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The 10 best places to buy a vacation home to rent out — and make bank off the post-pandemic travel boom

  • Realtor.com analyzed rental markets to find where vacation homes were pulling in the most cash.
  • A new report lists the vacation towns in the US that investors should target for best returns. 
  • Most listed areas are close to national parks, with Joshua Tree, California, topping the list.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Trying to snag a vacation rental this summer has been brutal unless you’re willing to fork over thousands of dollars. And many Americans, following months upon months inside, have been willing to do so.

If you’re looking to get in on the action, real-estate resource Realtor.com just analyzed which markets have recently been the most profitable for short-term rentals.

Occupancy rates of short-term rentals are up 21% this summer compared to 2019. The pandemic-inspired travel boom is propelling vacation towns to new heights and lining the pockets of savvy real-estate investors.

Realtor.com partnered with real-estate data company AirDNA to assess the 250 largest rental markets in the country and put together a list of most profitable markets based on short-term rental revenue growth from May 2020 to May 2021. 

The resulting list, presented in ascending order, lays out the spots with the biggest increase in potential revenue from short-term vacation rentals — which will only remain desirable as the travel boom continues. It also includes the median price of a home in the area, along with how many days a month a home would have to be rented out to cover typical mortgage payments, where buyers have a 20% down payment and a 3% mortgage interest rate.

The top spots are all near tourist attractions like massive national parks — No. 1 on the list borders Joshua Tree National Park in California while No. 10 borders Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

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