The Best Destination to Buy a Beach Vacation Home in the U.S., According to New Research

Beautiful waterfront views never get old.

Sunrise behind a row of palm trees creates long shadows resembling stripes in the pavement. Along the beautiful Gulf Shores Beachwalk on an early autumn morning.
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Who doesn't like waking up to the sound of crashing waves and swaying trees? Beach vacations — whether by the ocean or near a lake — are the perfect way to unwind and recharge while soaking up some vitamin D. So if you've always wanted to invest in a beach home but haven't decided on a destination yet, vacation rental company Vacasa just released its annual report ranking the best places to buy a beach house in 2022.

A sandy hill pathway lined with trees near the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama
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And the winner is (drum roll, please): Gulf Shores, Alabama. According to the report, homeowners here can expect to make up to $56,198 in yearly rental income. With a median home sale price of $402,905, which is a lot lower than many destinations in neighboring Florida, for example, Gulf Shores is the perfect combination of affordability and natural, unspoiled beauty.

Aerial view of Orange Beach, Alabama at sunset in June
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With more than 32 miles of pristine beaches washed by the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the coastal city attracts year-round visitors looking to bask in the sun and enjoy the freshest Gulf seafood. Families flock here to take advantage of the many kid-friendly amenities such as water and amusement parks, dolphin watching tours, and various arts and culture events. Even those who are not big on water sports love returning to Gulf Shores for the world-class golf courses and excellent dining options. And thanks to Gulf Shores International Airport, the destination is easily accessible from every part of the country. No wonder the city and neighboring Orange Beach, which have a combined population of fewer than 20,000 residents, saw a whopping 6.1 million visitors in 2020.

As a pelican flies by, the sunrise shines brightly sea and a sandy beach with a driftwood log along the Gulf of Mexico coast of Gulf Shores, Alabama.
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"The Alabama-Florida Coast has transformed into one of the top beachfront vacation destinations," Daned Kirkham, senior director of real estate for Vacasa, told Travel + Leisure exclusively. "The stunning landscape, combined with a variety of activities for all types of travelers draws guests to Gulf Shores year-round, providing second home buyers with a steady stream of guests and vacation rental income."

On Vacasa's newly released rankings of best beach vacation home destinations, Gulf Shores is followed by Corolla in North Carolina and Navarre Beach, Florida. The company analyzed home sales and vacation rental data from the last 12 months for waterfront vacation destinations in the U.S. to determine these rankings.

Endless beach views and Southern hospitality certainly sound like something we could get used to.

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