Why Buying Property in These 5 Southern Vacation Destinations Could Be a Great Investment

Skyline view of Branson, Missouri with the display showing at the landing waterfront park area.
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Real estate can be one of the best investments for generating consistent income, but real estate investors often focus on long-term rentals with leases of a year or longer. While there is something to be said for locking in your rental income for long periods of time, short-term rentals have their benefits, too.

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Find: The Do’s and Don’ts of Buying a Vacation Home With Family

For instance, you will have a vacation home you can rent out most of the time, then use it for your own weekend getaway when it’s not in use. And if you buy in a hot market, you can even generate significant investment income with your vacation property.

To that end, the South is a particularly good place to buy properties right now — both for primary residences and vacation homes. We’ll focus on the latter here, highlighting some southern vacation destinations to consider for your next purchase. These cities are not only great places to vacation, but can be excellent investments, too.

Sevierville, Tennessee

Sevierville borders Pigeon Forge to the north and is the birthplace of Dolly Parton. This area is a popular destination for tourists visiting attractions like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. It’s also a hop, skip and a jump to the Great Smoky Mountains, making it ideal for a weekend escape.

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The Smokies is a huge draw for travelers as the park welcomed over 14 million guests in 2021. Dollywood alone attracts millions of guests every year (its 2022 opening day is set for March 12), and there is plenty more to do in the area, including Ripley museums, mini-golf and the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster.

Not only can Sevierville provide substantial vacation rental income, but home values in the area are up 46.6% year-over-year. The median home value there is nearly $500,000; in early 2020, it was around $250,000.

Take a Look: How Much It Costs To Buy a Home in These Popular Winter Vacation Destinations

Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City is a small and unassuming town that also provides easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains. Although Bryson City is small with a population of under 2,000, the town itself has a lot to offer. It features a quaint downtown with plenty of restaurants, cafes and breweries.

The whole area is great for those who love nature and the outdoors, too. There are pristine streams and wildflowers, and Bryson City is part of the Appalachian Trail. There are also many outdoor activities in Bryson City, such as whitewater rafting and stand-up paddleboarding. Because there are many outdoor activities there, it makes for an inexpensive getaway.

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The one-year change in home values in Bryson City is 17.5%, so there is plenty of room for appreciation.

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Surfside Beach, Texas

Surfside Beach is a town that one might call a hidden gem, yet it seems like it should already be wildly popular. After all, the town sits on Follet’s Island right on the Gulf of Mexico. However, just 627 people were permanent residents as of 2019.

Nevertheless, easy access to saltwater beaches means this town is a haven for surfing, fishing, and great seafood. And if you also want some big-city appeal, Houston is just an hour’s drive north of Surfside Beach.

For a beach town, homes here are still relatively affordable. However, home prices are also rising rapidly; the median sale price is $440,000, which is up 31.7% year-over-year. The median price in January 2020 was just $225,000.

McGaheysville, Virginia

McGaheysville is one of the best places to buy a rental property in the country right now. The town is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park, which itself is a little more than an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C. Hence, properties in McGaheysville can serve as a weekend getaway for people in the nation’s capital and the surrounding areas. Of course, Shenandoah is a great place for outdoor activities like hiking and camping, too.

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Homes in McGaheysville are not outlandishly expensive either The median price is $308,715. That price is a 14.2% one-year increase.

More: Why Buying Property in These Vacation Destinations Could Be a Great Investment

Branson, Missouri

Branson is a small town in the southwestern corner of Missouri. It seems a bit isolated if you pull it up on the map, but Branson has something for the whole family. Some of the top attractions include a theme park called Silver Dollar City, the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, and Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park. In 2018, Silver Dollar City alone welcomed nearly 2.2 million guests. There is also 76 Country Boulevard, a strip in Branson that features a variety of entertainment.

Home values in Branson were mostly flat from early 2019 until March 2021, when they started to rise. Now, the year-over-year price change is 39.6% there. The median price in January 2022 was $229,000.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.
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