So, you’ve accomplished the American dream—you own a house. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you rent. Doesn’t matter. Because, you know what’s way more baller than owning a house? Owning a vacation house.
And what’s better than owning a vacation house? Getting paid for owning it. Yeah, you heard us. We looked at the top vacation destinations in each of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia), researched the median home price, compared it against the median price-per-night for a vacation rental in the area and calculated just how long it would take to pay off the purchase of your dream vacation home. You’ll be shocked by how quickly you can break even in some places.
Scroll over the interactive map below to see detailed information on the housing price in each state and the number of years it takes to break even on a home purchase by renting it out as a vacation property:
Note: Our calculations were made using Zillow’s Zestimate score. In the instance of a Zestimate not being available, we used the median sale price or listing price for a home in a given area. Estimates are valid as of August, 2014. Area info was sourced from Wikipedia and the state tourism websites.
We calculated based on the assumption that your house would be booked as a vacation rental for 70% of the year. The good news? That gives you 109 days to hang out in your awesome new house—which, face it, is way more time than you need, given that there is no way you get more than 100 days of vacation a year. If you do, we hate you. But we’ll get over it if you let us come hang out at your beach house.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Home price: $217,000
Median nightly rental rate: $120
Years to break even: 7
Why buy? Whether you’re a diehard Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, a storm chaser or a city slicker wanting to escape the daily grind, Gulf Shores, Alabama has a lot to offer you. Sandy beaches, southern charm, ocean fishing and a couple of top-rated golf resorts are just a few of the draws of the area.
Home price: $248,000
Median rental price: $200
Years to break even: 5
Why buy? Alaska—it doesn’t get any more real than this. Real bears, real moose, real glaciers and real outdoorsmen. If you’re looking to get back to nature in a big way, this is the spot for you. Plus, if you own a vacation rental here, you are in the minority, so you can pretty much charge whatever you want to let people stay in it.
Home price: $137,000
Median nightly rental rate: $100
Years to break even: 5.5
Why buy? Hey Snowbird, Arizona is calling, and boy does she have a deal for you. Property prices in Tucson are cheap, the weather is seriously sunny, and the attractions are plentiful. Golf, anyone? Apparently there is also a really popular gem and mineral show held every February in Tucson that attracts a number of visitors. Maybe rocks aren’t your thing. Who cares? Someone likes rocks, and that someone might like to pay you to stay in your new house.
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Home price: $167,000
Median nightly rental rate: 100
Years to break even: 6.5
Why buy? The birthplace of American icons, such as Bill Clinton and Johnny Cash, Arkansas is a lot cooler than it generally gets credit for. It’s packed with 52 state parks, seven nationally maintained wild areas and the country’s first national river. Hot Springs boasts a historic downtown and lures tourists with two different music festivals and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Home price: $320,000
Median nightly rental rate: $280
Years to break even: 4.5
Why buy? You can pay off your Lake Tahoe vacation home in 4.5 years. “Um, exsqueeze me?” you say. Yup, we said 4.5 years. Lake Tahoe is a wonderful spot for tourism. If skiing and snowboarding is your thing—you’re in luck. If hiking and biking is your thing—you’re in luck. If swimming and boating is your thing—you’re in luck. If golf is your thing—you’re in luck. And guess what? If partying into the wee hours and losing all your money playing craps is your thing—well, then you’re in luck too.
Home price: $645,000
Median nightly rental rate: $215
Years to break even: 11.5
Why buy? You had us at Dumb and Dumber, Breckenridge. Did you know that portions of Dumb and Dumber that were supposed to be in Aspen were actually filmed in Breckenridge? What else do you need to know to buy a home here? Get your checkbook out. Fine. So, you need a little more convincing. The area boasts some of the best skiing in the world and the town itself looks like it jumped off the page of a children’s storybook. Yes, it really is so picturesque it’s dumb.