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10 best cities to own an Airbnb rental in 2023

April 14, 2022, 9:00 AM UTC

After six months of looking, Brittany Ward found the perfect Tampa home in March to launch her first Airbnb rental: a three-bedroom brick house with an in-ground pool. Of course, placing the winning bid (there were 25 other offers) amid this ongoing housing frenzy took both strategy and luck. Perhaps the greater feat? She has already completed a $25,000 renovation of the home and has it listed on Airbnb.

“Within eight hours of posting the home, I had four bookings,” Ward told Fortune. She views the Airbnb rental as a great investment vehicle that shouldn’t absorb too much time away from her day job—running a marketing agency she founded five years ago—and will allow her to benefit from soaring home appreciation in Tampa.

She might just be in luck: On Thursday, Fortune named Tampa one of the top 10 cities in which to own an Airbnb rental heading into next year.

Fortune poured over reams of real estate data to find the top places to own short-term rentals listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. We looked at America’s 100 largest cities, and, in total, weighted eight metrics. Our metrics fell into three categories: rental demand (for example, market occupancy rates), earnings potential (monthly revenue relative to regional home prices), and growth (growth of listings in the market).

Our top spot went to Santa Ana, Calif. It was followed by Hialeah, Fla. (No. 2); Fort Wayne, Ind. (No. 3); Glendale, Ariz. (No. 4); Miami (No. 5); Tampa (No. 6); Riverside, Calif. (No. 7); Tulsa (No. 8); Chandler, Ariz. (No. 9); and Mesa, Ariz. (No. 10).

In November 2019, Patrick Gillan agreed he’d act as a property manager for his friend's Fort Wayne (ranked No. 3) home while he was deployed to the Middle East. Ultimately, the 46-year-old real estate agent decided to list his friend's home on Airbnb. The result? The three-bedroom mid-century ranch was a hit on the home listing site. There wasn't exactly anything special about the property, which was well outside the city's downtown. Instead, Gillan thinks it boils down to the fact that although Fort Wayne is growing, it is not yet flooded with Airbnb rentals.

"I have a number of clients in Chicago and Washington—and even people from California—who are looking to invest in real estate here," Gillan says.

The common theme among top-ranked cities? They aren't oversaturated.

Over the past decade, tourism hubs like New Orleans and Nashville have been among the biggest benefactors of the rise of Airbnb. Now, cities like Nashville and New Orleans are on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to both occupancy rates and rental growth rates. In both of those areas, the cities we ranked shine. Look no further than No. 1 ranked Santa Ana. It boasts both a 79% occupancy rate and a 25% annual growth rate in listings.

In total, Zev and Melissa Forrest have eight Airbnb properties in California—including a profits machine in Riverside, Calif. (No. 7 on our list). What's special about the market? Relative to Los Angeles, Riverside's home prices are a bit more affordable, while the short-term rental market there isn't yet oversaturated.

"The profit margin is much higher [here]. Riverside housing is more affordable than a larger city like Los Angeles, but the short-term rent we receive is still somewhat in line with homes in Los Angeles," Zev tells Fortune.

Zev's advice for anyone getting into the Airbnb game? Do your investment research, but also focus on making your property stand out when it comes to design and amenities—even if it comes at a dollar cost.

"We bought our Riverside property in 2018 and since then have continued to invest in the home to enhance the guest experience. Continuing to elevate the design and amenities of the home has increased our profit about 15% year over year," Zev tells Fortune.

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