15 Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

Thanks to vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo, anyone can earn extra cash by renting out their spare room, mother-in-law suite, or entire home to tourists.

In the U.S., short-term rental hosts can rake in an average of over $44,000 per year, according to market analysis firm AllTheRooms. But as with all real estate investments, your income potential depends heavily on where you buy your vacation rental property.

To help you find the right spot for your future B&B, LawnStarter ranked 2022’s Best Cities to Own a Vacation Rental.

We compared nearly 190 of the biggest U.S. cities based on revenue potential, initial investment costs, and average expenses. We also factored in entertainment options for guests, public safety, and climate.

Check out the top cities to own a vacation rental below.

1. Miami, FL

meunierd / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 67.18

Revenue potential rank: 1

Initial investment rank: 138

Overhead rank: 22

Entertainment rank: 7

Safety rank: 146

Climate rank: 46

2. New York, NY

Snowy weather in Manhattan Times Squarekmichal / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 66.98

Revenue potential rank: 4

Initial investment rank: 154

Overhead rank: 115

Entertainment rank: 1

Safety rank: 68

Climate rank: 56

3. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, Louisiana at nightf11 photography / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 60.49

Revenue potential rank: 7

Initial investment rank: 99

Overhead rank: 39

Entertainment rank: 10

Safety rank: 109

Climate rank: 55

4. Cincinnati, OH

CincinnatiAnne Kitzman / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 59.20

Revenue potential rank: 2

Initial investment rank: 88

Overhead rank: 51

Entertainment rank: 41

Safety rank: 120

Climate rank: 96

5. Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas, NevadaKobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 58.99

Revenue potential rank: 26

Initial investment rank: 81

Overhead rank: 70

Entertainment rank: 4

Safety rank: 18

Climate rank: 163

6. Dayton, OH

Dayton OhioAlex Balanov / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 58.53

Revenue potential rank: 9

Initial investment rank: 29

Overhead rank: 12

Entertainment rank: 105

Safety rank: 51

Climate rank: 102

7. Tampa, FL

Tampa, FloridaIlya Images / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 57.57

Revenue potential rank: 14

Initial investment rank: 63

Overhead rank: 94

Entertainment rank: 24

Safety rank: 15

Climate rank: 57

8. Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, TennesseeKevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 57.56

Revenue potential rank: 49

Initial investment rank: 25

Overhead rank: 7

Entertainment rank: 50

Safety rank: 78

Climate rank: 68

9. Orlando, FL

Orlando, Floridasongquan-deng / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 57.29

Revenue potential rank: 53

Initial investment rank: 37

Overhead rank: 41

Entertainment rank: 8

Safety rank: 143

Climate rank: 71

10. Augusta, GA

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 57.18

Revenue potential rank: 20

Initial investment rank: 16

Overhead rank: 15

Entertainment rank: 118

Safety rank: 69

Climate rank: 119

11. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia at night.Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 56.24

Revenue potential rank: 6

Initial investment rank: 66

Overhead rank: 146

Entertainment rank: 43

Safety rank: 19

Climate rank: 52

12. Nashville, TN

Nashville, Tennesseejdross75 / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 56.14

Revenue potential rank: 8

Initial investment rank: 95

Overhead rank: 81

Entertainment rank: 19

Safety rank: 126

Climate rank: 99

13. Hialeah, FL

Hialeah, Floridatome213 / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 56.12

Revenue potential rank: 51

Initial investment rank: 138

Overhead rank: 2

Entertainment rank: 178

Safety rank: 96

Climate rank: 46

14. Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, North CarolinaSean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 56.04

Revenue potential rank: 33

Initial investment rank: 80

Overhead rank: 37

Entertainment rank: 83

Safety rank: 11

Climate rank: 80

15. Eugene, OR

Eugene, OregonSean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Overall score: 56.02

Revenue potential rank: 10

Initial investment rank: 120

Overhead rank: 67

Entertainment rank: 74

Safety rank: 48

Climate rank: 45


Planning trip with paper mapgpointstudio / Shutterstock.com

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed below.

We then grouped those factors into six categories: Revenue Potential, Initial Investment, Overhead, Entertainment, Safety, and Climate.

We eliminated all cities — 11 total — lacking critical data, which resulted in a final sample of 189 cities.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each remaining city in each category. Finally, we averaged the scores for each metro across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 189).

These are the factors we considered:

  • Occupancy Rate in Past 12 Months
  • Average Daily Short-Term Rental Rate in Past 12 Months
  • Revenue in Past 12 Months
  • Median Listing Price per Square Foot
  • 1-Year Change in Median Listing Price per Square Foot
  • Median Annual Property Taxes
  • Average Per-Household Spending on Housekeeping Services
  • Average Per-Household Spending on Lawn and Garden Services
  • Average Per-Household Spending on Home Improvements
  • Average Per-Household Spending on Utilities, Fuel, and Public Services
  • Number of Attractions
  • Crime Index
  • Natural Hazards Index
  • Historical Average Annual Number of Extremely Hot Days
  • Historical Average Annual Number of Extremely Cold Days

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