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 owners 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 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.

Your Income Variables Explained

The first step toward accurately estimating rental income? Defining each term properly. Here’s a quick-reference glossary of what each variable used in our calculator means.

Small blue icons of a sun and moon indicating nightly rate

Nightly Rate

Avg rate you expect to charge/night

Small blue calendar icon indicating nights booked

Nights Booked

Avg # of nights you expect to book/month

Small blue icon indicating mortgage

Mortgage

Monthly mortgage payment

small icon of a shower indicating utility fees

Utilities

Monthly costs for heat/hot water, electricity/AC, WiFi & cable

small icon indicating taxes

Insurance & Property Taxes

Monthly costs for homeowners insurance, liability insurance, property protection plan + your state’s property tax rate

small money icon

Other Expenses

Monthly sum of HOA & maintenance costs + avg stocking/upgrading costs

small blue icon indicating management fees

Management Costs

Monthly % of income set aside for management/marketing fees (dependent on how you run your business)

Understanding Income and Expenses

Let’s be real: estimating an accurate income for your investment property can be confusing. Certain elements — like mortgage and utility payments — have fairly standard numbers you can enter into the calculator without much math. But others require more contextual consideration. So, let’s walk through each step of the process in more detail.

Step 1: Calculating Monthly Revenue

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 tens of thousands of listings across North America to compile the most impactful 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 vacation rental market analyses library. Each provides a data-backed gauge of how direct competition performs — and, in turn, how much you might be able to to charge and book.

Once you pull the nightly rate and nights booked averages from those market analyses, plug them into the vacation rental income calculator above to start laying a solid foundation for estimating monthly income (and overall revenue).

Owners who work with Evolve get access to our team of revenue experts and exclusive revenue optimization strategies that are proven to outperform the market.

Step 2: Calculating Monthly Expenses 

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.

Evolve owners are automatically covered for accidental damages via our risk protection programs.

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 short term rental calculator.

Next, input your monthly mortgage payment and utilities.

To incorporate other expenses, first combine monthly HOA and maintenance costs, cleaning fees, and the average expense of keeping your short-term rental inventoried and 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. These fees and how they work look different depending on how you choose to run your vacation rental business.

If you run a vacation rental without any help:

  1. Select the “I plan to manage my property on my own” option in our vacation rental income calculator
  2. Add up the varying percentage costs of the marketing fees for the marketplaces you plan to use (listed below)
  3. Move the marketing fee slider to match the sum of those percentage fees

If you use a property manager:

  1. Select the “I plan to hire a manager” option in our short term rental income calculator
  2. Slide the bar to account for an average 10-50% fee

If you work with Evolve (who lists your home on all the best vacation rental sites at no extra cost):

  1. Select the “I plan to hire a manger” option in our vacation rental income calculator
  2. If you’re a Core owner, slide the bar to 10%; if you’re a Plus owner, slide the bar to 15%

Maximize Your Income Potential with Evolve

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 an industry-low management fee (that’s backed by our Risk-Free Guarantee), we’ll apply a proven-to-work marketing and booking strategy to your vacation rental, boosting your revenue potential while keeping costs (and stress levels) down.

Hop down to the form below to see if you qualify for our services and kickstart a conversation with one of our vacation rental pros.

Real estate is known for being a solid investment, and recent traveler trends highlight a clear opportunity to earn extra income by investing in vacation rentals. Plus, when we surveyed over 8,000 travelers, 82% said they plan to book a vacation rental for their 2023 adventures.

Experts also believe these traveler preferences are here to stay, making short-term rental investment a great play for long-term income.

Here are six major benefits of owning vacation rental property to underscore exactly why it’s a good investment.

In This Article:
Increased Income Potential
Varied Market Opportunity
Offsetting Owner Costs
Even More Revenue Opportunity
A Built-In Vacation 
Home Appreciation

1. Increased Income Potential

Not only is the vacation rental industry showing plenty of income potential, it’s also creating opportunity for what our experts consider a “high-reward profile.” 

Most investors look at cap rate — the ratio between a property’s net income and its market value — as a key measure of success, because it indicates return on investment. Our team says long-term rental cap rates can hover around an average 4-5% in metro markets (where investors are typically drawn), but short-term rental cap rates can frequently come in at 10% or higher.

This means your ceiling for profitability is significantly higher when investing in vacation rentals than it is with other property options — and that’s more money that could land in your pocket.

2. Varied Market Opportunity

While finding success in long-term rental generally requires a purchase near a major metro area, buyers can find vacation rental properties with profit potential in a wide variety of markets

And since travelers’ favorite locations are scattered from coast to coast, you’re spoiled with choices for vacation rental investment properties –– whether you’re looking for a beachfront property, lakeside rental, mountainous ski house, or cozy cabin.

Ready to explore your options? Our team helps investors find success in markets all across the country.

3. Offsetting Owner Costs

Creating solid revenue streams and growing your income property portfolio are the main investment goals for many second home owners. But there’s also massive value, particularly when it comes to investing for beginners, in offsetting owner expenses from the start.

From mortgage payments and utilities to insurance fees and maintenance costs, vacation rental income can cover monthly expenses and help your home pay for itself in a shorter time frame. Vacation rental owners are also eligible for certain tax deductions, which could help close the gap between income and expenses.

Bonus benefit: using a vacation rental management company with especially low fees (like Evolve) can help owners break even and start earning profit faster.

4. Even More Revenue Opportunity (with Five-Star Hospitality)

The best part about investing in vacation rental properties is that great guest feedback makes your home more lucrative over time. 

When rental properties hit new listing sites, they have to compete with established competitors for visibility and bookings. But the more five-star experiences you deliver (along with smart responses to any poor reviews), the more sites like Airbnb and Vrbo will show your property to browsing travelers — making it more likely to earn bookings. 

Best-in-class hospitality also makes it easier to raise daily rates (when the market allows for it), increasing your profit margins on any given stay as you establish the value of your vacation rental property. 

5. A Built-In Vacation

Unlike long-term rental investments, a vacation rental property is also a place where you can get away. It provides the luxury of carving out time to spend with family and friends, or to switch up your work-from-home space — without necessarily needing to spend money on accommodations each time you travel.

In other words, you earn rental income and boost revenue when you’re not there, but also save money when you’d like a change of scenery yourself.

6. Home Appreciation

As with all smart real estate investments, you can expect your vacation rental’s market value to appreciate over time. So, if and when you become ready to sell, you’d likely earn more than the previous owners did when you bought it. 

What’s more, when that time comes, Evolve has experts who can help you sell directly to buyers who are looking to invest in vacation rentals.

Take the Next Step Toward Investing in Vacation Rental 

Investing in vacation rentals might feel like a big undertaking, but Evolve is here to guide you at every stage of the journey — whether you’re just starting out or consider yourself an industry pro. Our experts can help you: 

And if you’re hoping to buy a rental with promise, our homes for sale page features properties that have already been vetted for profit potential.

No matter where you are or plan to buy, we’re here to help you reach your vacation rental goals.

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.

Bust Stress: Vacation Rentals with a Pool

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. 

Resort-style pool and hot tub at Goodyear, Arizona vacation rental

Private Swimmer’s Paradise in Goodyear, AZ

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.

Palatial Luxury Home In Homestead, FL

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.

Palm tree-lined pool at luxury vacation rental in Homestead, Florida
Lush background with in-ground pool at modern vacation rental in Austin, Texas

Modern Poolside Oasis In Austin, TX

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.

Explore All Homes With A Pool

Get Energized: Vacation Rentals With A Gym

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. 

Charming log cabin vacation rental surrounded by trees and nature trails in Sonoma County, California

Enchanting Log Cabin In Sonoma County, CA

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.

Private Forest Mansion In Acworth, GA

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.

Acworth, Georgia vacation rental with a pool

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. 

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Find Quiet: Vacation Rentals with an Office

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.

Living room in an Erie, Colorado vacation rental that also has multiple offices

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.

Upscale Cabin In Show Low, AZ

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.

Spacious kitchen in Show Low, Arizona cabin vacation rental, a home that also has a lofted office

Honorable Mention: Work remotely from this vacation rental in Fairplay, CO, and enjoy a cozy, log cabin exterior with a clean, modern interior. 

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Cozy Up: Vacation Rentals with a Fireplace

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.

Dreamy Dome House In Idyllwild, CA

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.

Cozy living room with wood-burning stove and guitar at the unique Dome House vacation rental in Idyllwild, California
Living room with stone fireplace and nature views at Incline Village, Nevada vacation rental

Spacious Modern Hideaway In Incline Village, NV

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.

Cabin In Breckenridge, CO

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. 

Rustic Breckenridge, Colorado cabin rental living room with large stone fireplace

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

Fuel Creativity: Vacation Rentals with a View

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.

Exterior view of Bay City, Oregon hilltop vacation rental with stilted decks and lush landscaping

Hilltop Haven In Bay City, OR

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

Lakeview Retreat In Albion, MI

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.

Deck overlooking a private dock and lake at an Albion, Michigan vacation rental
Deck overlooking the ocean from beachfront vacation rental in Topsail Beach, North Carolina

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

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STAY EVOLVE

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.

“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.

They’re Marketplaces, We’re a Management Company

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 helps you start, manage, and grow a vacation rental business. That means we actively work 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 tens of thousands of properties listed on their sites, and we constantly implement cutting-edge strategies to make sure our owners’ homes are positioned for maximum traffic and bookings.

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 revenue optimization 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.

Our Homes Are Different, Too: Always Perfect for Vacation

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.

A Different Experience for Owners and Guests

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.

So We’re Not Airbnb or Vrbo, But We’re All Friends

Once you work with Evolve, you quickly discover the difference between our service and all of the others. Soon you’ll book — and earn — more for an industry-low fee that’s backed by an unmatched Risk-Free Guarantee.

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 how Evolve helps owners — from newcomers to industry veterans — maximize their listing exposure and passive income

Forested peaks, calm lake waters, and powdery ski resorts make the Poconos a true gem of a vacation destination for anyone looking to unwind. Every year, East Coasters trade the daily grind for the Poconos’ laid-back atmosphere in droves — so it comes as no surprise that the area sees nearly 30 million visitors annually. 

With a strong hold on travel demand and a special draw for families, the Pocono Mountains are one of the leading markets for vacation rental. For eager buyers, this means there’s major profit potential with Poconos investment properties. 

To help you understand the income opportunity this top vacation rental market presents, we created a free downloadable vacation rental market analysis. Inside you’ll find: 

The findings in this analysis are based on Evolve’s Poconos market averages in the last year and provide a general baseline for performance potential. They’re designed to help inform smart buying decisions when investing in the Poconos. 

Download Our Complete Poconos Vacation Rental Investment Analysis

Green icon of a lake house with waves, trees, and stars

Why the Poconos Are a Great Place to Own Vacation Rental Property

Easily accessible from New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark, the Poconos are an ideal location for urbanites looking for fun things to do at any time of year. In the summer, waterfront days reign supreme on Lake Wallenpaupack and Lake Harmony, while skiing at six Poconos resorts is a winter hit.

That’s why — while many vacation rental owners rely on a single high season to generate the majority of their income — the Poconos attract a steady flow of travelers and enjoy two peak seasons. This gives investors higher occupancy and daily rates for longer spans of the calendar year, translating to more chances for five-star reviews and extra income. 

Investing in the Poconos is also relatively affordable, with median prices for properties in hotspots like Mount Pocono ($250,000) and Stroudsburg ($335,000) consistently lower than the U.S. average (not to mention it consistently finds a home on our list of best places to buy). And with bookings year-round, it’s possible to recoup upfront costs and start earning passive income faster.

Green icon of a crystal ball with the words "profit prediction" in the center

How Much Money Can You Earn with a Poconos Investment Property?

The annual draw of the Poconos means investors can earn the trust of returning guests and potentially make more consistent income. Reaching your full potential, though, depends on a variety of considerations.

Property Size

This region tends to attract big groups and families, so the best investment opportunities in the Poconos are larger homes that often outperform those with smaller footprints. On average, five-bedroom properties see the highest annual revenue and daily rates, so look for as much square footage as your budget allows to really help maximize your investment opportunity. 

That said, homes with fewer bedrooms still give investors plenty of room to shine. Three-bedroom rentals have one of the highest annual occupancy rates across property sizes, and they account for the largest portion of available inventory in the area — a win-win for those looking to buy at lower price points while still getting a full bookings calendar.

Property Location

Our real estate experts say those visiting the Poconos want to stay in close proximity to lakes, ski resorts, or waterparks — so buying a vacation home near one or more of these local draws can increase the potential for more bookings and annual income. 

Even better: a property with direct lakefront or ski-in/ski-out access provides an added level of luxury and convenience that attracts more guests at even higher rates.

Property Amenities

Given the area’s popularity among families and large groups, it’s most important to feature amenities that keep them comfortable and entertained. Start by maximizing capacity (and profit!) with bunk beds, trundles, or sleeper sofas. Then, include family-friendly touches like entertainment consoles or lawn games. 

According to our experts, the two most sought-after amenities in the Poconos are game rooms and hot tubs. Game rooms offer tons of kid-approved entertainment all in one place, and can provide fun for all ages when they include things like ping-pong or pool tables. Hot tubs are a surefire way to please adult guests, plus they help catch the attention of cold-weather travelers and secure more winter bookings.

To make your vacation rental even more attractive to the Poconos’ summer guests, consider lake essentials like paddleboards and kids’ floaties, or big-ticket amenities like a private pool or boat dock. 

As a traditional vacation rental destination, it’s also important to note that many properties on the market are older builds. While you might opt for a more outdated home to save some cash upfront, our in-house experts suggest being prepared to give it a facelift. A home that doesn’t keep up with more contemporary tastes and luxuries will likely lose bookings to nearby competitors. Add modern finishes, stainless steel appliances, flatscreen TVs, and upscale decor to really give your Poconos investment property an income-driving edge.

Download Our Full Poconos, PA Vacation Rental Market Analysis

With year-round charm for travelers and solid vacation rental interest, the best investment properties in the Poconos can offer serious profit potential to owners who make focused, data-backed decisions.

Whether you’re in the market to buy an investment property or looking to make the most of an existing homedownload our full Poconos Vacation Rental market analysis to set yourself up for success. It has tons of important insights, including:  

Discovering the most lucrative Poconos investment properties should feel as exciting as a day of thrills at Great Wolf Lodge. Use this exclusive performance intel to guide your next steps toward vacation rental success.

Hawaii is truly a magical vacation destination. From snorkeling and sailing to beachside relaxation, there’s an adventure for everyone in this tropical paradise. 

Owning a vacation rental in Hawaii can feel magical too, as properties of all shapes and sizes can house the millions of tourists who visit annually. 

Since each island has its own flair, below is a breakdown of the unique features and benefits for the best places to invest in Hawaii — Kauai and the Big Island’s Kona Coast — to help you decide where your investment dollars should go. 

We’ve also created free, downloadable vacation rental market analyses for each area, so you can take a closer look at your investment opportunities. These reports include:

The findings in these analyses are based on Evolve’s Hawaii market averages over the last year, and provide a general baseline for performance potential. They’re designed to help inform smart decisions when buying a vacation rental in Hawaii.

Download Our Hawaii Vacation Rental Investment Analyses

Note: This article was modified on August 16th, 2023, removing Maui as a result of Maui wildfire impacts.

In This Article:

What the Best Hawaii Vacation Rental Markets Have in Common

What to Know About Owning a Vacation Rental in Kauai 

What to Know About Owning a Vacation Rental on the Big Island

What the Best Hawaii Vacation Rental Markets Have in Common

While Kauai and the Big Island each have unique draws, many pros and cons of a Hawaii investment property stand true in both popular destinations. Consider these key factors no matter which market you decide to zero in on.

Demand Is Strong Most of the Year

With warm weather year-round, Hawaii sees solid demand throughout the calendar. Travel tends to peak in late winter as vacationers escape to this beachy paradise from colder climates.

But interest continues through the spring, summer, and fall as well — which can translate to consistent bookings and rental income. This makes it especially important to get a new vacation rental five-star ready before opening your calendar to guests. Be sure to establish efficient-but-thorough cleaning and maintenance practices, too, so you’re always prepared for the next stay.

Some Amenities Are Attention-Grabbers

Between Hawaii’s heat and high humidity, our real estate experts say air conditioning is a hot commodity on any island. Pools are also a major perk, as are outdoor spaces with large decks so guests can embrace the surrounding natural beauty without leaving home. 

When it is time to explore, your vacation rental’s location should make that easy. Nearby beach access or true waterfront status are highly sought-after in Hawaii, and beach-friendly amenities (like umbrellas and snorkeling gear) can go a long way toward getting five-star reviews from guests. Consider proximity to local attractions as well (like Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, or Kauai’s Hāʻena State Park). This gives your rental a stronger chance of becoming a highly-bookable home base for adventure.

Also, no matter what property type you go for (say, a quaint inland cottage or a tried-and-true beach house), Hawaii travelers love resort-style vibes. It’s wise to upgrade spaces with luxe touches like smart TVs and WiFi, and to bring local charm to your indoor decor so guests can have a more authentic vacation. You can also provide welcome gifts, along with kid-friendly amenities to up the ante on your top-notch service.

Vacation Rental Regulations Are Common

Our experts say short-term rental regulations have intensified across many of the Hawaiian islands over the last few years. So it’s important to research market-specific restrictions and work with local agents who specialize in vacation rental to prepare for the process.

The Big Island, for instance, restricts rentals in certain zones. Meanwhile, Kauai puts parameters on lengths of stay and requires at least three or even four permits to operate. 

Honolulu has a full ban in place on all new short-term rentals. This is why — despite common interest in Honolulu investment properties — we’re not recommending a vacation rental investment on the island of Oahu. 

Though regulations can introduce more legwork upfront, a Hawaii investment property — particularly on the islands of Kauai and Big Island — can be worth the effort with the right due diligence and vacation rental experts on your side.

What to Know About Owning a Vacation Rental in Kauai

Waterfall and natural pool surrounded by lush green vegetation in Kauai, HI, a great place to own a Hawaii investment property

Kauai is an adventurer’s paradise. With a bit less tourism infrastructure than other Hawaiian islands, the Garden Isle feels more untouched and rugged. This makes it ideal for travelers wanting to go off the beaten path and escape crowds. 

The island has also had some serious silver screen time in the Jurassic Park series, so it’s easy to see how Kauai offers an almost other-worldly experience. 

When considering a Hawaii investment property in Kauai, note that there’s a two-person limit on every vacation rental bedroom. As a result, you won’t be able to maximize your guest capacity with things like multiple bunk beds or futons here. It can also take up to 180 days to get vacation rental licenses approved, so it may not be a fast turnaround from your date of purchase to when you start earning vacation rental revenue.

How Much Money Can You Earn with a Kauai Vacation Rental?

Kauai’s average home price currently sits around $970,000. Though expensive, Kauai has the highest ceiling for annual income of any Hawaiian market. That means owning a vacation rental here can be especially lucrative in the long-term. 

While five-bedroom homes tend to see the most annual revenue, two-bedroom properties take a fairly significant lead in year-round occupancy (with one-bedroom properties following close behind). These smaller homes also make up the vast majority of local availability inventory, giving investors more options with profit potential.

The island is small enough that proximity to great sites isn’t an issue — you’re likely to be a stone’s throw away from a hotspot like Hāʻena State Park or one of Kauai’s nine forest reserves no matter where you buy. But keep in mind that beach-view homes are always a bonus in such a beautiful place. Movie buffs also love Kauai’s connection to the Jurassic Park series, so searching for properties near classic film locations can help you capitalize on that interest and maximize earnings.

Download Our Kauai Vacation Rental Market Analysis

What to Know About Owning a Vacation Rental on the Big Island

An ocean view at sunset with palm trees silhouetted on a beach on the Kona Coast, a top location for a Hawaii investment property

With stark volcanic cliffs and black sand beaches, the Big Island is sure to inspire awe. Perhaps the most well-known in Hawaii’s island chain, there’s one region along its western shore that follows suit as its most popular vacation spot: the Kona Coast.

Naturally, that makes the Kona Coast the prime Big Island location for a Hawaii investment property. It sees a small demand slump in early fall that other islands don’t, but it has a high peak for occupancy rates — second only to Kauai. That can mean major cash flow opportunities for owners in busy seasons, with an end-of-summer breathing period that’s perfect for getting your own getaway on the books. 

This island’s caveat: short-term rentals on the Kona Coast are restricted to hotel, resort, commercial, and multi-family commercial zones. It’s important to reach out to the county before buying a Big Island vacation rental to double-check which zone your potential property sits in, and that it complies with local regulations.

How Much Money Can You Earn with a Kona Coast Vacation Rental?

Kona Coast home prices average around $860,000, making the area more affordable than its Kauai neighbor and a strong contender for the best place to invest in Hawaii.

Bigger properties tend to see the highest daily rates here, with four- and five-bedroom homes earning the most annual revenue on average. 

Like Kauai, however, you don’t need to invest in huge homes on the Big Island’s Kona Coast to be successful. One- to three-bedroom homes all tend to see a higher average number of nights booked in the calendar year than their four-bedroom counterparts, and a three-bedroom Evolve home was also our top performer in the last 12 months. This really just highlights the broader traveler appeal of this Hawaiian market. 

Since the Big Island’s unique terrain is what sets it apart, our experts say proximity to local attractions can have a massive impact on Kona Coast rental success. Look for homes near the recently-expanded Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, or by the black sands of Punaluʻu Beach. Coffee is also a big part of Kona’s culture, so offering an easy commute to the best places to enjoy it (and outlining those recommendations in your welcome book) can make guests buzz. 

Download Our Kona Coast Vacation Rental Market Analysis

Get Our Hawaii Vacation Rental Market Analyses

As a dream destination for travelers of all types, a Hawaii investment property can be really ideal for investors in search of massive demand in unmatched island landscapes. 

To get a closer look at the best places to invest in Hawaii, download our complete Vacation Rental Market Analyses for Kauai and the Big Island’s Kona Coast today. 

Each report includes helpful insights like:

Use our reports to equip yourself with the tools and knowledge needed for vacation rental investment success, and make your entry into the market a total breeze.

Vacation rentals with a private pool offer an escape worthy of daydreams. They invite you to cool off, bask in the sun, and spend golden hour al fresco — sipping a bevvy and enjoying your getaway to the fullest.

From desert backdrops to indoor oases ready for every season, we’ve rounded up our most-loved vacation rentals with private pools. So, bring your biggest shades, your favorite swimsuit, and a splash of fun. Let’s dive in.

Narrow your search to see the perfect rentals for poolside bliss on evolve.com. Filter by location, size, price, and even property type (so you can find your just-right home).

In This Article:
Desert Oasis Overlooking the Arizona Mountains
A Private Pool & Spa Near the Las Vegas Strip
Waterfront Vacation Rental with a Private Pool in the Ozarks
Oceanview Rental with Private Pool & Hawaii Palms
Retro Rental with a Heated Pool in Palm Springs
Lavish Lake Chelan Escape with Panoramic Views
Family Vacation Rental with a Private Pool in Nashville
Gorgeous Miramar Villa with a Lakeside Pool
Luxurious Michigan Getaway Right on the Water
Former Virginia Winery with Pool & Mountain Views
Private Bed & Breakfast Experience in Naples, NY
Gold Canyon Getaway with Private Pool & Fire Pit
Family-Friendly Austin Abode Near Lake Travis
Award-Winning Phoenix Villa with Infinity Pool & Views
Kailua Beach House with Backyard Oasis

1. Desert Oasis Overlooking the Arizona Mountains

Vacation rental with private pool overlooking the Arizona mountains surrounded by cacti, palm trees, and bushes

When you’re kicking back in this private backyard, you do it with a stunning Arizona vista — McDowell Mountains included. Under the palm fronds, you can soak in the hot tub, dine outdoors, and swim through a pool with its own water fountain. Just 30 minutes from Scottsdale and Tempe, AZ, your recreation and entertainment opportunities are endless.

Book your own oasis

2. A Private Pool & Spa Near the Las Vegas Strip

Large outdoor pool and hot tub located in the backyard of a vacation rental property, surrounded by palm trees and flowering bushes.

The lush, tropical backyard of this Las Vegas, NV rental transports you to a private paradise between the Strip and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Whether you choose to hike through the canyons or the casinos, you’ll always return home to jump into the private, sparkling pool and unwind in the rejuvenating waters of the spa.

Book your Vegas vacay

3.Waterfront Vacation Rental with a Private Pool in the Ozarks

Large deck with an outdoor pool overlooks the Lake of the Ozarks

Located right on the Lake of the Ozarks, this five-bedroom home invites you to lounge poolside, unwind on the deck, and enjoy dinner with million-dollar main channel views. And we mean it: the pool directly overlooks the water with surrounding trees for ultimate privacy. Just be sure to plan your trip accordingly, because this seasonal pool isn’t open in colder months.

Book luxury on the lake

4. Oceanview Rental with Private Pool & Hawaii Palms

Private deck and pool overlooking Keauhou Bay, surrounded by palm trees and tropical plans

When it comes to oceanfront vacation rentals with private pool spaces, the Hawaiian islands are a great place to start. And this four-bedroom Kailua-Kona escape brings a lot to the table: open, contemporary design, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Keauhou Bay, and a pool paradise with its own private deck. When the saltwater calls, kayaking and fishing await within walking distance.

Book your big island retreat

5. Retro Rental with a Heated Pool in Palm Springs

Mid-century modern home sits next to a bright outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees

This mid-century home in Palm Springs, CA invites you to sip your favorite drink by the heated pool while splashes of color and vintage decor take you back to the city’s early days. After basking in the sun with the Tahquitz Creek Golf Course as your backdrop, head downtown to experience the art, food, and culture this destination is famous for.

Book your Palm Springs pool

6. Lavish Lake Chelan Escape with Panoramic Views

Luxury modern home with a patio and pool surrounded by patio furniture and views of the Cascade Mountains

With Lake Chelan landscapes available indoors and out, this modern home in Manson, WA will “wow” you at every turn. Take a dip in the pool overlooking the Cascade Mountains, and cook a gourmet dinner in the beautifully appointed kitchen. When you’re ready to venture off-property, multiple golf courses and local wineries are at your fingertips!

Book your lakeside lounge

7. Family Vacation Rental with a Private Pool in Nashville

Vacation rental with private pool and patio, an outdoor grill, and beach chairs

Complete with a billiards table, furnished poolside patio, and modern kitchen, this Nashville home rental is packed with fun less than five miles from the heart of Broadway. Corral your friends and family for a dip in the seasonal pool (closed from October 1st to June 1st), play a game of pickup basketball, or head out for the sights and sounds of Music Row. As a bonus adventure, the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center is right in the neighborhood.

Book your Music City sanctuary

With so many vacation rentals to choose from, why not start with the best of the best? Our best places to stay winners offer incredible experiences all over the country.

8. Gorgeous Miramar Villa with a Lakeside Pool

Villa with private patio and pool looking out over a lakefront, surrounded by palm trees and decorated with string lights

Get your getaway on Florida’s bustling southern coast. Decked out with sparkling string lights, this Miramar, FL vacation home has a private pool on the lakefront. You can gather around the firepit, cook at the grill, and lounge by the record player inside. Take your time before heading out to Miami or Fort Lauderdale just 30 minutes away.

Book your marvelous Villa

9. Luxurious Michigan Getaway Right on the Water

Large indoor pool in a vacation rental near Union Pier, MI. The open layout with windows allows a lot of light to fill up the fun space.

Just a few steps from the shores of Lake Michigan, this private vacation rental in Union Pier, MI takes your escape up a few notches. You can swim through the heated indoor pool, play a game on the private tennis court, unwind in the sauna, and enjoy private beach access all from the comfort of home. Then, head out to enjoy the scenery of Warren Dunes State Park or the sips of St. Julian Winery.

Book your Michigan masterpiece

10. Former Virginia Winery with Pool & Mountain Views

Large deck and outdoor pool overlooks the Virginia mountains at sunset

This eight-bedroom villa in Berryville, VA is nestled on the peaceful property of a former vineyard. Bring the whole gang to enjoy mountain views from the massive deck, swing and climb on the children’s playset, picnic on the sprawling lawn, and catch the sunset from the pool. And you haven’t even left the home yet! Beyond these acres, you’re surrounded by hiking trails, local breweries, and day trip destinations like Shenandoah National Park.

Book your vineyard getaway

Not quite ready to book? You can favorite your top vacation rentals to save and reference next time you’re planning the perfect poolside getaway.

11. Private Bed & Breakfast Experience in Naples, NY

Large deck including a pool, fire pit, grill, and chairs looks out over the panoramic views of Canandaigua Lake and the surrounding hills

Nestled in the hills of Naples, NY, this spacious vacation home sleeps 10 guests who can sit by the fire pit, lounge in the hot tub, swim in the private, heated pool, and take in the panoramic views of Canandaigua Lake. With all of the essentials provided, create your own bed and breakfast experience and surround yourself with nature views from nearly every window.

Book your new Naples fave

12. Gold Canyon Getaway with Private Pool & Fire Pit

Outdoor pool in Gold Canyon, AZ

Beat the heat at this sun-dappled desert oasis, complete with a private pool and waterfall. Pack your SPF and roam the otherworldly peaks and valleys of Lost Dutchman State Park, or explore all that downtown Phoenix has to offer, from botanical gardens to golf courses. Come home to make a splash at this 3-bedroom, 2-bath, ranch-style rental — chic vibes included.

Book your Arizona oasis

13. Family-Friendly Austin Abode Near Lake Travis

Two lounge chairs next to an outdoor pool on a sunny day

Fit for swimmers of all age groups, this upscale Austin rental puts you close to the sweeping shores of Lake Travis, but even closer to the temperate waters of the sparkling backyard pool. Bring the whole family along to spread out amongst 5 bedrooms and 4 baths, and discover kid-friendly amenities that are perfect for all-day entertainment (hello, bocce ball and shuffleboard).

Book your Austin escape

14. Award-Winning Phoenix Villa with Infinity Pool & Views

Infinity pool overlooking the desert

Though it’s in the middle of the desert, this luxury Phoenix vacation rental is no mirage. Straight out of the pages of a magazine — it’s been featured in Phoenix Home & Garden — this 2-bedroom, 2-bath beauty boasts tons of top amenities. Gaze upon long-range mountain views from the infinity pool, or settle into the shade of the massive cabana as you sip cocktails from the outdoor bar. Stay the night for awe-inspiring sunsets, star-filled desert skies, and all the vibes of an exclusive resort.

Book your Sonoran holiday

15. Kailua Beach House with Backyard Oasis

Outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees

You’ll feel like you’ve got the island to yourself at this dreamy 3-bedroom, 3-bath vacation rental on Oahu. Take a dip surrounded by lush greenery, rinse off in the outdoor shower, and spend a lazy afternoon lounging in the open-air lanai. When you get the itch to explore, venture just steps to Lanikai Beach, where you’ll stumble upon screensaver-worthy views with a dash of a balmy seaside breeze.

Book your island sanctuary

Rest Easy by Your Own Private Pool

When you book with Evolve, you’ll master your butterfly stroke without a care in the world. All of our vacation rentals with private pools (and without) are backed by our Rest Easy Promise. That means you’ll arrive at a home that’s clean, safe, easy-to-access, and true to everything you saw online — or we’ll make it right.

Find more poolside getaways

Ready to venture beyond the water? Check out our top tiny homes, most luxurious stays, and best small towns for even more tantalizing travel.

One of the many reasons travelers choose unique vacation rentals over a run-of-the-mill hotel chain: the built-in experiences they offer. After all, there’s a certain thrill attached to booking a cool, private home that allows you to fully tap into your best vacation self. 

Whether you want to bring the whole family or find a one-of-a-kind vacation rental for two, these unique homes will inspire a forever-talked-about adventure.

Don’t forget: you can favorite your top picks now for easy reference when planning your future vacations.

In This Article:
Renovated Horse Farm Bunkhouse
Houseboat in Bay St. Louis
Luxury Barndominium
Medieval Missouri Castle
Renovated Fire Station
The “Balinese” Oasis
Castle of Joy
Roller Rink Loon Lodge
Lakeside Cabin with Yurt
Converted Caboose Studio
The Pink-Packed Pad
Riverside Storage Container
A Disney Lover’s Dream Home
A Schoolhouse Studio
The Luxury Treehouse
Wild West Cottage 
Spanish-Style Studio with Garden
Ted Williams’ Former Home
Charming Mermaid Hideaway
A Nascar Fan’s Bucket List Home
Renovated Gas Station

1. Renovated Horse Farm Bunkhouse

Renovated bunkhouse in Perrysville, OH

Giddy up for a one-of-a-kind stay at this renovated bunkhouse on a 12-acre farm. Countryside seekers and equestrians alike will adore everything this unique vacation rental has to offer, from the western-themed interior to the private, peaceful setting —  complete with views of the resident horses. 

Saddle up to explore the sprawling farmland, or venture out to the abundant state parks that surround the area. Traveling with your trusty steed? A horse-friendly policy makes this spacious studio that much sweeter.

 Book your renovated horse farm bunkhouse

2. Bay St. Louis Houseboat

Houseboat in Bay St. Louis, MO

They say saltwater heals all, and at this cozy houseboat rental in Bay St. Louis, you’ll be calling yourself a coastal nomad in no time. Bring your pets along to get their paws wet, or treat your sweetheart to all that this unique Airbnb has to offer, like the tranquil waterfront views and direct canal access.

Once you’ve gained your sea legs, venture back on solid ground to wander the colorful streets of Old Town, where you’ll soak in the small-town seaside charm before returning to a balmy Gulf Coast breeze on the private deck.

 Book your Bay St. Louis houseboat

3. Luxury Barndominium

Luxary barndominium in Walworth, WI

Rustic farmhouse meets luxury compound at this renovated barn, complete with twin silos that boast floor-to-ceiling views. Bring 18 of your favorite friends along to discover a variety of entertaining amenities, including a spacious deck, a massive stone fireplace, and even a home theater and gym. 

Though you might feel in a world of your own, this unique vacation rental is centrally located for everything from local wedding festivities to large-group getaways on Lake Geneva. And let’s not forget the abundance of photo ops — whether you’re lounging in the great room or posing by the facade, you’ll want to capture all the memories you’re sure to make at this one-of-a-kind ‘Barndominium.’

Book your luxury barndominium

4. Medieval Missouri Castle

Medieval style castle in Saint Mary, MO

Get the royal treatment at this sprawling private castle, boasting nearly 7,000 square feet on a whopping 100 acres. Brimming with Game of Thrones-esque features, this unique Airbnb comes with an indoor pool, fishing lake, medieval furnishings, private hiking trails, and plenty of amenities to help you live like a king or queen.

While the architecture is appealing in and of itself, the spacious Old World-themed rooms are perfect for Instagrammable moments during weddings, family reunions, and any sort of large-group retreat. If your jaw hasn’t hit the floor yet, visit the on-site waterfall — all yours for the exploring.

Book your medieval Missouri castle

5. Renovated Fire Station

Image of the dining room of a renovated fire station in Tulsa Oklahoma, vacation rental home

The furnishings of this historic, renovated fire station fully lean into the theme of its original space. Available to book in Tulsa, OK, every detail adds to the firehouse vibes inside — from the hanging helmets to the firetruck couch — while the home’s outdoor spaces are primed for yard games and activities. 

Cook up a good meal on the grill, hang on the private patio, or warm up by the fire pit before heading inside for the ultimate sleepover (there’s room to sleep six). With no steps needed to access this unique rental, it’s a home base fit for all.

Book your renovated fire station

Speaking of support: All of our homes are backed by our Rest Easy Promise that your one-of-a-kind vacation rental will be safe, clean, and ready for you and your loved ones’ arrival.

6. The “Balinese” Oasis

Tropical vacation property rental on Florida's eastern coast with palm trees, water access, and a hut for shade

Treat yourself to an international experience without needing to stamp your passport. This tropical sanctuary on Florida’s eastern coast is loaded with spa-like amenities (hello soaking tub, tiki huts, and waterfront hammocks), making it the perfect destination for honeymoons and girls’ trips alike. 

From nearby white-sand beaches to bottlenose dolphins splashing around a lagoon, there’s no shortage of memorable adventures right outside your door. This cool place to rent is sure to delight travelers of all types — and it never hurts to feel like you’ve traveled internationally while saving time and money.

Book your “Bali House” trip

7. Castle of Joy

Castle vacation rental with drawbridge and trees surrounding

Live your full-on renaissance fantasy when you stay in this epic castle, complete with a drawbridge and portcullis. When you first arrive, you’ll want to wander the 11 acres of beautiful terrain surrounding the grand stone fortress, then soak up the regal vibe of the luxurious decor inside. Of course, this home also takes you out of the dark ages and into modern comfort with a private hot tub on the terrace, where you’ll soak in great mountain views amidst your old-world surroundings. 

Whether you’re visiting to explore the stunning fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains or opting for a home you hath not leave for days, this majestic home is a perfect choice.

Book your regal retreat

8. Roller Rink Loon Lodge

Roller rink inside The Loon Lodge vacation rental in Hatfield, Wisconsin

Discover an extraordinary getaway in this sprawling Hatfield cabin, where you’ll find an in-home roller rink, a full-sized bar with booth seating, a quality sound system to blast your favorite tunes, and room for up to 15 guests. Indoor entertainment continues with pool, foosball, and air hockey tables — AKA it’s the perfect family-friendly getaway!

When you’re craving a nature fix, pop off your skates and walk over to Lake Arbutus, where boating, fishing, and serene water views will greet you. Then return to your unique cabin rental and cozy up next to the fire pit under a starlit sky.

Book your roller rink Loon Lodge

Craving more unique cabin rentals? Check out our handpicked list of the coziest cabins that promise the ultimate hygge experience.

9. Lakeside Cabin with Yurt

Interior shot from inside a yurt, looking out the window to a lakeside view in a vacation rental

Wake up to lake views like never before when you stay in this picturesque Minnesota cabin with a waterside yurt. The cabin’s gorgeous coffee bar and wrap-around deck are complemented by an outdoor fire pit, private docks (with slide!), and modern yurt that truly steals the show. 

When it’s time for daily breaks from swimming in the lake, cook together in your unique cabin rental’s fully-equipped kitchen or grill out on the patio for a meal to remember. Spend your evenings watching the sun fade over the water from the deck — or from the comfort of your yurt.  

Book your lakeside cabin & yurt

10. Converted Caboose Studio

Unique vacation rental home built in an old train car and caboose with outdoor benches and a vintage railroad crossing sign.

Conduct your perfect vacation inside this converted train car studio. The old-school caboose gives you (and one travel buddy) a queen bed, full bath, stocked kitchenette, free WiFi, and a Smart TV — all surrounded by modern decor that honors the car’s railroad history.

Perched just a few minutes from charming downtown Joplin, it’s easy to stroll, shop, sip, and savor. Bring your camera to explore Route 66 Mural Park, but leave room on the roll for pics back at your place. This is a railway getaway you’ll definitely want to remember.

Book your train car vacay

11. The Pink-Packed Pad

Pink themed living room in a Tulsa, Oklahoma vacation rental

Nestled in the heart of Tulsa, this vibrant, themed vacation rental boasts a full, sleek kitchen, a flood of cozy seating areas, and tons of natural lighting to amplify the colorful decor. With room for six, a private hot tub, and Tulsa’s top cultural attractions just a walk away, this playful, flamingo-forward hotspot makes for the perfect girls’ — or Barbie-themed — weekend.

Catch captivating performances at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, discover local events at Expo Square, or try your luck at the nearby Osage Casino. After your adventures, return to the tropical charm of your retreat — where every corner invites relaxation and enjoyment.

Book your pink-packed pad

12. Riverside Shipping Container

Unique shipping container vacation rental near Branson, MO

If rich history, bold character, and wide-open spaces make your list of vacation must-haves, you won’t want to miss out on this shipping container home. Family-run since 1899, the 400 acres of organic farmland give you plenty of room to roam — along with direct access to the Spring River — while the modern living space is a perfect fit for four.

Pack your days with new experiences in nearby Branson, then come back home for incredible stargazing from the large deck. (You can also warm up by the fire pit during chillier seasons.)

Book your shipping container

13. A Disney Lover’s Dream Home

Family-friendly vacation rental near Disney in Orlando with arcade games and themed rooms

When it comes to family-friendly retreats, this themed vacation rental near Disney (it’s a mere 10 minutes away) stands out from the rest. With an action-packed game room, heart-warming references to your favorite characters, and space for 10, it’s the perfect accommodation for a multi-generational family adventure.

After a fun-filled day in Orlando, you can take a break from the crowds and dip in your private swimming pool. Or, challenge your companions to a competitive game of foosball in the air-conditioned arcade. Wherever your Disney vacation ideas lead you, when staying here you’re pretty much guaranteed to make lifelong memories with the ones you love most (and Mickey Mouse, of course).

Book your dream Disney home

14. A Schoolhouse Studio

Renovated schoolhouse vacation rental property near Kearneysville, WV

Entertain your inner history buff by making a renovated schoolhouse your vacation home base. Complete with quirky decor like old school desks and chalkboards — and nostalgic games like marbles and jacks — it’s an affordable vacation rental that’s certainly far from ordinary. 

And since every school session needs time for recess, it’s convenient that this West Virginia studio is just minutes from vineyards and hiking trails. The studious traveler can also grab a book and unwind by the gas fire pit in the private backyard, making this unique home a solid A+.

Book your schoolhouse studio

15. The Luxury Treehouse

Luxury treehouse vacation rental located Hilton Head Island, SC

Star in your own whimsical adventure when you stay in this fancy treehouse rental on Hilton Head Island. Fit for six guests, its light-filled interior and panoramic views offer a truly unique treehouse experience. Whether you’re inside cooking up a favorite meal or relaxing on the private deck, the airy architecture keeps you connected to nature throughout your stay.

You can also venture out to explore 12 miles of beaches, historic local hotspots, and a full range of good eats found in Hilton Head. Once you’re ready to unwind, your upscale treehouse is a welcoming retreat for watching the sun set over the marsh.

Book your luxury treehouse

16. Wild West Cottage

Western themed cottage in Phoenix, Arizona

Round up your best buds for a trip to the Wild West at this rustic Phoenix saloon, full of authentic charm. Start your day soaking up the desert scenery from your porch, then whip up a delicious meal in your fully-stocked kitchen. When you’re ready for a thrill, make a splash at nearby Lake Pleasant, take a hike on Black Mountain Trail, or check on your golf swing at Dove Valley Ranch. 

When the adrenaline fades, kick back in your cozy living room and fire up the SmartTV, break out a board game for some competitive fun, or get the outdoor firepit ready for evening enjoyment — just don’t forget the s’mores supplies.

 Book your Wild West cottage

17. Spanish-Style Studio with Garden

Exterior image of the backyard of a spanish style vacation rental home in Whittier, California

Spanish architecture meets California gardens in this charming studio with an enchanting outdoor area. Sip morning coffee under the orange tree before heading to nearby Disneyland, or wind down by the fire pit after a busy day exploring downtown Los Angeles.

If sandy toes are more your style, Long Beach and Mother Beach are both close by. After soaking up the sun and salty air, your cozy rental will welcome you with modern comforts (like a SmartTV and air conditioning) so you can relax with ease. 

Book your Spanish-style studio

18. Ted Williams’ Former Home

Famous Ted Williams statue in yard of unique Vermont vacation rental that used to be Ted Williams' home

It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to claim a Red Sox Hall of Famer’s home as your own. Ted Williams and his Vogue model wife, Dolores, previously lived in this Vermont haven. Filled with memorabilia from his 19-year MLB career in Boston, it’s a baseball family’s dream getaway. You can even take a seat next to Williams himself (in statue form) while the whole crew roasts marshmallows by the fire. 

Of course, a trip to this unique vacation rental wouldn’t be complete without exploring nearby Killington Mountain or fishing in the Connecticut River. Once back home, make time to enjoy the expansive backyard with a few rounds of catch.

Book your Red Sox retreat

19. Charming Mermaid Hideaway

Photo of brightly-colored, mermaid-themed vacation rental backyard with an outdoor bar, set of chairs around a table, and a large leaning tree in Weeki Wachee, FL

Nestled along the Weeki Wachee River, this charming Florida oasis is the perfect place to relax under the sun and explore the vibrant local scene. Every space in this home bursts with color, from the aqua-hued driveway and striped exterior to the mermaid-adorned steps down to your private riverfront.

When you’re ready to adventure, hop in one of three complimentary kayaks and cruise alongside friendly manatees, or load up the kids and head over to Weeki Wachee Springs for underwater performances by local mermaids. When it’s time to refuel at the end of an action-packed day, the outdoor kitchen and bar area makes at-home meals a breeze.

Book your mermaid hideaway

20. A NASCAR Fan’s Bucket List Home

Vacation rental living room and kitchen area with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX

Calling all NASCAR fans! This luxurious Fort Worth condo is the ideal place to watch your favorite drivers tear up the track. Fit for eight guests, this unique vacation rental features a 12-seat viewing area of Texas Motor Speedway with floor-to-ceiling windows.

When you’re not watching NASCAR or sun-bathing by the community pool, you can head into downtown Fort Worth to enjoy all the top things to do, or make a day trip to nearby Dallas. However you plan to kick back and relax, this one-of-a-kind home base puts you in the driver’s seat of an epic adventure.

Book your nascar dream house

21. Renovated Gas Station

Renovated Sinclair gas station vacation rental located in Schulenburg, TX

Formerly a full-service Sinclair, this gas station vacation home in Schulenburg, TX is bursting with personality. The functional ’50s jukebox and historic decor give blast-from-the-past energy, while the huge windows let in tons of natural light. And with a fenced-in backyard — not to mention a fire pit, grill, and backyard games — you’re guaranteed a getaway to be pumped about. 

Snap a few photos in front of the property’s mural before heading out for an afternoon of local wine tasting, or wind down from a day trip to Austin with stargazing on the rooftop deck. With loads of character and must-have amenities, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique place to rent.

Book your gas station getaway

Find Unique Vacation Rentals for You

If exciting and memorable experiences are what you’re after, these unique vacation rentals are sure to deliver. And no matter where your inner adventurer takes you next, you can rest easy knowing your comfort is the highest priority when you book with Evolve.

Find your unique home

Looking for more travel inspiration? From desert escapes and luxurious getaways to family road trip itineraries and wine regions worth exploring, we have plenty of ideas to help plan your next vacation.

Let’s face it: traveling without pets isn’t as fun as traveling with them. And as more families become fur moms and dads, the demand for pet-friendly vacations continues to rise. 

In fact, a recent survey revealed over 40% of U.S. dog owners brought their pet on vacation last year. The only question is, where should you go?  

The answer? One of these dog-friendly destinations. Trust us when we say both you and your four-legged friend will be in for a real treat.

Not sure where to stay? We’ve got you covered with pet-friendly vacation rentals across the country. 

In This Article:
Asheville, NC
Gatlinburg, TN
Breckenridge, CO
Fort Myers, FL
Branson, MO
Austin, TX
Atlanta, GA
Bend, OR
Provincetown, MA
San Diego, CA

1. Asheville, NC

Pet-friendly vacation rental with large yard in Asheville, NC

There’s nothing quite like taking an active adventure with your loyal companion, especially when it’s in a place where the views are unmatched — like in Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. This dog-lover’s sweet spot offers countless outdoor activities for you and your pup. Start your day with a stroll through the North Carolina Arboretum, beat the heat with a float down the French Broad River, or get your hearts pumping with a hike around Craggy Gardens. When it’s time to relax, share a picnic in the park while watching the Montford Park Players perform Shakespeare.

See pet-friendly Asheville homes

2. Gatlinburg, TN

A-frame cabin rental near Gatlinburg, TN

Tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg has  tons of opportunities to connect with nature while bonding with the ones you love most on a pet-friendly family vacation. Venture to Great Smoky Mountain National Park and hike the Gatlinburg Trail and Oconaluftee River Trail with your pup. Or grab your swimsuit, sunnies, and four-legged buddy and enjoy a relaxing float down the Little River. When it’s time to cut loose, Mills Dog Park has plenty of room to roam and two separate areas for different sized doggos.

A trip to Gatlinburg isn’t complete without experiencing Dollywood either, so it’s a good thing your pup can enjoy their own version of the theme park at Doggywood.

See pet-friendly Gatlinburg homes

3. Breckenridge, CO

Brightly-lit interior living space in a Breckenridge, CO vacation rental

Head to one of America’s favorite mountain towns for the pet-friendly vacation of a lifetime. There’s no shortage of exciting things to do, whether you want to ride the Breck Gondola (yes, fur-friends are allowed!), sip your worries away at the award-winning Breckenridge Distillery, or run wild at the Carter Dog Park

Plus, Denver is a short 1.5-hour drive away. There you can continue the dog-friendly fun with a day trip to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Romeo’s K9 Tap, or Chautauqua Park. There’s even a 107-acre DOLA (Dog Off-Leash Area) at Cherry Creek State Park with water access for pups who love to get their paws wet.

See pet-friendly Breckenridge homes

4. Fort Myers, FL

Large breezeway living space in vacation rental home near pet-friendly Fort Myers, FL

If you’re in need of pet-friendly vacations in Florida (not to mention endless supplies of vitamin D), look no further than Fort Myers. It’s where you can enjoy a game of fetch on Fort Myers Beach, or head out on a guided boat tour to see local dolphins with your furry friend nearby. 

While you’re in the area, consider checking out nearby Fort Lauderdale. It’s only two hours away, and Snyder Dog Park and Coconuts are worth the road trip adventure.

See pet-friendly Fort Myers homes

5. Branson, MO

View of large decks in row of attached rental cabins in the pet-friendly vacation destination of Branson, MO

Not only a prime destination for gathering your favorite people, Branson also happens to be the perfect midwest location for a pet-friendly family vacation. With endless sources of entertainment, you and your four-legged companion may have trouble fitting it all in. Your can’t-miss activities: hitting the trails at Table Rock State Park, shopping at Don’t 4 Get About Me, and floating on the lake in a rented pontoon for some fun and sun. Need the perfect memento? Play doggy dress-up at Buster’s Old Time Photos for an adorable vintage photoshoot.

See pet-friendly Branson homes

6. Austin, TX

Rental home with balcony overlooking lush forest near Austin, TX

Known for its tasty food, live music, and intentional focus on easy living, Austin can deliver one of the best dog-friendly vacations. Take a walk around Lady Bird Lake, or soak in the city’s landscape at Auditorium Shores dog park while your treat-loving pal enjoys all the freedom to roam. 

When you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, you’ll find endless pet-friendly restaurants in Austin — local pub Austin Terrier, Yard Bar, and Moonshine Grill are top picks for humans and pooches alike.

See pet-friendly Austin homes

7. Atlanta, GA

Home with fenced-in backyard in Atlanta, GA, perfect for a pet-friendly vacation

A hidden treasure for dog adventures, Atlanta is an up-and-coming hotspot that’s filling up with activities fit for the best pet-friendly vacations. Take a blissful stroll around Centennial Olympic Park — a true dog-lover’s dream in the heart of downtown. You can also experience Bark at the Park with the Atlanta Braves, or snag a bite to eat at Bold Monk Brewing Co (along with a slew of other dog-friendly patios in the area).

 See pet-friendly Atlanta homes

8. Bend, OR

Saloon vacation rental property with large yard near Bend, OR

A popular destination for dog-lovers and adventurers combined, Bend is home to dog-friendly vacation rentals along the Oregon coast. Once unpacked, you can enjoy a gorgeous hike along tree-lined mountain trails, then sip on a tasty craft brew at Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. while your trusty companion takes a nap on the porch.

If a more relaxed outdoor experience is what your pup needs, you can also enjoy one of many dog parks fit for your best buddy — or doggy paddle in the Deschutes River until it’s time for the next adventure.

See pet-friendly Bend homes

9. Provincetown, MA

Two-story pet-friendly vacation rental in Provincetown, MA

An escape to the east coast doesn’t get more fun than a trip to Provincetown. This dog-friendly destination is home to a variety of outdoor pup-tivities, including the award-winning Pilgrim Bark Park — a green space filled with local art, water fountains, and wagging tails. And if you’re looking for a quieter experience, it’s easy to pack some snacks and sail around Cape Cod Bay on a guided tour. 

With all this east coast hideaway has to offer, it’s really no surprise that Dog Fancy magazine once named Provincetown the most dog-friendly town in the United States.

See pet-friendly Provincetown homes

10. San Diego, CA

Modern living room in a San Diego, CA vacation rental that is great for pets

What could be more on-brand for your pet-friendly vacation than traveling to Dog Beach, America’s original pup-friendly shoreline? San Diego offers nearly perfect year-round weather, miles of open beach space for you and your pal to explore and, of course, all the eats and drinks your inner vacationer could wish for. Pack up the snacks (and dog treats!) before exploring Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island, and Del Mar.

See pet-friendly San Diego homes

Plan the Perfect Pet-Friendly Vacations with Evolve

If the best dog-friendly vacations are what you’re after, these destinations are sure to accommodate all of your human and canine needs. And no matter where your inner adventurer takes you and your furry friends next, you can rest easy knowing your comfort is the highest priority when you book with Evolve.

Find pet-friendly vacation rentals

There’s more travel inspiration where that came from, too. From the most unique vacation rentals you can stay in to the best star-gazing spots and desert destinations, we have plenty of ideas to help plan your next vacation.

From snowbirds escaping winter weather to city-dwellers seeking a break from everyday life, Palm Springs draws year-round crowds to its diverse range of attractions.

There’s no shortage of travel buzz for this desert destination, either: exploring the great outdoors, dancing to live music, and hitting world-class fairways are just a few reasons over 14 million travelers visit every year — making Palm Springs a hot market for real estate investors looking to turn a profit, too.

To help you understand what a Palm Springs investment property can offer, we created a free downloadable vacation rental market analysis. Inside you’ll find: 

The findings in this analysis are based on Evolve’s Palm Springs market averages in the last year and provide a general baseline for performance potential. They’re designed to help you make informed decisions when buying a vacation rental in Palm Springs.

Download Our Complete Palm Springs Vacation Rental Investment Analysis

Green icon of a house with shrubs and stars

Why Palm Springs Is a Great Place to Own Vacation Rental Property

With warm weather year-round and close proximity to Los Angeles and San Diego, the Palm Springs area provides a welcome escape for all kinds of travelers, giving vacation rental owners the opportunity for near-constant bookings. 

That said, Palm Springs does see one major high season each year. Demand hits its peak between winter and spring, as visitors from snowy corners of the country seek sunshine and festival-goers flock to Coachella. In summer, outdoor enthusiasts, weekend warriors, and families on school break swing through the area to enjoy the magic of this desert landscape, creating a smaller — but still worthwhile — travel surge for investors to capitalize on.

It’s also worth noting that travelers gravitate toward the privacy and freedom a vacation rental offers; the city says approximately 600,000 visitors choose non-hotel accommodations each year. Between the undeniable general demand and the particular value of vacation rentals, the right Palm Springs investment property can capture high occupancy and solid income. 

The median list price in Palm Springs proper hovers around $655,000. But you can also find more affordable — or even more lavish — properties in neighboring towns. Those in the affluent Rancho Mirage near $883,000, while prices in Indio and Palm Desert sit just under $514,000 and $562,000 respectively. And in Desert Hot Springs, a town on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park and only 20 minutes from Palm Springs, list prices are just under $379,000. This means investors can uncover options across a broad budget spectrum, all of which have the potential to drive major profit.

Green icon of a crystal ball with the words "profit prediction" in the middle with stars

How Much Money Can You Earn with a Palm Springs Vacation Rental?

Many travelers are seeking a home base for an annual getaway or weekend escape, so buying a vacation rental in Palm Springs could allow for repeat guests year after year. To maximize your earnings and gauge how valuable your home could be in the market, there are several factors to consider.

Property Size

Our real estate experts say properties with higher bedroom counts tend to book up faster and earn more for owners, since they cater to families and larger group getaways. 

One-, three-, and five-bedroom homes see the most nights booked throughout the year, with three-bedroom properties accounting for the most available local inventory. Five-bedroom homes also bring in the highest revenue overall, but they make up the smallest percentage of Palm Springs inventory. 

Splitting the difference gives investors the best of both worlds, with high rates, high occupancy, and solid inventory. Plus, Evolve’s top-performing home in the area is a three-bedroom investment property. 

Property Location

Our experts also say proximity to area attractions is key to capturing bookings. Look for homes close to downtown Palm Springs, in Indio for Coachella, or near Joshua Tree National Park to give travelers convenient commutes to top activities. Many coming to the area also want to frequent the endless fairways in Palm Desert, so homes near or on golf courses can be major money-makers, too.

Property Amenities

With such a high influx of annual visitors and a preference for private accommodations, having the right in-home amenities is what it takes to make sure visitors choose your home over others — and leave five-star reviews.

To earn the attention of larger groups and families, be sure to take advantage of your property’s size and up your capacity with sleeper sofas and bunk beds. Offer kid-friendly additions like cribs and games to make traveling with little ones (and keeping them happy) a breath of fresh air in the desert heat. You might consider taking your home’s appeal further by going pet-friendly — and driving more rental income as a result.

And to make the most of that beautiful (but hot!) Palm Springs weather, provide outdoor living spaces that help travelers slip into their surroundings comfortably. Guests look for a private patio with shaded areas, a pool for cooling down, and a grill for barbecuing with loved ones. Back inside, air conditioning is a must-have.

Download Our Full Palm Springs Area Vacation Rental Market Analysis

With outdoor adventure, endless shopping, and iconic festivals at a traveler’s doorstep, the Palm Springs area invites year-round tourism with limitless earning potential for vacation rental owners.

No matter your personal and financial goals, we’ve crunched the numbers to help you make the most of a Palm Springs investment property. Download our full Palm Springs Vacation Rental Market Analysis to find:

Evaluating your investment opportunities shouldn’t leave you feeling stranded in the desert. Use our report to guide your next steps toward buying a vacation rental in Palm Springs, and propel your income potential to new heights.

If there’s one thing every successful vacation rental owner needs to be, it’s adaptable. Industry trends are constantly changing, and your revenue optimization strategies must continually change with it to maximize rental income.

But with all the nuance of shifting market conditions, there are also actions owners can take with consistent profit-driving value — those you should repeatedly revisit to set yourself up for success in any vacation rental landscape.

And it’s more important than ever to make these moves now. An ongoing imbalance between supply and demand growth this last year has created a highly competitive traveler’s market, where winning bookings means leveling up every aspect of your business.

Oh, and make no mistake: there’s still plenty of revenue opportunity to grab across the U.S. — nearly $19.8 billion worth in 2024. It’s all a matter of how you strategize. So, here’s how to maximize vacation rental income this year and make the most of your performance potential.

In This Article:
Invest in Valuable Amenities and Upgrades 
Update Your Decor
Keep Your Listing Up to Date
Take Advantage of Your Property Size
Open Your Calendar for Bookings
Consider (and Re-Consider) Your Policies
Use Dynamic Pricing
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Upsell Perks and Experiences
Encourage Positive Reviews

1. Invest in Valuable Amenities and Upgrades

When guests search for vacation rentals, they know what they want. Investing in the things that draw the most attention from travelers in your area puts your home in the running for more bookings — and boosts the value of one. This not only gives your rental a competitive edge, but also an opportunity to increase rates and drive more income.

There are even certain amenities that guests want to book no matter their destination. Data shows properties with hot tubs, for instance, tend to see 29% more bookings throughout the year nationwide than those without.

Other amenities have region-specific value — like outdoor gear in the South and pet-friendly adds out West — so zeroing in on what has the most impact locally is the next step in leveling up your investment opportunity.

To truly maximize your vacation rental income, the best time to upgrade amenities is in your market’s shoulder or off seasons. That’s when you’re likely to have more time between bookings, so you can make in-home changes without impacting the guest experience and you’ll be prepped in time for high-season volume.

That said, the sooner you invest in your home’s value, the sooner you can reap the rewards. So if you have the time and resources to install upgrades quickly — again, without disrupting the chance for your guests to give a five-star review — jump on your earliest opportunity.

2. Update Your Decor

How your vacation rental is furnished can also make a significant impact on your revenue potential. Once a guest locks in their must-have search criteria (like location, property size, and key amenities), they’re shopping visually. In fact, 75% of online shoppers rely on photos to inform their buying decisions. Great interior design helps your listing pop in search results and inspires travelers to book — and can drive higher rates.

Our design and furnishing partner provides expert staging support with profit-driving results, helping owners increase nightly revenue by 22% on average

When purchasing furniture and decor, create a cohesive style that keeps your potential guests top of mind. Neutral color palettes can appeal to a wide variety of bookers, but you could also consider what details might play well for travelers to your area. Cozy throw blankets and plush rugs can warm up mountain cabins, for instance, while airy, coastal accents might tie in well for a beachfront home. If family vacations are popular in your market, make your furniture and decorative touches kid-friendly, and consider designing fun play spaces or kids’ bedrooms.

You also always have the option to really lean into a theme, like a cult-classic movie or historical era. When you outfit your property to be a unique vacation rental, you can further distinguish yourself from local competitors and make your home the click-worthy destination in your area.       

Of course, you don’t just want your decor to look great — you want it to be great. Prioritize: 

3. Keep Your Listing Up to Date

While it’s always important to keep your rental as-advertised, it’s especially important when you invest in amenities or significant decor updates. Making sure your listing reflects new profit-driving perks can help you rank higher in guest searches and show up in more of them. Offering high-value adds and great design can also allow you to charge more per booking, which could translate to more vacation rental income.

And remember: once key search criteria is in, potential guests are drawn to your listing photography to help visualize their stay in your home. Having high-quality imagery to showcase your new hot tub or updated backyard space can take them from looker to booker.

Pro tip: The best way to guarantee your photography makes the right impact is to opt for professional images. Our data shows listings that have ’em can generate up to a 20% annual increase in earnings on average.

Showcasing new investments accurately should always be top of mind, too. No guest wants to get to a property that doesn’t match what they booked online, so your listing description should clarify any seasonal considerations for amenity usage, and your photos should never distort a space. When you miss that mark, you run the risk of negative reviews that can seriously damage your listing’s reputation and hurt your ability to maximize vacation rental income. A big part of growing your revenue is eliminating any potential to miss out on it.

Our experts custom craft and regularly refresh property listings so guests stop, look, and book on all the top sites — and we include professional photos to highlight your home’s must-book features.

4. Take Advantage of Your Property Size

Another way to maximize short-term rental income is by making room for more travelers. Increasing the number of sleep accommodations makes your property accessible to larger groups of guests — which can help cast a wider net for bookings and incrementally boost revenue.

If one of your bedrooms has a twin bed, for instance, consider swapping in a full or queen so the room can work just as well for pairs. Go a step further with adult-size bunk beds, or a sleeper sofa in your living area.

Just keep in mind: certain vacation rental markets put limits on the number of guests you can have in your home (or any given bedroom), so it’s important to double-check your local regulations before increasing capacity. You’ll also want to consider your bed to bath ratio. Guests need to be able to share bathrooms comfortably, so even if you could technically support 12 guests with added sleeping accommodations, you may run the risk of poor reviews — or miss out on bookings altogether — if those guests only have access to two bathrooms. Plus, too much strain on your plumbing could result in more frequent maintenance and repairs.

Once you strike the ideal balance, don’t forget to update your listing so you show up in relevant guest count searches. You’ll also want to review your home inventory to make sure it covers the number of guests you can now host, stocking up on things like bedding, bath towels, dinnerware, and cutlery.

5. Open Your Calendar for Bookings Across Top Sites

Opening as many dates as possible to potential guests is a key unlock in how to make more money on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other top sites. In such a competitive vacation rental landscape, blocking just three months of your calendar could result in 28% less annual revenue — and that loss grows as your blocks increase.

Even in your off-season, you want to be open to guest reservations. This is the time to win attention from travelers who come to enjoy your area without as many tourists and crowds.

Once you’ve unblocked more time for bookings, it’s critical to keep your calendar updated across platforms. Having accurate availability on every booking site helps you show up in relevant searches without risking double-booking penalties that can really hurt your bottom line. On Airbnb, for example, double-booking could mean you not only get hit with cancellation fees, but you might also lose the ability to re-book those dates and get dinged on your listing’s visibility.

Certain tools can help you manage this yourself. But to really maximize short-term rental revenue, it’s best to work with a management company like Evolve whose channel marketing strategy also gets you on high-traffic booking sites DIY owners can’t access (like Google Vacation Rental, Expedia, and Hopper Homes) — all while taking the day-to-day calendar maintenance off your plate.

6. Consider (and Re-Consider) Your Policies Based on Market Trends

It’s no secret that maximizing your vacation rental income requires you to pull a variety of strategic levers, and one of those is the policies you set — particularly since it’s best to look for ways to influence your performance outside of just changing your rates. 

That’s because as market trends shift, so do guest behaviors. Continually evaluating your policies to limit restrictions can appeal to more travelers, open up more days available to book, and bring in extra income.

If you have upcoming gaps, consider adjusting your length of stay requirements to accommodate next-day check-ins and fill those open spots. Explore a more flexible cancellation policy, too, to increase your property’s overall visibility — many guests search with “free cancellation” filters applied — and encourage confidence to book (an approach that can lead to 53% more revenue).

Market seasonality plays a role here, too. You might see different occupancy patterns — like how far in advance guests tend to book or how long they generally stay — depending on the time of year. Proactively adjust your length-of-stay and cancellation policies to match what travelers to your area look for seasonally.

Also, don’t forget that traveler trends vary across regions, so you’ll want to lean into what’s important for customers in your market. See if it’s a top destination for pet-friendly vacations, for example, by conducting a search for pet-approved properties near yours. You’ll get a sense of the earning opportunity you’d have when you allow furry friends, and can then consider adjusting your pet policy to boost bookings.

7. Use Dynamic Pricing

Market conditions can change daily, and your rates should pivot just as quickly.

That’s why a dynamic pricing strategy is best. It takes several factors into account (like seasonal trends and the calendar availability of rival listings in your area) to keep your home competitive. Unlike flat or stair step pricing — both more traditional approaches — you can raise rates when demand is high and encourage bookings at lower price points when things slow.

Line chart using market data to showcase the performance differences when using dynamic pricing instead of flat pricing or stair step pricing. Annotations note that daily pricing changes help maximize earnings when demand fluctuates, peak season calls for highest daily rates of the year, and rates lower to engage more bookings when there's less demand.

With these best practices in place, you’re way less likely to miss out on year-round earning opportunities. Compared to other rate-setting tactics, owners who make dynamic adjustments can earn up to 40% more annual revenue.

8. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Guests aren’t just looking for the perfect listing — they also want five-star service throughout their vacation rental experience. From how you interact with them ahead of a stay to the in-home experience you provide, strong hospitality practices drive positive reviews, which greatly influence your property’s performance.  

Case in point: our data shows homes with an average rating of 4.5 stars or more can earn 12% more than their lower-rated counterparts. That’s because the vast majority of consumers read reviews before making a buying decision, so a listing with tons of great feedback will likely win their trust over one without. Many booking sites also prioritize listings with stronger ratings in their search results, which means homes with more stars tend to get in front of travelers most often.

To nail your customer service, make sure you communicate quickly and effectively when guests reach out with questions (whether they’re at the property yet or not). Keep your property fully stocked and squeaky clean for every stay. And provide a welcome book and thoughtful gift to help guests feel personally taken care of. Happy guests not only influence the decisions of future travelers, but are more likely to become repeat bookers themselves.

9. Upsell Perks and Experiences

After you have the hospitality basics down, you can boost satisfaction further — and generate more income in the process — when you consider certain added perks: 

Before finalizing the added services you’d like to offer (and any associated fees), make sure you cross-reference what different booking sites allow you to do and how. Vrbo, for instance, gives owners the opportunity to send up to five additional payment requests per booking, while Airbnb provides what’s called special offers.

10. Encourage Positive Reviews

Data shows 78% of travelers won’t leave reviews without solicitation — but 72% of consumers will when asked. This makes it incredibly important to reach out to your guests and proactively gather five-star feedback to maximize revenue.

A day or two after a guest departure, thank them for their stay and kindly request they leave a review. You can make the process even easier by sharing a direct link to the review page, so they don’t need to hunt it down.

And when feedback comes in, be sure to acknowledge them in a timely manner. Future travelers are more likely to book when they see guest comments don’t go neglected — so responding to them quickly can help create even more momentum for your property listing.

When you work with Evolve, we send review requests on your behalf and craft thoughtful, professional responses to their feedback.

And when feedback comes in, be sure to acknowledge them in a timely manner. Future travelers are more likely to book when they see guest comments don’t go neglected — so responding to them quickly can help create even more momentum for your property listing.

How to Grow Your Profit Potential Even More

If you haven’t already, there’s one more action owners can take to maximize vacation rental income — and that’s partnering with a management company like Evolve. When you team up with our professionals, you unlock access to expert tactics and proven revenue strategies that help level up your business while managing less.

With income-driving moves you can make and Evolve as your strategic partner, there’s nothing standing between you and your highest earning potential this year.

There’s a lot to get in order when turning a second home into a vacation rental for the first time

But let’s say you’ve done all the pre-work. The place is upgraded with key amenities, furnished to perfection, fully inventoried, and deep-cleaned. Now it’s ready to hit the internet and start accepting bookings.

The biggest question you need to answer is: where should I list my vacation rental?

It’s no secret that putting your home on a major listing site is a must for getting seen by travelers and maximizing your rental income. But with so many options, it can be overwhelming — not to mention time-consuming — to decide what’s best for you. 

Below is a short list of the absolute best short-term rental sites. You’ll get all the information you need, from the unique benefits each site offers to how much it costs to list.

In This Article 
Airbnb
Vrbo
Booking.com
Google Vacation Rental
Expedia
Hopper Homes
Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™

Spoiler alert: Evolve lists your home on all the best vacation rental sites for owners as a built-in part of our services. Chat with us today to learn more.

1. Airbnb

In-image text reads, "Airbnb owner benefits are: constant tech upgrades, household name, and over 1 billion guest arrivals. Owner costs are 3% commission plus $0 subscription fee plus 0% processing fee."

A longtime giant in the vacation rental industry, Airbnb is a household name that gives owners access to more than 150 million users around the world. Our Distribution team says they tend to serve younger, tech-savvy travelers looking for more affordable accommodations.

How Does Airbnb Work for Owners?

Airbnb is truly a DIY, be-your-own-boss experience for owners. You can rent out anything from a single room in shared space to a private house or a totally unique vacation home.

This makes Airbnb a catch-all for nearly any type of accommodation. Signing up as a host takes seconds, and while you need to meet basic requirements to do so successfully (and establish a positive review rating to stay on the site), the rest is in your hands.

Owners are in charge of creating their listing, responding to guest inquiries, and managing reviews. Airbnb offers help via standard 24/7 support lines and a community forum. (You can post your property listing to the group for feedback, for instance.) But they also incentivize owners to create the best possible experiences for guests by reserving priority support resources for Superhosts. 

Behind the scenes, Airbnb is constantly evolving their interface, and they frequently launch new features to improve how the site runs for owners. (For example, there’s a “Today tab” for upcoming check-ins and a “Description starter” for listing help.) 

With over 4 million hosts across the globe and nearly 7 million homes to date, Airbnb is certainly one of the best vacation rental sites for owners. But if you’re new to vacation rental and hoping for more guidance around what it takes to build your business successfully, Airbnb’s hands-off approach is something to keep in mind.

How Much Does It Cost to List on Airbnb?

Airbnb charges a 3% commission on every booking you secure, though there are some circumstances that might increase this percentage. When a reservation is confirmed, Airbnb sends you a price breakdown email detailing the fees and taxes they collect, what your guests pay (including a variable service fee), and what money ultimately lands in your pocket.

2. Vrbo

In-image text reads, "Vrbo owner benefits are: longer guest stays, simple, user-friendly platform, and access to Expedia marketing and exposure. Owner costs are 5% booking fee option or $499 subscription fee option, plus 3% processing fee."

Founded in 1995 and the oldest player in the game, Vrbo has made a recent surge in vacation rental popularity with more than 48 million active monthly users, according to our Distribution team. They heavily market over 2 million listings around the world to families, encouraging group getaways that inspire connection.

How Does Vrbo Work for Owners?

Much like Airbnb, Vrbo gives owners fairly free rein to make their hosting experience what they want it to be. Unlike Airbnb, though, Vrbo doesn’t allow any accommodations in shared spaces. 

To get started, you need to answer a few quick questions about your home before plugging in account creation information. From there, you can build your listing and jump into the scene. 

Vrbo offers standard 24/7 support and helps guide owners toward different software you can integrate to manage all the brass tacks of your business. Vrbo also lives under the Expedia parent company, so owners get the marketing and exposure benefits that come with the influence of Expedia and their affiliates.

Our Distribution team says Vrbo is one of the best vacation rental sites for owners wanting a more simplistic and familiar interface. (This is also favored by their guests, who lean a bit older.) Stays tend to be longer than they are on Airbnb, which translates to less frequency in turnarounds (and potentially fewer cleaning and maintenance bills). 

How Much Does It Cost to List on Vrbo?

If Vrbo feels like a good fit, there are two base cost options. You can opt to pay a 5% service fee on every confirmed booking, or you can choose an annual subscription of $499.  Our Distribution team says the best route for you will come down to how quickly your revenue might hit a $499 fee threshold, as well as your personal preference around payment frequency.

Whichever option you choose, Vrbo also charges a 3% processing fee on total payment and taxes for their owners. You can find a Payout summary in your Vrbo account to see net income after a reservation is complete, which also accounts for the service fee guests pay. (Much like Airbnb, our Distribution team says that figure consistently varies based on a number of factors.)

3. Booking.com

In-image text reads, "Booking.com owner benefits are: no service fee for guests, most visited travel site in the world, and 66% of users return to book again. Owner costs are 15% average booking fee plus $0 subscription fee plus 0% processing fee."

An industry heavyweight offering vacation rentals and hotels — among other bookable travel needs like flights and car rentals — Booking.com has the broadest audience of all the best short-term rental sites, clocking over 100 million monthly users, our Distribution team says. 

How Does Booking.com Work for Owners?

Booking.com considers owners their partners, and it’s arguably the most direct-to-traveler channel. Like Airbnb and Vrbo, you fill out a quick profile to register, set your house rules, build a listing, and dive in. 

But with Booking.com, the prices you set are the prices your guests pay. There’s no service fee aspect to how Booking.com operates for consumers, 66% of whom come back.

Owners on Booking.com have access to the expected 24/7 support that all the best vacation rental listing sites provide, can chat with guests through their on-site portfolio, and can report any issues or request payment from guests if an incident occurs. 

Booking.com also offers its hosts a much wider range of commercial products than Airbnb or Vrbo (at a discount), helping maximize your marketing and booking abilities if managing your home as a DIYer.

One thing to be aware of: Booking.com owners do not have the freedom to review guest inquiries and potentially deny bookings. All reservations made through this marketplace are automatically confirmed, much like they would be for a hotel stay.

How Much Does It Cost to List on Booking.com?

Booking.com charges an average 15% fee on confirmed stays in the U.S., though it may vary slightly if you’re in a different country. Our Distribution team also notes that while there’s no standard processing fee for owners with Booking.com, there may be additional processing fees based on your bank or financial service.

4. Google Vacation Rental

In-image text reads, "Google owner benefits are: visibility in Google results, over 90% of search engine use, and broader, site-agnostic audience. Owner costs are not applicable — you need to partner with a property management company to pull into Google results."

A recently-launched feature, Google showcases vacation rental options on the first page of results when you make a relevant search. With Google’s near-monopoly on internet searches, having your property surface here has massive potential to attract eager travelers.

How Does Google Vacation Rental Work for Owners?

Google’s travel feature is not a DIY situation because it’s not technically a marketplace in the traditional sense. Owners must work with a management company that’s partnered with Google Vacation Rental (like Evolve) for inclusion; you cannot be featured through Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com. 

It’s also important to note that while selecting a property management company with a Google partnership gives you access to a broader audience, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pop up in results. Your listing needs to be highly optimized for search terms that help Google identify it as the best content for your most qualified travelers, and professional photography is a must. (These are topics we go into detail about in our free e-book, The 6 Biggest Secrets to Earning Thousands More.)  

With that in mind, make sure the property management solutions you consider have professional photography standards and search engine optimization (SEO) experts monitoring your listing’s performance.

How Much Does It Cost to List on Google Vacation Rental?

Only good news here: since Google uses their search functionality to surface vacation rental listings rather than a dedicated platform, there’s no additional cost to owners who are featured. Instead, you need to find a property management company that can maximize your home’s potential.

5. Expedia

In-image text reads, "Expedia owner benefits are: top global travel portal in 2022, over 30 million monthly site visitors, and potential promotion across other Expedia Group brands. Owner costs are not applicable — you must work with a property management company already partnered with Expedia to guarantee promotion."

As one of the most recognizable online travel agencies in the world, Expedia makes it easy for travelers to book vacation rental and hotel stays — and even bundle accommodations alongside flight- and activity-based bookings. With over 30 million monthly site visitors, it’s one of the best short-term rental sites to get your property in front of a huge network of convenience-focused guests.

How Does Expedia Work for Owners?

Gaining access to Expedia’s growing customer base isn’t guaranteed on your own. Instead, owners must work with a management company (like Evolve) to secure a spot under Expedia’s “Stays” section, which promotes hotels and vacation rentals to ready-to-book guests.

Owners could also get some visibility on Expedia if they work directly with an Expedia Group subsidiary, like Vrbo. It’s important to note, though, that this only creates the potential to show up on Expedia’s site, given you must meet specific criteria. Instead, working with a pro company locks in guaranteed exposure for your listing on Expedia.com — and the possibility for promotion across additional well-known travel brands like Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Hotels.com, and more.

How Much Does It Cost to List on Expedia?

Because vacation rental owners cannot work directly with Expedia, the only cost you would need to account for is between you and your property management company. Make sure whoever you team up with has relationships in place to increase your listing’s exposure — and provides knowledgeable tips — that can help maximize your earning potential.

6. Hopper Homes

In-image text reads, "Hopper owner benefits are: most downloaded travel app in North America, over 100 million app users, and strategic social media presence. Owner costs are not applicable. To directly manage your listing on Hopper, you need to partner with a property manager."

Named the World’s Best Travel App in 2023, Hopper offers a fast-growing hub of top short-term rental inventory across the globe (known as Hopper Homes). 

How Does Hopper Homes Work for Owners?

Much like Google Vacation Rental, Hopper Homes is currently not directly available to owners. Instead, you need to partner with a property management company (like Evolve) to gain exposure to their 100 million users.

Hopper takes a unique marketing approach to gain those users: they heavily encourage people to download their app through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Because of this, they grab the attention of mobile-first generations (like Millennials and Gen Z), putting an owner’s home in front of a customer demographic that has a high lifetime value. 

How Much Does It Cost to List on Hopper Homes?

This site isn’t entirely free marketing in the way Google Vacation Rental is, since Hopper collects a commission for listing. But that’s covered by a partnering property management company — so the only cost to owners is that management company’s standard fee. Given the access Hopper Homes can unlock, it’s important to work with someone who’s in touch with the latest marketing trends and can showcase your home on all the right vacation rental sites.

7. Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™

In-image text reads, "Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy owner benefits are: trusted name in hospitality, access to over 170 million members, and high standards of guest service. Owner costs are not applicable. You can only be listed on Homes & Villas by working with a property management company and qualifying."

Marriott is already a massive name in travel, and now their trusted hospitality extends beyond traditional hotel accommodations with Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™. The booking potential for owners here is huge, since their curated collection of vacation rentals is promoted to millions of Marriott Bonvoy™ loyalty members.

How Does Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™ Work for Owners?

This is another platform that can’t be accessed by owners unless you’re working with a professional property management company that partners with Marriott Bonvoy™. 

That said, if your property management company does grant you listing access, your home can be seen by more than 170 million engaged Marriott Bonvoy™ members — an exclusive audience of frequent travelers dedicated to a brand they trust. Guests can earn and redeem their loyalty points when they book vacation rentals through Homes & Villas, which means they’re more likely to keep coming back.

All homes listed by Marriott Bonvoy™ must also meet the brand’s high standards for five-star service, so each home is hand-selected for the site based on quality and aesthetic. That makes it one of the best short-term rental sites to signal to travelers that your property is in premium condition — something that can continue to boost your reputation in the long run.     

How Much Does It Cost to List on Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™?

Just like Hopper Homes, owners listed on Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™ have costs covered by their property management company — and pay no out-of-pocket commission fees. Be sure to choose a property management company that works with the brand and knows how to help you hit the five-star standards you need to succeed.

How to Not Choose Between the Best Vacation Rental Sites for Owners

Whittling down where to list your vacation rental is often a necessary task for a DIYer — it’s just not realistic to juggle communications and bookings through all of them alone, nor is it cheap to cover the sum of their fees. 

But listing on just one site is not what’s best for your business. Getting on as many as you can means more marketing exposure, more bookings, and more revenue

In-image text reads, "Evolve owner benefits are: expert marketing and pricing strategies, visibility on all top marketplaces, and consistently earn more than competitors. Owner costs start at 10% or 15% management fee plus $0 subscription fee plus 0% processing fee."

We start by creating a professional listing in a search engine-friendly format that also comes with professional photography. Then, we put your listing on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Google Vacation Rental, Expedia, Hopper Homes, and evolve.com — not to mention Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™ and a few other listing sites if your home qualifies — partnering with each to continuously adapt as the market does.

Here’s the great news: the fees typically imposed on DIY owners by listing sites are factored into our proven-to-work revenue optimization strategy, so you’ll reap the benefits without ever having to worry about those costs yourself. 

Of course, we also have experts who leverage our exclusive technology and in-house specialists who handle guest communications on your behalf — meaning Evolve works for you in a way an individual marketplace can’t, and it’s all done for an industry-low fee.

If you’re interested in learning more, hop down to the form below to see if you qualify for our services and kickstart a conversation with one of our vacation rental pros.

Since the rise of remote working, there’s been an uptick in traveler demand for less crowded destinations where it’s easy to escape the daily grind. In fact, Vrbo reported earlier this year that more travelers than ever are searching for rustic getaways and looking to reconnect with nature. 

So it makes sense to consider investing in a cabin rental. Often tucked in woodsy, tranquil areas with plenty of access to outdoor adventure, cabins give savvy real estate investors a strong opportunity to capture guest interest and earn passive income. 

From mountain towns near ski slopes to charming lakefronts, there are many prime spots across the country where cabins earn major attention. Here are the best places to buy a cabin vacation rental for maximum profit potential.

Take a more tailored approach to buying the perfect rental by connecting with our experts. We can help identify markets, properties, and partners to boost your success.

In This Article:
Hocking Hills, OH
Saranac Lake, NY
Branson, MO
Boyne City, MI
Sevierville, TN
Boone, NC
Broken Bow, OK
Breezy Point, MN
Rapid City, SD
Ruidoso, NM
Hayward, WI
Pocono Lake, PA

How We Chose the Best Places to Buy a Cabin

Our data is based on a combination of proprietary and public data, but the three key metrics we took into account include:

Alongside these metrics, we evaluated a cabin’s potential to outperform market expectations with an Evolve partnership. Below, you’ll see The Evolve Difference highlighting how we helped some of our top vacation rental owners maximize income and significantly beat the market’s projected revenue.

Please note: all data projections reflect ideal-state scenarios. Variables like owner-blocked calendars and extenuating circumstances (like natural disasters) are not factored into these calculations.

1. Hocking Hills, OH

Photo of a rocky outcropping surrounded by rolling hills covered in colorful autumn trees in Hocking Hills, OH, the best place to buy a cabin. Image text reads, "$42,751 median rental revenue. $349,260 median listing price. 8.6% example cap rate."

Nestled in rural Southeastern Ohio, the Hocking Hills region is home to breathtaking cliffs, sprawling caves, and cascading waterfalls. As a haven for nature enthusiasts, it’s unsurprising that Hocking Hills is also the best place to buy a cabin. 

The area’s cap rate — your annual net operating income divided by a property’s market value — dipped slightly in the last year due to increased list prices, but an incremental rise in revenue shows plenty of promise for investors. Our experts recommend focusing your search on the peaceful towns of Hamden, Amanda, and Logan. All of these have comparable profit potential, though it’s worth noting that Evolve’s top-performing cabins in the area sit in Logan

What’s more: Those top-performing cabins earn more than double the median rental revenue. They capitalize on the rustic, relaxing feel guests want by offering plenty of outdoor space, proximity to state parks, and must-book amenities like hot tubs.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $97,100 annually!"

Discover more locations with strong profit potential — cabin-centric or not — with the best places to buy a vacation rental across the U.S. right now.

2. Saranac Lake, NY

Photo of autumn trees reflected on the calm waters of Saranac Lake, NY, one of the best places to buy a cabin on a lake. Image text reads, "$29,151 median rental revenue. $264,598 median listing price. 7.7% example cap rate."

The quaint village of Saranac Lake sits in the Adirondack Mountains and offers an irresistible blend of scenic beauty and peaceful ambiance.

If this Northeast town sounds familiar, it’s probably because Saranac Lake boasts plenty of year-round appeal for investors to capitalize on — from epic fall foliage and winter tubing at Mt. Pisgah to summertime boating on the lake (part of why the area  made our list of best places to buy a lake house, too). Its charm also extends into the vibrant downtown area, where opportunities for shopping, art, and dining are abundant. 

The highest earning Saranac Lake cabins are woodsy, private, and close to downtown. They often provide direct lake access — with many sitting right on the shoreline. Keep in mind, though, that lakefront properties are typically more expensive than the median in this market. The great news: if waterfront properties take you out of your budget, you can still find success with real estate a little farther from the waves if you invest in other attractive amenities, like spacious decks and pet-friendliness.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $43,291 annually!"

Dreaming of a lake house investment? Check out our helpful guide on everything you need to know before taking the plunge.

3. Branson, MO

Aerial photo of Branson, MO and its lush forested surroundings with rivers running through the trees. Image text reads, "$22,962 median rental revenue. $246,472 median listing price. 6.5% example cap rate."

Branson is a family-friendly destination in the Ozark Mountains with a wide array of things to do. Visitors can get their adrenaline pumping at Silver Dollar City, embrace awe-inspiring views at Top of the Rock, explore the famous Entertainment District, or indulge in water sports at Table Rock Lake

Cabins earning the most provide easy lake commutes or views while still sitting close to other top attractions. And while landing a true lakefront property can earn investors higher rates, they tend to be more expensive and harder to find — so it’s all making the most of your budget and aligning with your business goals.

In addition to standard permits and licensing, Branson has some zoning restrictions to be aware of — both in the downtown areas and on parts of Table Rock Lake. Our experts recommend tapping local experts to make sure the neighborhoods you’re interested in buying in are zoned for short-term rental before making an offer.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $54,903 annually!"

We can connect you with trusted, local real estate agents who specialize in vacation rental — and can get your rental journey off on the right foot.

4. Boyne City, MI

Photo of a harbor in Boyne City, MI with boats docked on the shore by a small lighthouse. Image text reads, "$33,724 median rental revenue. $383,845 median listing price. 6.2% example cap rate," showcasing this area as one of the best places to buy a cabin.

Boyne City’s proximity to the famous Boyne Mountain Resort makes it a great place for a ski property investment, but it’s also a summer hotspot for families and large groups visiting Lake Charlevoix. Ample charm, an award-winning Main Street district, and cabin popularity all further the area’s multi-season draw and make Boyne City one of the best places to buy a cabin.

When looking at data over the last year, median rental revenue dipped while list prices climbed, bringing the overall cap rate down. That said, Evolve cabin owners equipped with expert management strategies are still taking home incomes well above the average — with many more than tripling market revenue. 

These high-earning cabins sit close to Boyne Mountain Resort and provide enough space for eight to 12 guests. Outdoor amenities like fire pits and hot tubs are also great ways to maximize multi-season booking opportunities and get the most bang for your buck.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $107,389 annually!"

5. Sevierville, TN

Aerial photo of Sevierville, TN surrounded by rolling green hills covered in trees, one of the best places to buy a cabin in the woods. Image text reads, "$42,751 median rental revenue. $483,309 median listing price. 6.2% example cap rate."

Considered the “Gateway to the Smokies,” Sevierville serves as the perfect home base for an outdoorsy vacation. Staying here gives travelers easy access to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Dollywood, and Douglas Lake (a top fishing spot). Sevierville also boasts a spa, waterpark, golf course, and a lively downtown scene, making it an ideal destination for guests of all ages. 

Travelers come to Sevierville to explore the outdoors, but they also look for cozy cabin rentals where they can unwind after an exhilarating day in the mountains. Evolve cabins that perform best offer family-friendly amenities like game rooms, plus hot tubs, saunas, and fire pits — all of which help some Evolve owners bring in more than double the median revenue as a result.

It’s worth noting that nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have comparable market potential — so it’s worth expanding your cabin search to include all three towns and increase your odds of finding your dream investment.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $94,113 annually!"

6. Boone, NC

Photo of rolling forest-covered hills glowing in sunset light in Boone, NC, one of the best places to buy a cabin. Image text reads, "$37,628 median rental revenue. $423,825 median listing price. 6.2% example cap rate."

With close proximity to three major ski resorts — Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, and Appalachian Ski MountainBoone grabs plenty of demand from wintersport lovers. But don’t be fooled: this scenic town in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a hit during warm-weather months, too.

With picture-perfect drives down the Blue Ridge Parkway, show-stopping hikes up Grandfather Mountain, a dynamic downtown area, and a handful of local breweries, Boone is an idyllic year-round destination for all types of travelers. 

And of course, as one of the best places to buy a cabin, this home type is the strongest earner among Evolve vacation rental owners. Cabins pocketing nearly twice the median rental revenue in Boone are rustic in style and within 10 miles of a ski resort. Beyond aesthetic and proximity, they also have hot tubs, expansive decks for taking in mountain views, and private backyards with on-site hiking trails.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $80,062 annually!"

7. Broken Bow, OK

Photo of a distant boat house surrounded by trees reflected on calm lake waters near Broken Bow, OK. Image text reads, "$38,605 median rental revenue. $456,065 median listing price. 5.9% example cap rate."

Broken Bow is a charming town in the heart of Oklahoma with breweries, a casino, and many locally-owned restaurants and shops. While the downtown area offers plenty to do, nearby Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake set the tone for nature-loving vacationers, too.  

Investors looking for a continuous flow of bookings in this market can look at purchasing a smaller property, as those with one to two bedrooms tend to grab the most nights booked on average. However, Evolve properties earning the most annual revenue in this area (all of which are cabins) are quite spacious, offering travelers four to six bedrooms and room for up to 20 guests. 

High-performing properties also lean into luxury by providing well-equipped chef’s kitchens, extra-large hot tubs, complimentary toiletries, and pool tables or shuffleboard. So even if you’re unable to go big with a Broken Bow footprint, make sure to add in these amenities as key ways to boost your property’s booking value. 

There’s more great news for new owners looking to enter the market, too: Broken Bow doesn’t have any short-term rental regulations in place right now, minimizing the red tape needing to be cut through before getting started.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $72,020 annually!

8. Breezy Point, MN

Photo of a canoe sitting in the reeds of a large, foggy lake surrounded by woods in Breezy Point, MN, one of the best places to buy a cabin on a lake. Image text reads, "$30,803 median rental revenue. $382,207 median listing price. 5.6% example cap rate."

Tucked in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the vibrant town of Breezy Point carries a magnetic allure for travelers year-round. From golfing and boating on Pelican Lake in the summer to ice fishing and skiing at Breezy Point Resort in the winter, those in search of fresh air will find plenty to do no matter when they visit. 

Evolve owners making nearly triple the median rental revenue in this area have two-bedroom cabins with space for up to eight guests. Maximizing the space of a smaller home like this makes it possible for investors in the area to boost profits without necessarily breaking the bank. 

And because Breezy Point visitors come for the variety of outdoor activities, owners can lean into this demand by looking for rental properties that offer on-site hiking or aren’t far from the trails. From there, providing other fitting perks like fire pits and wood-burning stoves can help warm them up to the idea of leaving a five-star review, boosting your odds of repeat bookers and attracting the attention of future guests.  

While Breezy Point has fairly standard short-term rental requirements, they do require an annual well water test. There’s also a vacation rental cap of 60, but their last count put total rentals at 37 — making now the time to grab your stake in the market. If you’re looking to widen your search beyond Breezy Point without losing the value of the area, our experts recommend checking out nearby Pequot Lakes and Crosslake.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $85,966 annually!

9. Rapid City, SD

Photo of green fields at the base of dense alpine woods and distant mountains near Rapid City, SD, one of the best places to buy a cabin. Image text reads, "$31,328 median rental revenue. $403,586 median listing price. 5.4% example cap rate."

Recently named one of the best small towns to visit in the U.S., Rapid City also earns its stripes as one of the best places to buy a cabin with its charming Black Hills backdrop. While best known for its proximity to Mount Rushmore, Rapid City has far more to offer: fantastic local restaurants, state parks, a drive-thru zoo, museums, and a walkable downtown area where you can explore the City of Presidents.

Top-performing cabins in Rapid City offer easy proximity to Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore, and Canyon Lake Park. Our experts say the best places to buy a cabin are on the outskirts of the city. Look for private, wooded properties with large decks, breathtaking mountain views, and on-site hiking trails, as Evolve owners outperforming the area’s median income have at least two — but often all three — of the above. 

To expand your cabin search, eager investors can also look in nearby Hill City, where guests could get even closer to the area’s top nature sights.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $81,652 annually!"

10. Ruidoso, NM

Image of golden autumn trees in front of distant mountains in Ruidoso, NM, one of the best places to buy a cabin. Image text reads, "$27,885 median rental revenue. $362,411 median listing price. 5.4% example cap rate."

Ruidoso sits in the Sierra Blanca Mountains and embraces outdoor adventure in every season. During warmer months, Lincoln National Forest and White Sands National Monument make for idyllic hikes. When the winter chill sets in, visitors are invited to hit the slopes at Ski Apache Resort or go tubing at Winter Park Recreational Area

Ruidoso also offers a vibrant arts scene, eclectic shops and local eateries, a collection of casinos, and rich Wild West history. With so much to do beyond the outdoorsy, travelers of all kinds flock to this mountain town — boosting your booking potential. 

And — no surprise here — they’re choosing cabins. Those earning the most lean into Ruidoso’s natural beauty by offering wraparound decks, hot tubs, and show-stopping views of the Sierra Blanca Mountains.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $67,771 annually!

11. Hayward, WI

Photo of a sunset casting warm yellow light across lake waters in Hayward, WI, one of the best places to buy a cabin. Image text reads, "$25,874 median rental revenue. $334,015 median listing price. 5.4% example cap rate."

Hayward is an adventurer’s playground with plenty of opportunities for fishing, water sports, ATV riding, and hiking. With a casino, the world’s largest fishing museum, and a bustling downtown area, there’s something for everyone in this midwestern gem. 

Hayward is conveniently located near a vast collection of lakes, like Lake Hayward (which features a public beach) and Lake Chippewa (a popular choice for swimming), so it’s no surprise that top-performing cabins in this market are often waterfront. They boast private docks or boat slips, along with rustic features like exposed wood interiors and majestic stone fireplaces. It’s worth noting, of course, that lakefront homes in Hayward tend to be more expensive — so while you could earn more revenue in the long run, be prepared to potentially face steeper upfront costs. 

To own a vacation rental in Hayward, investors will need a few licenses and permits to operate what they call a “Tourist Rooming House” on state and county levels. Remember, it’s best to work with professionals who can help you navigate these requirements.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $53,332 annually!"

12. Pocono Lake, PA

Aerial photo of Pocono Lake, PA surrounded by dense wooded hills, one of the best places to buy a cabin in the woods. Image text reads, "$20,594 median rental revenue. $279,959 median listing price. 5.1% example cap rate."

Set in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, Pocono Lake is a peaceful town best known for its mesmerizing landscapes and proximity to major ski resorts. Because there are numerous ways to get out in nature — like whitewater rafting, leaf peeping, or hitting the slopes — the potential for multi-season bookings hops up. 

Pocono Lake is also home to a collection of prominent lake communities (like Arrowhead Lake Village), each boasting luxurious perks like members-only beaches, pools, community centers, and watersport equipment rentals. And while high-earning cabins can be found in one of these communities, they don’t need to be.  

So, investors should weigh the pros and cons carefully. Lake communities offer premium amenities, but may carry higher purchase costs. On the other hand, properties outside of a community might be better suited to your budget — but  you’ll need to invest separately in added perks to compete for top dollar bookings in this market

According to our experts, HOAs in this area can also be a deterrent, so it’s essential to work with a local agent to understand how they factor in when exploring your purchasing options.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $42,851 annually!"

Buy the Perfect Cabin Rental with Evolve

Buying a cabin vacation rental is a major decision, but you don’t have to navigate the process solo. Whether you’re drawn to a lakefront gem or a rustic mountain escape, our skilled real estate experts can help you take the next step.

We have the data to inform your investment opportunities and define your income goals, preferred local real estate agents with expertise in vacation rental purchases, and helpful management tools to make your cabin property a success.

For additional research, here are some resources to help you better understand the potential of vacation rental investment:

Now that you’re ready to talk about an investment in one of the best places to buy a cabin, reach out to our team today.

To decide if buying a cabin is a good investment, consider what makes cabin getaways so special: roaring fires, lakefront views, and rustic charm. They’re an escape unlike any other, offering something condos or houses don’t always provide: an experiential feel.

These unique characteristics make cabins especially lucrative for vacation rental, and there’s never been a better time to buy. 

Not only have Evolve cabin rentals seen a 37% increase in booking value since mid-2021, but many of the hottest markets in the U.S. distinguish themselves as the best places to buy a cabin specifically.

In This Article:
Questions to Ask When Buying a Cabin
Types of Cabins to Buy
When to Buy a Cabin
Where to Buy a Cabin
How to Buy a Cabin

Questions to Ask When Buying a Cabin

Exterior view of a modern log cabin with massive windows reflecting the towering green pines surrounding it.

While they have incredible income potential, these are the pros and cons of owning a cabin to keep in mind before jumping into an investment.

1. Will my income offset costs?

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 experts say 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. 

2. When will demand peak in this area?

Great news: the vast majority of cabin rental markets have dual-seasonality. If you’re purchasing in the Poconos, PA or Broken Bow, OK, 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 few select ski towns with little summer presence (though it’s worth noting that most of the best places to buy a ski property do carry multi-season value). Buying a cabin in winter-heavy markets 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 areas, browse our Vacation Rental Market Analyses. Then, connect with our real estate team to get a more tailored look at your investment options.

3. What upfront costs will this property require?

Cabins have a lot of rustic character, but with that comes the risk of extra maintenance before your new home is rentable. Our real estate experts encourage thorough inspections before investing in a cabin to make sure the wood, insulation, bug infestations (inevitable in woodsier areas), and other elements can be properly assessed.

4. How accessible is this cabin?

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 for a mountain home if a heavy snow falls but plows can’t make it to your property. Our real estate experts say it’s key to choose a home that’s easily accessible to both guests and vetted service partners at a moment’s notice.

Types of Cabins to Buy

Exterior view of "The Hygge Hideaway" in Prescott, AZ with angular architecture, a barrel sauna, and fire pit.

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 real estate experts say 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 must-book 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.

1. Log Cabins

Quaint and rustic, classic log cabins 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 are generally more rare, too, so scoring one as a vacation rental owner can translate to extra earning potential.

2. A-Frame Cabins

The stunning architectural impact and massive windows that let in loads of natural light are the biggest draws for travelers booking A-frame cabins. 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, making sure all essential vacation rental supplies are easily accessible without cluttering the clean lines of each room.

3. Family Cabins

With sprawling floor plans, family-sized cabins give groups the ability to enjoy each other’s company with enough room to spread out. Most are equipped with luxe, family-friendly amenities (think: hot tubs, fire pits, entertainment systems, and easy-to-enjoy outdoor spaces), meaning you can typically charge more per night. Just remember the upkeep for a larger cabin can also increase your expenses.

4. One-Room Remote Cabins

Perfect for traveling couples or solo getaways, one-room cabins foster a simple, unfussy experience. These cabins can also be a good investment because they tend to have significantly lower maintenance costs, as a lack of luxury amenities can all be considered part of that getting-off-the-grid ambiance.

When to Buy a Cabin

Exterior view of a newly renovated A-frame log cabin in Duck Creek Village, UT surrounded by trees covered in snow.

The best time to buy depends on the market. In ski towns, it’s good to have your vacation rental up and running (and winterized) before 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 real estate 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.

Where to Buy a Cabin

Exterior view of a 3-bedroom, 1-bath cabin in Coeur d'Alene, ID with a spacious deck with multiple tables and umbrellas overlooking a serene lake — the ideal space for morning coffee or evening relaxation.

Another key consideration that will determine if a cabin is a good investment: location, location, location!  

If a mountain home sparks your interest, the Smoky Mountains are an established favorite among cabin-seekers, with stunning scenery and multi-season appeal. Be sure to consider towns like Gatlinburg, TN and Boone, NC when exploring your options in the region. 

For more of a hidden-gem investment, look to emerging markets. Rapid City, SD was recently named one of the best small towns to visit in the U.S., and Hocking Hills, OH is gaining ground as an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.

Lake cabins see a ton of success in destinations like Saranac Lake, NY or Branson, MO. The Midwest is also swimming with prime locations, including Hayward, WI, Boyne City, MI, and Breezy Point, MN.

Regardless of the specific market you land on, our real estate experts recommend keeping these other essentials in mind when shopping for your ideal cabin investment:

1. Breathtaking Views

Unsurprisingly, the best-performing cabin rentals offer memorable nature views, whether it’s a lake, a landscape of trees, or stunning mountain scenery. A cabin with a vista is always a good investment, because a wow-worthy view never goes out of style.

2. Easy Access to the Local Area

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 team can help you weigh revenue against expenses to choose a home with great earning potential and a faster recoup of your investment.

3. Desirable Amenities

If the market you’re eyeing has winter interest, travelers often look for homes with fireplaces and expert snow removal. If there’s summer demand, they want great outdoor space, a grill, and even an outdoor shower. Guests also favor different amenities when booking a lakefront cabin versus a mountain cabin, so make enhancements that embrace your home’s unique perks (like a private dock and kayaks, or a place to drop wet ski gear). And, of course, key amenities like easy parking and WiFi are valuable for any cabin.

How to Buy a Cabin

Exterior view of the "Aces Wild" vacation rental in Broken Bow, OK with a firepit surrounded by chairs in the foreground and a slide and swingset amongst the trees

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 experts take the guesswork and heavy lifting out of the equation by helping you:

  1. Define your personal and financial goals
  2. Understand the nuances and earning potential of any market 
  3. Connect with preferred real estate agents in the area for expert local assistance
  4. Manage your new property to maximize income and stay ahead of the competition

Of course, if you want proof of performance upfront, our listings for sale page features cabins and other types of properties that already have a proven track record of vacation rental success with Evolve.

Frankly, there’s never been a better time to invest in a cabin. We’ve helped thousands of owners maximize their earning potential — and we’d love to help you. See if you qualify and let your adventure in cabin rentals begin!