Why I Chose a 30A Vacation Rental as My First Real Estate Investment

When I first visited the 30A area, I knew it was somewhere special. My family and I were in awe of the scenery and welcoming feeling in each place we passed through. Everyone we encountered was friendly and you could sense the pride they had in their community. We started thinking that 30A would be a great place to purchase a vacation home for our own use and to rent out.

brakish water in south walton 30a

I had always been interested in investing in real estate but wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted to start. Once I saw the 30A beaches, I was sold and knew that I wanted to see them again and again. The beauty of the turquoise waters and pristine white sand are the main reason why vacationers flock to 30A. The beaches are clean, safe, and less crowded than most Florida beaches.

The beach wasn’t the only reason though. One of the most unique things about the 30A area is that there are about 25,000 acres of protected forest, wetlands, and rare dune lakes to explore. There are not many places you can find beautiful beaches and so many opportunities to be engulfed in other natural environments too. The rare coastal dune lakes grabbed my attention because they are only found in a handful of places in the world. Dune lakes are a natural phenomenon where fresh water meets saltwater, separated only by a natural berm of sand. When it rains heavily, the waters mix and create a brackish ecosystem where both fresh and saltwater species can survive.  All year long you can find nature lovers and families visiting the South Walton 30A corridor to see the rare dune lakes.


With all the 30A area had to offer I only had one more thing to really consider, the return on investment. Every real estate investor wants to find a home that builds equity while it brings in rental income. I started researching and found that the home values in the 30A corridor have good appreciation that is normally higher than national averages.  I also took into consideration that approximately 40% of the 30A area is protected, which “tips” the scales when considering supply and demand. There is only so much land available to develop, and that supply is being reduced as the area continues to grow. The notion that 30A, even if every inch of developable land is developed, will not be another overdeveloped and overcrowded beach destination, made it even more attractive to me.

beach pic from 30a

In addition, I looked at the data regarding visitors by season. The 30A area really sets itself apart when it comes to attracting vacationers, and not just during the Summer months. As with most beach destinations, Winter months are the slowest, but 30A hosts many events during these months that entice tourists to make a trip. The 30A Songwriters Festival is one of these events, and it draws visitors and artists from all over the country. So, while 30A has the same slower seasons, they have more to offer year-round than other beach destinations.

Who I would be renting to was also important to me. Renting out a home means opening yourself up to the possibility of damages to your property caused by renters. This isn’t something often encountered by those who rent to vacationers (more so applies to residential), but I wanted to know about anything that could even remotely affect my investment income. So, I looked at the data on visitor demographics for 30A. I found that 30A was mostly a family vacation destination, but also attracted young professionals and retirees. These were exactly the type of renters I wanted.

Current Spring 2019 tracking data from Downs & St, Germain Research, shows the same is still true. The typical vacationer is 51 years old. The top reason for visiting is family vacation. Even during Spring Break, while nearby Panama City Beach and Destin tend to attract the lively college crowd, 30A is mostly filled with families. For your first rental property, having responsible renters is priceless! This is true for residential and/or vacation rentals in my opinion.

I have been extremely happy with my 30A real estate investment (see my vacation home here!). So happy that my family and I are already looking at purchasing another. If you are interested in investing in a luxury beach property on 30A, having a Realtor who knows the local area is a must. I pride myself in providing knowledgeable service to those looking to buy or sell a home in the 30A area.

John LaForte , Realtor

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida

How to Find Your 30A Dream Home

30a beach pic 3Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A stretches 24 miles along the Emerald Coast. Many people are drawn to the area because of the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. But that’s not all this area has to offer.

The 30A area is a great place to call home. Dotted with unique beach communities, brimming with small town charm and luxury amenities, many people decide to make this eutopia their permanent residence.

The 30A area is a hot market for home buyers. The 25,000 acres of protected state forests and dune lakes prevent over-development, and that means property here is in high demand.

So, how do you find your perfect 30A dream home? The first step is finding a Realtor who is familiar with the area and what each 30A community has to offer. A knowledgeable Realtor is a vital resource when home shopping. They can help you decide which community aligns with the lifestyle you are looking for, and then find a home that fits your needs.

After you select a Realtor, you can use these three tips as a guideline to find your perfect piece of real estate along 30A.

  1. Visit each community: The 30A area has defined planned communities that each have their own style and design. Some of the most popular communities are:
  • Alys Beach: This community features whitewashed surfaces and locally sourced materials. The Bermuda inspired architecture of Alys Beach makes you feel as if you are on a permanent vacation. Views of the Gulf and cool sea breezes are part of everyday life. Courtyards and water features are plentiful here. All homes here are built beyond code requirements and to the standard of Fortified. Alys Beach is the first community in the world to require these high standards to protect against natural disasters. With first class amenities, like the zero-entry Caliza pool and its open-air restaurant, Alys Beach is the definition of luxury living.
  • WaterSound: This community features winding wooden boardwalks, trails, and bridges, connecting the homes. This community is golf cart friendly and residents enjoy the many amenities offered, such as pools, gathering areas, parks, green spaces, and nearby golf courses. WaterSound provides a tranquil lifestyle that is welcoming for families, retirees, and young professionals.
  • WaterColor: If you want Southern charm then WaterColor may be the place for you. The homes here provide that small town feel with wide covered porches and tin roofs. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, protected State Forest and Western Lake, homeowners here have the best of 30A available to them. They also have resort style amenities like the Beach Club, a Gulf front swimming pool, and a boardwalk leading to a private beach access.
  • Seaside: If you want to have the “Best Beach on Earth” for families (Travel + Leisure magazine) steps away, then Seaside is a must-see community. Seaside is also the place to be when it comes to festivals, concerts and fun. The homes here are designed with small town appeal featuring picket fences in front of pastel colored beach cottages. Seaside was even featured in The Truman Show!
  • Rosemary Beach: Friendly faces and community are what you will find in Rosemary Beach. This community is designed with tradition in mind. From the brick-lined streets to the locally owned cafes, Rosemary Beach residents enjoy a sense of nostalgia. This community embraces connectivity and is completely pedestrian friendly. Residents and visitors enjoy the weekly farmer’s market, private community beach, and the 2.3-mile Rosemary Beach Fitness and Walking Trail.


  1. Consider Usage: Will you be renting your property as a vacation rental or living in your home fulltime? Vacation rentals are popular here in the 30A area. Many people purchase a home to use as a summer house and rent it out the rest of the year to visiting tourists. Others use their home as strictly a real estate investment, renting it to tourists year-round. Then there are the home buyers who are permanent residents. When home shopping, you should take your intentions into consideration. If you are looking for an investment property, your Realtor can target listings that fit your expectations as far as rental income and are in communities with short term rental guidelines that match your needs. If you will be living in your home, then what’s important to you will be different. You may be more interested in information on schools, family activities, amenities, and less interested in rental value. Having a Realtor who knows the local area is a huge benefit when it comes to these details.
  2. Check Out the Amenities: All the 30A communities offer homeowners something different as far as amenities go. Pools, beach access, and gathering areas are common, but many of the communities offer amenities that extend far beyond those basics. You can find everything from exclusive club memberships (some with golf courses) to private community beaches and nature trails. Your Realtor can provide you all amenity information associated with each community to ensure you find a home within a community that provides you with the lifestyle you want.

Finding your dream home in the 30A area doesn’t have to be difficult. With these tips, and a good Realtor, you can make your dream of living a luxurious beach life a reality!

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