If you're looking for the best place to buy a vacation home in Florida, you're spoilt for choice. Florida is an old-time favorite with vacationing families and wealthy retirees, and it has some of the most beautiful beaches and scenery anywhere in the United States. And Disneyworld, of course. And awesome food. We could keep going.
Ultimately, however, as every other state, Florida is experiencing changes in where the best places to buy a vacation home are, partly to do with the pandemic, and partly with how far people want to travel to get some sun.
We've asked local real estate experts to name the spots that will deliver on rental income – and be worth staying at yourself.
See: How to buy a house – a first-time buyer's guide
1. Best place to buy a vacation home in Florida: Kissimmee
And the best place to buy a vacation home in Florida is... nowhere near a beach. However, the beautiful historic city of Kissimmee is next to plenty of other attractions. UpNest's CEO, Simon Ru, who has over 8 years of experience in the real estate industry, including helping sell thousands of homes, including in vacation spots in Florida, said: 'Kissimmee is always #1 on my list, due to its affordable homes and proximity to Disney World and Universal Studios.'
Kissimmee is also right next to Lake Tohopekaliga and has its own waterfront park. Trey Van Tuyl, a Miami-based realtor, seconds Simon's view: 'With a median listing price of around $250,000, Kissimmee is another destination that's great for a vacation or second home. There's a charming old town, pleasant atmosphere, and plenty of nearby attractions.'
See: Best ways to cut house moving costs – as revealed by consumer experts
2. The runner-up: Panama City Beach
Simon also recommends Panama City Beach as an 'affordable beach location with high rental income possibilities. You're aiming for a high return on investment, where hopefully your mortgage is covered (or almost covered) by your rental income.'
'Affordable' isn't the first thing we associate with Florida homes, so looking for the less obvious, but equally beautiful locations pays off: 'Ultimately, in Florida, you want to look for locations where you can earn a great cap rate – in many beachfront properties, this can be over 4%. You can have fun at the beach and make money, too.'
Trey also recommends Panama City Beach as a great value-for-money option: 'For a destination with a much more reasonable median listing price, Panama City Beach is a fantastic option. It's relaxed, family-friendly, and continues to draw visitors. A spacious condo here will be easy to rent out to vacationers.'
Jonathan Sanchez, a real estate investor and co-founder of Parent Portfolio, adds that there's another reason locations like Panama City Beach are becoming more popular: 'These spots are great for people trying to get away from the cold seasons in the Midwest wanting to save some travel time compared to driving an additional four for five hours to Orlando.'
3. Miami Beach, Miami – a favorite that will never go out of fashion
This option will surprise no one, but Miami Beach remains one of the best places to buy a vacation home, because you just can't beat the miles of white sand. The typical value of a median-priced home in Miami Beach is $384,688, and you will never be out of rental income there.
See: Lake Tahoe is the best place to own a second home in the US – here's why
Trey sums up: 'In my opinion, Miami Beach will always be a solid investment. Visitors continue to flock here, and there will always be plenty of opportunity to create rental income. I see North Beach, in particular, becoming more and more desirable.'
Anna Cottrell is Consumer Editor across Future Plc Home titles. She has a background in academic research and is the author of London Writing of the 1930s. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening.
The top 2 trends to emerge from Chelsea Flower Show 2021
The famous horticultural festival is a melting pot of future trends – here are the top two you need to know about
By Megan Slack •
Stair paneling ideas – 10 ways to dress up stair walls in style
Be inspired by stair paneling ideas to create depth or bring in color, and which fulfil a practical purpose, too
By Sarah Warwick •
Cerys Matthews: The singer, songwriter and radio DJ talks to us exclusively about what home means to her
The Welsh singer, songwriter and radio DJ, Cerys Matthews, on her go-to interiors look and why Abigail Ahern is a style icon
By Rhoda Parry •
How to make elderflower cordial
Use this fail-safe recipe to make elderflower cordial – summer's most iconic drink
By Lola Houlton •
Catherine Zeta-Jones: The well-traveled actress discusses the meaning of 'home'
The Oscar-winning icon talks about her childhood, life in Bermuda, and how she is at her happiest within her four walls
By Jennifer Ebert •
5 of the most beautiful new hotels in the Caribbean – your next vacation awaits you
White-sand wanderlust awaits at these stylish new hotspots...
By Ruth Doherty •
5 of the best new design hotels in the US – everything you need to know
From the Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Downton LA to the Meyer Davies-elevated Arlo Midtown in New York...
By Ruth Doherty •
7 British period drama locations every TV and movie fan should visit
These stand-out locations made famous by British period dramas mustn't be missed – from the real-life Downton Abbey to Bridgerton's houses
By Holly Reaney •
Can I buy property in Europe after Brexit? We investigate
Can you still buy a holiday home in Europe? We give you the low down and suggest the hot places to buy property post Brexit
By Arabella Youens •
Author Iona McLaren reveals the secrets of Bodnant Garden – and how to recreate its ambiance in our exteriors
The esteemed author discusses design secrets, her favorite plants, and bringing the botanical beauty of Bodnant into our back garden
By Megan Slack •