Snowbirds aren’t the only ones escaping the snow (and willing to pay a premium to do it).  

By Marisa Spyker
August 20, 2019
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While there’s certainly something to entice visitors to the Sunshine State year-round, many will tell you that winter is when the magic really happens. Citrus groves are at their plumpest, temperatures are at their most idyllic, and sleepy beach towns come alive along with the annual influx of snowbirds.

But even those unable to escape for a three-month sabbatical still eye Florida for their cold-weather escape plans. Which means, if you’re lucky enough to own property on this pristine peninsula, you just might be sitting on a gold mine.

According to new data from Vrbo, vacation rentals in the Sunshine State—particularly those located on the Gulf coast from Sarasota and down south—are especially lucrative during the busy winter months, with some of the steepest income increases from summer to winter compared to other popular snowbird destinations. In analyzing rental data, the vacation rental marketplace found that, on average, Vrbo owners in Southwest Florida pulled in nearly $4,500 per booking during the winter season.

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In Naples, known for its sugar-sand beaches, world-glass golf courses, and swanky downtown, that increase was especially prominent with vacation homeowners raking in an average of $5,500 per booking—a whopping 135 percent more compared to rental incomes in late summer and early fall. Just north of Naples, rental homeowners in Fort Myers and Cape Coral see the second highest income growth, with listings expected to earn nearly $4,500 per booking. (Sarasota homeowners, meanwhile, can expect to earn an average of $4,000 per booking, while those in Clearwater and St. Petersburg pull in just south of $3,500 per booking.)

With perfect winter weather and kid-friendly beaches, the Southwest Florida region, as a whole, is an obvious choice for vacationers looking for a respite from the cold. But what makes booking rates so high? Accoring to Vrbo, winter travelers tend to extend their sun-soaking vacays to an average of two weeks. And with rental rates in Southwest Florida coming in at around $310 per night, 14 days in paradise can really add up.

Our advice? If you’re heading south this winter, maybe bring some friends along to cut the costs. And if you happen to already live in Southwest Florida, consider snagging a piece of the profits by listing your own home for rent—here are 7 tips for making your home more marketable.