As Americans become more accustomed to ever-changing regulations and shifting travel plans throughout the pandemic, short-term rentals continue to be a reliable solution for people looking to reconnect safely. Single-family rentals—especially those that are professionally managed—offer all the amenities of a home away from home, with the added benefits of closer proximity to preferred attractions.
To rank the top 25 vacation rental home markets, AvantStay used proprietary data to calculate each market’s investment score, taking into account year-over-year growth, cap rate, population density, cash-on-cash returns, and median market price. Here are the top 5 locations to consider when purchasing a vacation home this year:
1. Joshua Tree, CA
With rental revenue up 113% and monthly rental incomes averaging $4,420, Joshua Tree lands the top spot on AvantStay’s “Best Places to Invest in 2022” list. National Park acclaim and proximity to 23+ million people translate to steady bookings for rental owners.
Priced below many California markets, $400,000 buys a 3-5 bedroom ranch, while modern bungalows with floor-to-ceiling windows and mountain views, steps from the park, sell for $529,000+. Our experts recommend adding experiential elements like resort-style patios and hot tubs to drive up rental revenue and ROI.
Desert summers are hot, but winter, spring, and autumn’s 60-85℉ attract 2.4 million tourists, who come to see rugged rock formations and protected yucca plants. Stunning sunsets and views of the Milky Way provide a unique experience in nature, while the eclectic artists’ enclave offers sculpture gardens, a crochet museum, live band karaoke, and cook-to-order cafes.
AvantStay investment score: 9.90
Median home price: $400,000
2. Temecula, CA *
“A Tourist’s Secret Paradise,” Temecula snuck into our top three places for investing. Two hours to Los Angeles or San Diego, Temecula sees over 3 million annual visitors and strong rental demand. Our data shows steady home value appreciation of 29.2% a year. For a median investment of $685,000, vacation rentals are roomy, private resorts—featuring elaborate pools, outdoor kitchens, and putting greens.
Wine tasting brings friends and family to 50 full-service vineyards and boutiques—most notably South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, voted multiple times “California State Winery of the Year.” Bucket list hot air balloons, along with Old Town shopping, spa treatments, al fresco dining, and 100+ miles of bike trails await. Temecula is a designated “Playful City USA”, with over 39 playgrounds. Unique western attractions include Temecula Stampede—the largest country music venue on the West Coast—and the annual Western Days festival.
AvantStay investment score: 9.80
Median home price: $685,000
*Short-term rentals are not permitted in the city of Temecula, but we suggest purchasing rentals in Temecula Wine Country, De Luz, and other unincorporated areas of Riverside County.
3. Smoky Mountains, TN
Gatlinburg stood out in our data with extraordinary 91.8% home price appreciation this year. Properties selling for $190,000 in 2019 sold at $400,000 in April 2020, and are currently fetching $819,990 for about 2,000 sq ft. We recommend investors arrive with cash on-hand to help secure a purchase, as prices under a million aren’t likely to last another year.
Fully-furnished turnkey cabins offer excellent ROI, with coveted amenities like hot tubs, fireplaces, wrap-around porches, and mountain views. AvantStay’s Revenue Management Team observes the most advance-bookings at ultra-luxe cabins with movie theaters, bowling alleys, and indoor pools promising over-the-top vacations.
Two-thirds of the country is within a day’s drive of Great Smoky National Park—the most-visited national park. In 2020, 12 million tourists arrived for mountain hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing, and whitewater rafting, or for amusement at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, and the Parkway.
AvantStay investment score:
Median home price: $819,990
4. Cape Coral / Captiva, FL
AvantStay data shows 66.2% cash-on-cash yield and 33.3% home price appreciation this year. Investors will find opulent buys on Captiva Island for $3-10 million. Though the market’s competitive, modern Cape Coral homes exist for $360,000.
A perfect family destination, Captiva and Cape Coral charm 5 million annual visitors, including 1.2 million from October to December. Snowbirds visit annually; one-third of travelers booked vacation rentals over 10 times. “Waterfront Wonderland” exudes the best of sand and sea—a beautiful setting for working remotely or retirement.
Nationally ranked for air cleanliness and safety, the Cape’s two fantastic beaches—Yacht Club Community Park on the Caloosahatchee River and Four Freedoms Park at Bimini Basin—offer extraordinary beauty. After reveling in the restaurant renaissance, 400 miles of canals (more than Venice!), and 840 acres of parkland, visitors may extend their travel to nearby Fort Myers, Sanibel, and 70% of Florida within 150 miles.
AvantStay investment score: 9.67
Median home price: $360,000
5. Charleston, SC
Condé Nast Traveler readers voted Charleston “the #1 US city” for 10 consecutive years. With steady 78% occupancy over the last six months, Charleston ranks among the top three “highest occupancy markets” within the AvantStay portfolio, providing investors with 72.7% annual returns.
We recommend investments near the swaying palmetto fronds and smooth sands of Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, or Kiawah Island. Sought-after homes are also those closest to the walkable downtown, steps from America’s oldest landscaped gardens, Fort Sumter, Charleston City Market, and French Quarter cuisine.
Renowned for charming architecture, miles of white sand beaches, rich history, and Southern hospitality, Charleston evolved from Colonial America’s wealthiest city to a haven for 7.43 million international travelers. It’s also a top family vacation destination, featuring 5,000 marine animals at the aquarium, castles and pirate ships at the Children’s Museum, and performances at the 285-year-old Dock Street Theatre.
AvantStay investment score: 9.60
Median home price: $429,364
6. Savannah, GA
The cost of a Savannah residence in 2021 starts at $255,000, but reaches $750,000 or higher in the swanky South Historic District. Home value appreciation gained 52.43% over the past decade, with our data noting an 11.3% post-pandemic spike, due to rising demand for relaxed, southern quality of life.
The best-performing Savannah investments include romantic riverfront properties and expansive estates, perfect for family gatherings. For five-star guest reviews, buyers would do best to preserve original hardwood floors, brick fireplaces, stone walls, and wrap-around porches, while adding modern touches like vibrant paint, central air, stainless steel kitchen appliances, WiFi, and private pools.
America’s “First Planned City” is saturated with original charm—cobblestone streets, Spanish moss-covered trees, and 300-year-old buildings—an intoxicating ambiance that draws 8.4 million overnight visitors. America’s largest National Historic Landmark District spans 20 city squares of museums, mansions, monuments, and Hollywood film locations.
AvantStay investment score: 9.53
Median home price: $255,000
7. Coachella Valley, CA
Desert markets are heating up. Our data team ranked Coachella Valley fourth for annual home price appreciation (+36.2%) and third for market density, as it’s only hours from San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Sequoia National Park.
Seven months into 2020, Coachella Valley sales were up 56%, with strongest demand in: Palm Springs, amid local shops and art museums; La Quinta, known for golf courses and adobe cottages; and Indian Wells, home to luxurious dining, spas, and a world-renowned tennis tournament. With low inventory and interest rates, the $530,000 median sales price will rise.
Pristine hot mineral springs attract celebrities and global visitors, each town bathed in its own mystique—from family-friendly Cathedral City, to party epicenters like Coachella and Stagecoach in Indio. Dreamy Coachella Valley escapes offer swaying palms, private backyards with pools, and views of San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains.
AvantStay investment score: 9.47
Median home price: $530,000
8. Sarasota, FL
According to our data, Sarasota is an ideal blend of proximity and affordability. This mid-sized city on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is less than two hours from Orlando, Tampa, and Saint Petersburg—offering arts and culture near beautiful beaches. Home prices hit an all-time high of $407,000 in May 2021, +36.6% from 2020. Bay view mansions, equestrian estates, golf villas, and beachfront condos sell at 3% above list price, in three days.
Sarasota County’s 84% winter occupancy represents the highest in America, with hosts seeing longer stays and higher returns than comparable markets. Over 2.2 million visitors come to see the world-famous Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, and the world’s whitest, finest sand at Siesta Key Beach. Sarasota fares well as a second-home market, ranked one of U.S. News & World Report’s 10 best places to live in the US.
AvantStay investment score: 9.40
Median home price: $385,000
9. Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs is a dream market for investors, with the third-best density ranking, according to our data team. Inventory is low, but the $600-$700K median home price is low for California. The rare home listed under $400,000 in La Quinta Cove, Cathedral City, or Palm Desert Country Club receives multiple offers within days. Investors can expect annual gross rental revenue topping $52,000 and 26.6% appreciation.
Palm Springs is “the Golf Capital of the World,” with perfect weather and over 130 courses. The city of nearly 48,000 attracts 14.1 million professional putters, celebrities, and discerning vacationers who enjoy the desert climate, hiking, trendy restaurant and bar scene, and Beverly Hills-style shopping. Unique attractions include the romantic Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, an aerial tram through the San Jacinto mountains, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and the Living Desert Zoo (ranked among the top 10 by Condé Nast).
AvantStay investment score: 9.33
Median home price: $600,000
10. Austin, TX
The Texas capital is the “top US market” for 1 in 4 international investors, with higher net migration than any other American city, home appreciation rising 3.5% per month, and 7-9% annual rental returns. A wide range of properties perform well—from East Side bungalows, to romantic Zilker cottages. Proximity to shopping and dining, and pools or patios for entertaining—propel demand even higher.
Bluebird skies and 300 days of sunshine are best enjoyed along the Colorado River, picturesque lakes, beaches, and parks, with magical violet crown sunsets cast over the hills in nature’s grand finale. “Silicon Hills” tech jobs and exceptional quality of life are just some of the many reasons why Austin’s population doubled from 2000-2020.
Despite this robust growth, Austin retains a friendly, small-town character, drawing 20 million annual visitors—more than Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, and Rome combined. Whimsical museums, luxury shopping centers, and Sixth Street cater to every taste in “The Live Music Capital of the World.”
AvantStay investment score: 9.27
Median home price: $550,000
11. Destin, FL
Destin is one of AvantStay’s highest ROI markets based on the high 10.5% cap rate. Cost is up 44.9% per square foot, as large properties for weddings and reunions are in demand. However, it’s still possible to find a $550,000 1,300 sq. ft. home with 22.2% annual appreciation. Over 80% of Florida’s 4.5 million Gulf Coast visitors stop in Destin—a paradise of dolphins, white quartz beaches and emerald waters. “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” hosts the state’s largest docked fleet, a fishing rodeo, and seafood fest.
Fishing, snorkeling, diving, wave-running, swimming, parasailing, and biking keep folks busy by day—all conveniently accessible from the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. A stunning array of nightlife spans live DJ clubs, wine and cocktail bars, craft breweries, and live band Irish pubs. With restaurants, bowling alleys, escape rooms, and interactive motion theatres, no one up past dark gets left out.
AvantStay investment score: 9.20
Median home price: $550,000
12. Nashville, TN
With a median price of $401,000, a Music City investment rises to the top of our chart. Cost per square foot is growing 18.7% per year, but home appreciation keeps pace at 16.2%. Nashville is less than an eight-hour drive from 75% of the US population, and annual visitor demand surged from 10 to 16 million over 10 years.
In October 2021, Nashville had the fastest-selling homes in the US. Properties sell in under 10 days, often fielding 30+ offers, so arrive with cash and prepare to bid up to 5% over list price.
The fastest-growing city in Tennessee is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the nation’s only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, trendy Germantown shopping and dining, and the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. Nashville’s ranked among the “Five Best US Destinations to Visit in 2021,” “Most Popular Places to Vacation in America,” “Best Food Cities,” and the “Top 50 Meeting Destinations.”
AvantStay investment score: 9.13
Median home price: $401,000
13. Hudson Valley, NY
AvantStay’s data experts rank Hudson Valley #1 for density; the 36 million cityfolk living within five hours find respite and fine farm-to-table dining, while travelers enjoy affordable accommodations and convenient access to nature. It’s no surprise that homes are appreciating 21% year-over-year.
There’s the potential to earn $70,000-$80,000 a year from rentals—particularly for full-amenity, 4+ bedroom properties close to boating lakes and Hunter Mountain skiing. The market ranges from secluded woodland cottages with pools and entertaining space, to walkable town condos near restaurants, skating rinks, and buses and trains to NYC.
The Hudson River, “America’s Rhine,” winds through glacier-carved sandstone and the country’s oldest wine-producing region. National Geographic Traveler named the National Heritage Area a top 20 must-see destination in the world for its “mom-and-pop shops, ‘u-pick’ wildflower fields, and organic farm stands,” calling out Storm King Art Center, Clearwater Festival, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for sightseeing.
AvantStay investment score: 9.07
Median home price: $376,800
14. Big Bear, CA
Big Bear is a source of four-season adventure—think Tahoe, but more affordable. That could soon change, as median home prices rose 253% from 2000-2018, and nearly doubled to $607,000 from 2020-2021. Even with $423/night rates, families often rent homes for several years before settling on their forever properties.
The Sierra Nevadas are dotted with Snow Summit skiers and Bear Mountain snowboarders. As waters warm up, Big Bear Lake Marina and The Village become the main attractions. Big Bear’s population swells by 2,000% for holidays and special events.
“The Jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest” offers quick access to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Unlike surrounding areas, Big Bear is a four-season oasis with golden autumns and floral springs. With hundreds of miles of trails, 22 miles of lake shoreline, and over 1,000 skiable acres, rental activity is active throughout the year.
AvantStay investment score: 9.00
Median home price: $607,000
15. Sonoma, CA
Between the Mayacamas and Sonoma mountains sits a top investment opportunity with 8-10% cash yield and 71% year-round occupancy. While Napa is the “Las Vegas” of California Wine Country with limos, Michelin-star restaurants, and luxury hotels, US News & World Report ranked Sonoma “one of the best small towns in America” in 2021.
Demand for quieter experiences and more intimate lodging added 3,300 households (+300% from 2019) and 3.6 million overnight visitors in 2020. Median home prices soared from $678,910 in March 2020 to $767,000 in March 2021; currently, 1,400 sq ft is selling for $925,000, so buyers need to move fast.
This low-key, affordable hideaway 45 minutes north of San Francisco offers gorgeous countryside bike tours, farm-to-table patio dining, and family-owned wineries with world-famous pinot noirs, zinfandels, chardonnays, and cabernets. From winter spa getaways to summers along the coastline, Sonoma’s brand of rest-and-relaxation remains unrivaled.
AvantStay investment score: 8.93
Median home price: $925,000
16. Hilton Head, SC
Hilton Head ranks among AvantStay’s “top 10” home appreciation markets, up 25% in 2021. Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast readers voted it the #1 resort island for five consecutive years. The 12 miles of restful sandy shores from Pine Island Beach to South Beach attract 2.5 million annual visitors as a “Best Family Beach Vacation.”
Rentals are typically 90% booked with regulars from Atlanta, Charlotte, NYC, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. “Quality lodging” is a key factor in choosing Hilton Head for 96% of guests. A median home price of $578,800 ($340/sq ft) buys a slice of beachcomber, shopper, and golfer paradise.
Some 80% of travelers are return visitors who never tire of the specialty shops at Coligny Plaza, dining in Harbour Town, boating at Shelter Cove Harbour, and Shelter Cove Town Center events. Day trips include charming Charleston, stately Savannah, pristine oasis Daufuskie Island, and coastal town Bluffton.
AvantStay investment score: 8.87
Median home price: $578,800
17. Central Oregon, OR
The 10.4% cap rate indicates sound long-term investment in Central Oregon, which consistently sees 4.5 million visitors a year. As the “Outdoor Playground of the West,” Bend’s bountiful beauty draws hikers, bikers, rafters, and skiers who enjoy the spring-fed Deschutes River, majestic Cascade Mountains, ancient volcanoes, alpine lakes, waterfalls, and unfettered wilderness.
Good news for property investors: forecasters predict 18% economic growth by 2030. Bend rentals are spread all over town—from downtown cottages, to Old Mill District condos, to Mt. Bachelor cabins—selling at $656,000 and appreciating 16.8% a year.
Beyond resplendent natural wonders, Bend offers an up-and-coming culinary scene, the largest ale trail in the west, and the highest concentration of microbreweries per capita. Furry friends are welcomed at 40+ dog-friendly merchants and 51 miles of urban trails. Art walks, hot air balloon festivals, county fairs, and the region’s largest food festival keep summers busy.
AvantStay investment score: 8.80
Median home price: $656,000
18. Scottsdale, AZ
The median sales price reached $725,000 in 2021, but Arizona’s short-term rental legal protections provide a warm welcome for investors—who can expect 81% occupancy and 21% annual home value growth, according to AvantStay data. Rental options range from $300/night for modest three-bedroom homes with private pools, to $1,000/night for five-bedroom estates with gyms and outdoor kitchens.
A top retirement city, Scottsdale offers excellent quality-of-life. Zero humidity, 330 days of sunshine, and 65-75℉ highs November through April invite snowbirds. Fifteen spring training Major League Baseball teams bring their families to local vacation homes. The 4.3 million overnight visitors shop at the Southwest’s largest upscale mall, stroll Old Town’s nine distinctive neighborhoods, soak up desert landscapes at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and immerse themselves in Museum of the West exhibits. Just outside Phoenix, Scottsdales’s golf courses, spas, fine dining, and nightlife draw business travelers.
AvantStay investment score: 8.73
Median home price: $725,000
19. San Diego, CA
Record-low interest rates and consumer purchase power in 2020-2021 fueled San Diego’s high house prices, which are at a median of $795,000 presently. The 5.1% cap rate and 4.77% rental home vacancy rate presents opportunity for investors.
AvantStay recommends shopping investor-friendly neighborhoods like La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay, Ocean Beach, and Imperial Beach. As the San Diego market continues to see steady increases in absorption, the AvantStay brokerage is doubling down on investment strategies in the broader metro area.
Attractions, food, and affordability bring 17.4 million overnight guests to “America’s Finest City,” a TripAdvisor Top 10 Travel Destination. As if 70 miles of pristine palm-lined beaches and perpetually perfect weather weren’t enough, San Diego’s best-in-the-world zoo, whale watching, and Balboa Park museums add incentive to stay longer. San Diego is the ideal homebase for ultimate road trips throughout California, Western Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Mexico.
AvantStay investment score: 8.67
Median home price: $795,000
20. Charleston Islands, SC
The low 6.2% cap rate of Charleston’s Islands vacation homes offers an attractive balance between risk and return. Vacationers are leaning toward more private, resort-style experiences with putting greens, pools, and beach access. The $429,364 median sale price allows new investors access to a desirable market, up 20.9% in value this year.
Charleston is a strong East Coast destination for second homes, attracting families and singles with ocean vibes and Southern charm around every corner. Four of the seven million annual tourists venture over to see what the islands have to offer. Whether it’s Folly Beach surfing, Isle of Palms sandcastle building, Kiawah Island golfing, Sullivan’s Island watersports, or Seabrook seclusion, guests are treated to the best of two worlds: relaxed pace and a bustling epicenter of culture.
AvantStay investment score: 8.60
Median home price: $429,364
21. Vail, CO
Vacation homes account for 70% of Vail’s real estate market, showcasing the endless appeal of a well-planned resort village. Our vacation rental management team identified 21% value increase—a desirable find at a $375,000 median.
Bavarian-style architecture welcomes guests to 5,000+ acres of powder in Vail, Colorado—a best ski town in America, and among the best places to buy a vacation home for a decade. Rather than $300/night hotels, families prefer spacious rentals in Vail and Lionshead villages that accommodate groups, and include posh features like private pools, wine cellars, outdoor decks, and fire pits.
Situated at 8,150 feet in the Gore Range, spas, and shops line heated streets, steps from the slopes and luxurious lodging. Many of the 1.3 million annual visitors come for North Trail System hikes, golfing at 17 championship courses, the Farmers’ Market & Art Show, and Bravo! Vail Festival after the snow melts.
AvantStay investment score: 8.53
Median home price: $375,000
22. Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe’s robust rental market features 16.1% annual appreciation and a 6.2% cap rate—indicating the potential for steady long-term returns. Tahoe brings families together on winter ski vacations and summer boating adventures.
Vacation homeowners command nightly rates similar to resorts ($355/night). Monthly rentals are popular, supplying housing to employees, relocating families, and students. Scenic views, lake or mountain access, and amenities like hot tubs, pools, and tennis courts put Tahoe properties in a league of their own.
For 15 million revelers, towering sugar pines and the spectacular Sierra Nevadas are a wonder to behold. The “Clearest Lake in the United States” is the main draw, producing the world’s finest drinking water. Two million years old, Tahoe ranks as one of the oldest lakes in the world—the largest and second-deepest in America. From Kings Beach in the north to Emerald Bay in the south, crowds flock here to fish, kayak, sail, and swim.
AvantStay investment score: 8.47
Median home price: $848,000
23. Park City, UT
Though the $1.4 million Park City price tag appeals to an elite investor class, the median home is a comfortable 2,071 sq ft. AvantStay data identified a 27.5% increase per square foot in 2021, revealing that accessible investment properties are paying off.
Soaring ceilings, gourmet kitchens, and entertainer patios are considered musts. For the best ROI, AvantStay experts recommend seeking properties in walkable communities near Promontory Ranch Club, Canyons Village, and historic Main Street. Hot properties receive multiple offers and sell 2% above list price within days.
Park City attracts 600,000 annual travelers to the Sundance Film Festival and Deer Valley Resort, ranked #2 in the West by SKI Magazine readers. Olympic Park—constructed for the 2002 Winter Olympics—remains a training ground and tourist draw. Thirty-five miles southeast of Salt Lake City, this market swells in summer, with proximity to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Zion National Park.
AvantStay investment score: 8.40
Median home price: $1,400,000
24. Telluride/Mountain Village, CO
Telluride is an accessible market offering four-seasons of outdoor recreation, less than 200 miles from Denver and Colorado Springs. With 18.7% annual home value appreciation, buyers shopping now could soon realize returns comparable to Whistler or Aspen.
Multi-million-dollar properties can be found in Telluride. AvantStay data points to Green Mountain Village—nestled between Green Mountain and Bear Creek Lake Park—for $587K median pricing and quicker returns.
Rated one of the world’s best ski-in, ski-out resorts, Telluride is easy to reach, whether flying nonstop from 10 major hubs to Montrose Regional Airport and driving 65 miles in, or taking Denver Air’s direct flights from Phoenix or Denver to Telluride Airport—13 minutes from Mountain Village.
A free 13-minute gondola connects Mountain Village with the Victorian National Historic Landmark District of Downtown Telluride, while Mountain Village provides impressive panoramic views of the 14,000-foot peaks, amid après-ski dining, local boutiques, and plaza activities.
AvantStay investment score: 8.33
Median home price: $587,000
25. Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge is two hours from Denver and Boulder or a day trip from Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, and Zion national parks. The population nearly doubled over 15 years to 5,000 residents seeking better quality of life. For many, this means a larger vacation home, as our data found cost-per-square-foot rose 76.2% in 2021.
Since the September 2021 moratorium on short-term rental investments, Breckenridge beckons to second home buyers. Prices are up 10.9% from last year, yet homes sell within eight days in this hot market. If the cap lifts, investors could realize returns around 19.7%.
Breckenridge Ski Area spans 2,908 powdery acres, featuring alpine slides, zipline tours, and North America’s highest chair lift. A picturesque main street greets visitors with preserved mining-era buildings—home to an art district, coffee shops, and 300+ boutiques. There’s much to explore—100 miles of trails, dog sledding tours, and whitewater rafting.
AvantStay investment score: 8.27
Median home price: $855,000
Following a year of tremendous growth, AvantStay continues to evolve and transform the hospitality industry. Coming off the heels of its recent Series B raise, AvantStay also launched their full-service brokerage division late last year. The vertically integrated approach assists existing clients and homeowners in purchasing income-producing homes with AvantStay handling the sourcing, onboarding, design, property management, and guest experience all under one platform. For more information on AvantStay’s brokerage division, please visit the website at https://avantstay.com/vacation-rental-management.