Is it smart to buy a beach condo? Do you own, or do you have

friends or family that do now own or have owned beach condos?

I have been considering buying a beach condo in the gulf area. Maybe Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama, or Destin, Florida.

If I do buy one, it will be beachside with a good clear view of the gulf. How many nights/weeks would one reasonably expect to rent a condo of this sort? How much does one generally pay for housekeeping and management? If one decided to forego a management company, is it fairly easy to find good housekeepers?

What are the negative aspects to doing this? For the record, I live in Carroll County, Georgia, and adjoining Cleburne County, Alabama (where I have a farm on family property), so I’m about 300 miles from Destin and Orange Beach.

Any info or feedback would be appreciated, but among all else, I am particularly interested in knowing how often I could reasonably expect to rent out a fairly nice unit. I have asked real estate agents, and gotten a pretty broad range of answers. I’d like to hear what property owners have to say about it all.

edit: when I ask “is it smart” I simply mean as in fiscally. I can buy at least 3 pretty nice rentals in Carroll County, Georgia for what I could buy one condo at the gulf. It would be nice, though, to be able to go down in the spring/fall/winter, and rent it during the summer, plus, when the market improves, there is a possibility you could make good money on a re-sell.

If you don’t plan to live there all the time, check out the arrangements for renting it out, if any.

In my area, we have beach condos that are totally flexible – the owner may live there, be an absentee landlord with long-term tenants, or rent by the day, week or month. Optionally, the front desk will handle rental, cleaning, checkin/out, etc., for a fee of course. You can even tell the management that you want it reserved for certain weeks and rented to the max otherwise, which allows you to rent it yourself to trusted friends but get extra money from other times you don’t need it.

Not all places are that flexible, and you should note the restrictions carefully before you buy.

As to how often, how much, etc., that is quite dependent upon the particular location and unit. Before you buy, ask to see the rental history.

I would reserve for myself maybe 8 weeks of the year, that being in spring, fall, and winter. The rest of the year I would rent to vacationers by the night (like 2 or 3 minimum), or by the week.

I own a beachfront condo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I have one on the bay, too.

Even though I know they will rent and do well, it feels like they are always hanging over my head (pressure to rent), and I go week to week thinking about something going wrong.

You have to have a plan in case the fridge burns out, the A/C crashes, etc. This whole endeavor is for the organized, dynamic, think-on-their feet, flexible person. Stress resilience a must.

I have the nicest cleaning lady. My properties are desirable enough that I can refuse to rent to people if they don’t give me the warm fuzzies. Getting repeat families and getting to know them without being a hawk over them is the key!


Thank you very much for the feedback. So, do you manage the property yourself, or have someone do that for you? How many days/weeks per yr do you rent them?

I handle everything.

They rent from mid-May to October. 80% is weekly and the rest are two-week rentals.