shelves.
Refreshments of any kind help capture the celebratory feel of getting away, settling your guests right into their vacation:
The owners made it extra special by leaving two bottles of wine, a selection of craft and domestic beer, and essential cooking ingredients. If we come to Gilbert again, this will be our first choice.”
– Chris B.
Theresa was so nice! There was champagne and two yummy cupcakes waiting for us upon arrival. Will definitely be back over staying at a hotel!”
– Kelly Christine H.
All of the details were just right; the welcome bottle of wine and french press with locally roasted coffee were also a nice touch of hospitality. We would definitely stay here again!”
– Alex M.
For guests who book during a holiday season, add some festive flare to your vacation rental welcome package. Bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving travelers, and provide recommendations for where to get the best turkey in town. Offer a bowl of candy and spooky treats for Halloween. Leave countdown-worthy accessories to infuse extra sparkle into New Year’s Eve festivities.
Just be sure to keep in mind differing religious beliefs when dressing up your home for the holidays. Opt for white lights and winter-themed extras in December, for instance, and refrain from baking Christmas-themed cookies to keep things non-denominational. You want every guest to feel the spirit of the season, without narrowing the view of what that might look like.
When season’s greetings are done with finesse, the results are quite cheerful:
Everything is great. We even received a pumpkin pie and a welcome card from the owner, perfect for a relaxed and happy Thanksgiving.”
– Susan C.
When we arrived, we found the place decorated for the holidays and [it was] very inviting. The owners even left a gift basket of treats for us! We all want to come back with our families!”
– Leslie M.
* Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Going above and beyond with a custom vacation rental welcome package is a super special, unexpected touch from homeowners. But there’s a whole lot more they will expect to make their stay worth five stars.
From immaculate cleaning standards and top-notch amenities to punctual and professional communication, every aspect of your management process needs to be streamlined to ensure those added touches truly elevate the guest experience.
When you partner with Evolve, we take that heavy workload off your plate, giving you total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. We also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams. All of that means you get valuable time back, so there’s room to focus on nailing the perfect guest experience every time.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income —and we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.
Every year is a collection of memories. 2021 could be the year you witness foliage that resembles a real-life painting as you wind through the Poconos. It could be the holiday season you stroll a Bavarian-style mountain village, marveling over 500,000 lights with a hot pretzel in hand. Or maybe, this is the year you finally take a beach trip to the islands with nothing to do but admire gentle waves and miles of white sand.
Planning your 2021 vacation is half the fun — and science shows that even thinking about travel can make you happy. Whether you’re looking forward to a family vacation or a secluded solo getaway, this trip planner is sure to take your imagination on an adventure. Book early, start getting excited and know that every Evolve vacation rental comes with the flexibility to change your plans.
Health and Wellness Update: For your safety, we require you to follow local instructions regarding COVID-19 and wear a mask if you choose to interact with an owner. Evolve’s flexible cancellation policy helps you book with confidence.
This spring is about seeking peaceful moments and taking it easy. In Cape Coral, you can visit islands that are home to picturesque shores by way of a short drive. Grab your sun hat, find a place in the sand, and float in the ocean as you admire vast blue skies.
Mornings in Cape Coral: Start the day with a maple latte and s’mores waffle (or find savory eats, too) at Bullig in Fort Myers. Then, head to Manatee Park in North Fort Myers, a warm-water refuge for manatees. On your way back to your vacation rental, stop by the lively Fort Myers River District and pop into local shops and galleries on foot.
Afternoons in Cape Coral: Cape Coral days are best spent perfecting your tan from an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Pass slow afternoons on Sanibel Island, known for stunning white-sand beaches, see-through waters, and beautiful shells that find their way to shore. Play in the sun at Bowman’s Beach, grab a quick New England-style seafood sandwich at Clam Shack, and take a drive over to Captiva Island, where more unspoiled beaches and clear waters await.
If you’re back from the islands early, toast to the day’s adventure at Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery. You can schedule a tour here to gain a deeper understanding of the spirit or taste your way through rums that are big on flavor, including fruit Rumshines.
Evenings in Cape Coral: At night, dress up and dine on an organic farm covered in Spanish moss that sits on 100 acres of land. After a scenic meal at Rosy Tomorrow, you’ll leave with a new appreciation for the fresh Florida produce and grass-fed, heritage meats.
If you’re looking for more a relaxed evening — maybe a sunset walk at Bunche Beach and a scoop of ice cream — stop into Cape Creamery for everything from classic flavors to Banana Puddin’ and Great White Shark scoops.
Where to Stay: Enjoy a dip in your private pool or hot tub with serene canal views in the luxurious Cape Coral vacation rental (pictured above) that’s a resort of your own.
In Blue Ridge, you can breathe in crisp alpine air and enjoy summer how it’s best spent: nestled in the mountains. Go on hikes surrounded by waterfalls, pay a visit to local orchards, and when evening rolls around, time-travel back to 1955.
Mornings in Blue Ridge, GA: Sleep in, then enjoy a leisurely morning walk around Lake Blue Ridge. When your appetite kicks in, grab legendary Cuban sandwiches and Cafe Con Leche at Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe (and treat yourself to a rum cake for your afternoon drive ahead).
Afternoons in Blue Ridge, GA: The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to a handful of small towns that make charming day trips. Helen, Georgia — a European-style village with only 430 residents — is just about an hour from Blue Ridge.
Right in Helen, you can rent tubes for a refreshing river float, visit the awe-inspiring Anna Ruby Falls that tumble through the forest, or spend the afternoon sipping your way through local tasting rooms. Be sure to bring your camera along, as you might be inspired by the cobblestone streets and playful facades here.
Before you head back to your Blue Ridge vacation rental, pay a visit to Mercier Orchards and pick fresh fruit right off the vine for snacking later. If you’re in more of a mood to grab and go, Mercier sells pies, jams, and even hard cider that let you sample their signature apples.
Evenings in Blue Ridge, GA: Make the most of long summer nights by going old school. Grab a cold pint at Grumpy Old Men Brewery, pick up candy at Huck’s General Store, then head down the street to Swan Drive-In. Awaken the past as you turn on the radio, let the headlights dim, and experience what a visit to Blue Ridge might’ve been like back in 1955 when the theater opened.
If you’re looking to get dressed up, make a reservation at Black Sheep, where you can savor steaks and seafood inside of a darling, historic house circa 1914.
Where to Stay: Take in the lush surroundings next to the fire from this Blue Ridge, GA vacation rental cabin (pictured above) that offers an upscale spin on rustic living.
Want more outdoor-focused summer travel ideas? Read our feature on National Parks.
Hit the road, put on your favorite sweater, and experience a brilliant palette that rivals New England foliage. The Poconos are about taking your time and reconnecting with nature through drives, day trips, and the occasional glass of local wine.
Mornings in the Poconos: Cook a decadent fall breakfast in your vacation rental (like one of these ideas from Love and Lemons). Once you’re fueled up, grab your camera and adventure out on a tour of local waterfalls.
A short and easy hike will take you to the base of Hawks Falls at Hickory Run State Park, or you can head to the immersive Bushkill Falls, where eight cascading waterfalls paint the side of the rock. For a day trip, take a drive to the tiny, romantic town of Jim Thorpe, PA, where a mansion from 1861 awaits your visit.
Afternoons in the Poconos: Midday is the prime time to wind through the mountains, admiring fall in its rich hues. Heat some cider at your cabin and pick one of these seven scenic drives. The best way to see fall color is to take your time and stop when something piques your interest — and the Poconos Mountain area has also rounded up a list of leaf-peeping FAQs right here.
When you’re ready to relax, stop for a wine tasting at Three Hammers Winery, and bring a bottle home for later.
Evenings in the Poconos: Fall is about crisp evenings on the porch, sipping with a blanket and good conversation. Grab something cozy to-go for dinner (like locally loved pho), then sit outside your vacation rental cabin surrounded by trees, admiring their colors as they shift in the fading light. Then bring the party inside, playing board games, curling up with a movie, and falling asleep in the stillness of the mountains.
Where to Stay: This welcoming Poconos vacation rental cabin (pictured above) fills fall days with natural light, crackling fires, and a porch overlooking it all.
If you’re in the mood for more cozy getaway ideas, read our guide to hygge homes.
Cradled in the Cascade Ridge, this inviting town embraces the holiday season each year by way of half a million holiday lights that twinkle over Bavarian-style buildings. Drink cocoa at your Leavenworth vacation rental, then let yourself get lost in the magic of Leavenworth, home to authentic German restaurants, quaint shops, and quiet natural wonders.
Mornings in Leavenworth, WA: Get a strong start with an ethically sourced brew at J5 Coffee, where decadent flavored lattes are made with love. Next, head over to The Gingerbread Factory and pick up decorated gingerbread cookies. Wander the bright, dreamy downtown area as you shop small-batch home decor at Posy Handpicked Goods, find a new read at A Book for All Seasons, or pick up a piece of German Christmas decor that’s sure to become an heirloom at Tannenbaum Shoppe.
Afternoons in Leavenworth, WA: Leavenworth is home to a one-of-kind museum, where nutcrackers are the star. Explore 7,000 timeless wooden toy soldiers at The Nutcracker Museum, befriend woodland caribou at Leavenworth’s Reindeer Farm, and embark on a fairytale sleigh ride journey through the snow. Once you’re ready for some warmth, grab an afternoon pie at Blewett Brewing.
Evenings in Leavenworth, WA: As night falls over this Bavarian village, take a walk and experience why Leavenworth is called The Village of Lights. Then, ski Cascade Ridge under the enchantment of evening — Stevens Pass invites adventure-lovers to night-ski with six lifts that stay open late. When a nightcap is calling, visit Pika Provisions (on Friday and Saturday evenings), where you can sip inventive craft cocktails in a soothing, speakeasy atmosphere.
For an elegant night out at a slower pace, make a reservation at Mana, an intimate dining experience where eight courses tune to the season. Or, pick up homemade soup from Yodelin Broth and locally crafted to-go cider from Bushel & Bee, then rest easy in your Evolve vacation rental.
Where to Stay: Sleep nestled in the woods at this welcoming Leavenworth vacation rental cabin (pictured above) that comes with a fireplace and outdoor ambiance.
Want more of that European feeling that’s closer to home? Check out our guide to the Best Places in the U.S. That Feel International right here — or take a journey into America’s Best Small Towns for more winter vacation ideas.
Put exciting plans on the calendar and know that your stay will be everything you saw promised online. Our verified homes are backed by our Rest Easy Promise — meaning you’ll always arrive at a clean place that’s 100% ready for you.
The vacation rental industry has flourished over the last few years, and experts project it won’t slow anytime soon: Between now and 2024, it’s estimated the space will see a market growth of $62.7 billion. (That’s right, billion.)
Shifting traveler behaviors in 2020 have contributed to the widespread appeal of short-term rental property investment. With social distancing and seclusion at the forefront of everyone’s minds amidst the coronavirus pandemic, people are looking to escape cities for small town America, driving to destinations that let them take in the fresh air and peace that Mother Nature provides.
With booming investment opportunities in the quaintest corners of our country, we’re excited to be back with our annual list of the best places to buy a vacation rental. From hotspots nestled in the mountains to beachy enclaves, here’s where you should consider scooping up property in 2021.
The By the Numbers data below is based on a combination of proprietary and public data, but the three main metrics we took into account are:
We also evaluated a property’s potential to outperform market expectations with an Evolve partnership. Below, you’ll see how we helped some of our top performers maximize income in each area, resulting in them significantly surpassing the market’s projected revenue.
Back for the third year in a row, the Poconos now sit in the top spot for vacation rental property investment. An ideal destination for the outdoorsy traveler, townships like Tobyhanna, Pocono Lake, and Albrightsville attract year-round visitors with their expansive woodlands and picturesque mountain views.
New York and Philadelphia city-dwellers escape to the Poconos for skiing in the winter, hiking and water sports in the summer, and small town charm all year long. Our Real Estate Services (RES) experts suggest looking for waterfront properties near Lake Wallenpaupack or Arrowhead Lake, where most rental properties see the hottest booking demand.
Making its debut in our #2 spot is the idyllic mountain town of Blue Ridge. From hiking and horseback riding to apple picking and trout fishing, this storybook-worthy slice of the South is a vacationer’s rustic dream.
Visitors often enjoy the trails and waterfalls of Chattahoochee National Forest, or ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the neighboring mountain towns of McCaysville and Copperhill — making your vacation rental the perfect homebase for a variety of dreamy day trips. Our RES team says to look for cabin homes with views to really maximize your earning potential.
If Gatlinburg, TN wowed you on last year’s best places to buy list, then you won’t be disappointed in its neighbor to the north. Located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is the geographic epicenter of Gatlinburg and Sevierville vacation rental demand.
Known for its array of family-friendly activities and breathtaking natural beauty, visitors often come to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park or to frequent Dollywood for rides and water slides with the kids. When the temperatures drop, skiers flock to the Ober Gatlinburg resort for thrilling days of snow-filled fun.
What’s more: Evolve vacation rental owners have found the Pigeon Forge area (again, that includes Gatlinburg and Sevierville) to be a true property investment gem thanks to year-round occupancy and impressive returns on investment.
Another newcomer to our lineup, Granbury presents a must-consider investment opportunity in the Lone Star State. Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, this town offers easy access to big city attractions while maintaining a rich cultural heart of its own.
For an escape into nature, the beach at Lake Granbury is the area’s most notable outdoor recreation hotspot, so our RES team recommends snapping up investment properties with easy lake access or a lakefront view. Given it’s only about an eight-minute drive from downtown (where live theater and historic town tours await), your guests will feel tucked away, yet never too far from the action.
If you’re wondering what the hubbub around Hot Springs is, you can find it right in the name. Right next to Hot Springs National Park, this Ouachita Mountains locale draws visitors from near and far for its naturally-heated, mineral-rich springs and bathhouses. Add in photo-worthy waterfalls and a 210-acre woodlands botanical garden, and Hot Springs is home to some truly stunning nature views.
The great news: list prices are surprisingly low for properties near Hot Springs National Park, and our RES team says it shouldn’t take long to recoup the investment. Consider this destination a formidable up-and-comer with loads of untapped potential.
File under: “Mountain town…but make it Southwest.” Nestled in the Sierra Blanca mountain range, Ruidoso is a paradise for skiers and cowboys alike. In the winter, the slopes at Ski Apache Resort and Ruidoso Winter Park see an influx of snowsport lovers. In the summer, the Ruidoso Downs Race Track gets its fair share of guests, as does the photogenic Bonito Lake. Year-round, visitors patronize the area’s casinos to try their luck at Billy the Kid Casino or the Inn of the Mountain Gods.
While Ruidoso median revenue hovers around $26,000 annually, we’ve seen Evolve homeowners earn over six figures in just 18 months. Between the wide array of outdoor recreational activities, casino nightlife, and preponderance of the ever-popular cabin home aesthetic, Ruidoso is solidly one of the best places to buy an investment property for vacation rental.
Broken Bow is so nice, we’re officially featuring it twice. A woodsy wonderland with historical charm, Broken Bow is the gateway to Beavers Bend State Park and the home to Broken Bow Lake. Fly fishing, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and ATV riding are just a few of the outdoor activities this lush landscape has to offer.
Given the abundance of watersport activity, our RES team says investors should look for cabins along Broken Bow Lake or in Hochatown. Many travelers are on the hunt for added amenities when they book in the area, too, so it’s worth exploring luxury homes (factored into our investment stats) to maximize revenue.
That said, luxury price points aren’t your only option: prospective buyers can still find homes a bit farther from the lake at prices as low as $96,000 — you may just need to anticipate lower revenue, too.
Branson is making a well-deserved return to this year’s best places to buy list. A popular family destination in the Ozarks, this small town with Wild West vibes has a variety of amusement parks, specialty museums, and entertainment opportunities on the famous 76 Country Boulevard (Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner & Show is truly a can’t-miss).
Guests who want to experience the great outdoors flock to Branson to hike and fish in Table Rock State Park, or take in Ozark views during a ride on the historic Branson Scenic Railway. Your occupancy won’t dip in winter, either, as people gather to enjoy Branson’s many festive holiday lights displays.
Lake Havasu City is perfect for travelers seeking desert and water. Best known for its many red rock trails, the Lake Havasu terrain is a hiker’s paradise. Situated alongside Lake Havasu, though, the city becomes a bit of an oasis as explorers can uncover hidden coves and beaches. Boating, fishing, water sports, and scuba diving are among the most popular recreational activities.
For history buffs, there’s also the London Bridge. Relocated from the Thames in 1964 and known as the world’s largest antique, the bridge now spans the Colorado River and attracts a multitude of annual visitors.
In general, Arizona also happens to be very short-term rental friendly. Free from regulations and with year-round travel demand, our RES team says the investment opportunity in Lake Havasu City is yours for the taking.
For investors interested in finding beach property, Cape Coral is worth serious consideration. Right on the Gulf of Mexico, this coastal haven offers more than just ocean views and sandy coves — ecological and aquatic preserves give visitors the chance to experience rich biodiversity, too.
It’s easy to take a kayak excursion through the mangroves of Four Mile Cove to see herons, ibis, and eagles. Guests can also relax in Sirenia Vista Park for a manatee sighting, or take a Cape Coral Dolphin Tour on the open ocean. Of course, water sports, boating, kayaking, and fishing are also popular activities in the area.
While high HOAs are often a deterrent to Florida investors, Cape Coral is one of the few areas in the Sunshine State without heavy regulation. This means fewer hoops for buyers to jump through financially, and a much easier path to ROI on your income property.
A few hours north of New York City sit the Catskills, a lush mountain range dotted with charming small towns. New Yorkers head that way year-round to enjoy the natural landscape, heritage of arts and culture, and plethora of foodie communities. The Catskills also offer a variety of family-friendly activities, loads of outdoor recreational options, and the perfect backdrop for romantic couples getaways — so it’s pretty likely travelers of all kinds will find something to really make their hearts sing.
Our RES team notes investors looking to capitalize on the Catskill’s ever-present draw should check out the eclectic Woodstock, riverfront Catskill, pastoral Margaretville, or Windham at the area’s northernmost tip. And remember, you want to strike while the iron’s hot: the local market has seen 40 percent growth in the last two years alone.
Investing in a vacation rental property is a personal decision, but you don’t have to navigate your options alone. Whether you’re drawn to one of our tried-and-true mountain towns or enticed by the untapped potential of a lesser-known up-and-comer, our Real Estate Services team can help you take the next step.
We have the data to contextualize your investment opportunities and define your objectives, preferred real estate agents who specialize in vacation rental purchases, and an arsenal of management tools to help you reach your personal and financial goals once you’ve closed on your short-term rental property and are ready to jumpstart your business.
For additional research, here are some resources to help you better understand the potential of vacation rental investment:
And here’s a quick list of additional locations that have made our Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental list in previous years:
Now that you’re ready to talk about purchasing the home of your dreams, let’s get the conversation started today.
Snowy driveways, cozy firelit evenings, frost on the window panes, hot cocoa on the stove.
To your guests, these ingredients make for a charming winter escape. But to unprepared vacation rental owners, they can translate to icy danger, a freezing-cold draft, and a seasonal headache brewing.
Luckily, we’re here to make sure that isn’t you. So even though prepping your vacation rental for winter bookings might feel like a mind-boggling game of Jenga (where the heck do I start?), we tapped Nicole Guidi of Book by Owner to share the inside scoop on how to winterize a home with confidence.
From seasonal cleaning tips to getting your rental’s amenities cold weather-ready, these are the key action items — along with a few bonus tips! — that’ll winterize your vacation home and help lock in those five-star guest experiences.
In an ideal world, your cleaning services are already operating like a well-oiled machine. (If they’re not, check out our comprehensive cleaning checklists for some easy and efficient standardization.)
But what about the fireplace that’s gone unused for most of the year? Or those gutters that are now filled with autumn’s leaves? To winterize your home and prep for cold-weather guests, you’ll want to task your cleaning or maintenance team with the essential to-dos that may have been put on the backburner during warmer months:
Bonus Tip: Carpets should be cleaned every 12 to 18 months, so while not required, Guidi recommends using the season change as an opportunity to get it done. “It’s expensive, but it really keeps up your investment,” she says. Think of it this way: your guests will be spending more time cozied up inside your home, so might as well make things pristine!
You remember that nightmare we started laying out? The icy driveway, the piled snow, the it-looks-pretty-but-my-car-is-buried scenario?
Many homeowners have experienced some version of that after forgetting to equip their maintenance teams (and guests!) with winter-specific supplies. So it’s important to take a pre-season inventory of what’s needed to combat the elements, then stockpile. Guidi says it’s common for homeowners to provide the following:
Bonus Tip: To level up your guests’ experience, consider throwing in some cozy robes, hot chocolate supplies, and hand warmers for extra comfort. It’s the little touches that add to your home’s charm and stay top of mind when your guests leave five-star reviews about the experience!
Before the chill sets in, hire certified professionals (or tap your property maintenance team where applicable) to verify proper functioning of important systems, inspect windows, and winterize amenities like above-ground and inground pools, hot tubs, and sprinkler systems. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how you and the pros can winterize your house.
Bonus Tip: Get a priority on-call service partner for the winter. “The toughest thing we run into is that when the heat goes out, it’s hard getting a contractor out in a timely manner to fix the issue,” Guidi says. And it goes beyond heating repairs. Whether it’s a guest check-in issue, snow removal, a drafty bedroom, or a hot tub snafu, it’s a good idea to have vetted service partners available to handle emergencies. (P.S. If you become an Evolve homeowner, we can help you find the perfect fit.)
It may seem like a splurge, but investing in “smart” technology can be really valuable if you’re managing your property remotely. Simplify the winterizing process, save money and energy, and handle issues without deploying your on-site contact with these tech improvements:
Guidi’s biggest rule of thumb for vacation rental homeowners: “If you can’t do it yourself, hire professionals to make sure all of these checks and balances get done.”
Enter Evolve. Our fresh approach to vacation rental management makes year-round success feel like a summer breeze. We give you total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. We also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.
It’s our job to drive more guests to your property for maximum income, so you can focus on providing an incredible guest experience — all for an industry-low 10% management fee.
We’ve helped 14,000+ homeowners earn more than $1 billion in rental income. And we’d love to help you.
See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.