A great vacation can make you sigh and say, “I wish I could live here.” Well, dream no more. It turns out some of the best getaway destinations can be pretty affordable as far as rentals go.
The best way to save? Go small. Though “affordable” is relative to area median rents, these monthly rates are still cheaper than many one-week vacations—and you get to skip the travel time. Whether you are dreaming of tropical beaches or a rustic mountain retreat, these affordable rental homes will make you feel like you’re living on vacation.
Glamorous Miami is notoriously expensive, but you can find bargains just outside of downtown. And you don’t have to go far for a deal. The East Little Havana neighborhood is one of the closest to downtown—I-95 is the border between the two. A car will be necessary for your new life here, but you’ll still have views of modern high-rises, along with palm trees. East Little Havana is a mix of businesses and single- and multi-family homes, which gives it a more intimate, human scale.
This affordable, 200-square-foot cottage has way more character than most hotels in this great city. Route 41 is the main drag of the neighborhood, where you’ll find authentic Mexican and Latin cuisine (and markets), plus the occasional Chinese restaurant. And when you crave the exciting Miami nightlife, you’re just 10 minutes from downtown.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is known for breathtaking Southern beauty, from the candy-colored homes of the historic district to the grand old trees draped with Spanish moss that create canopies over the streets. It’s no surprise that rentals in the most-visited areas can command high rents, but Charleston’s relatively easy-to-navigate layout means you’re never far from fun. Or, for that matter, a great meal. The Cannonborough Elliotborough neighborhood is a food-lover’s paradise, and it also happens to be where you’ll find this beautiful, pint-size home. Craving Asian fare? Walk or bike two blocks south to Xiao Bao Biscuit, a restaurant on Spring Street located in a former gas station. Or, walk five blocks east to King Street, where there are dozens of stylish bars, cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants.
Of course, one of the main draws to Charleston is the history, and that’s not far away either. The Charleston Visitor Center (off of King Street) can point you in the direction of the best points of interest nearby.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The French Quarter isn’t the only area of New Orleans with old-fashioned beauty. The West Riverside neighborhood is full of the city’s famous shotgun-style homes (these petite cottages predated the tiny house trend by a hundred years or so). The streets are full of palms and flowering bushes, but are blissfully free of tourists.
This lovely little one-bedroom home has great curb appeal, but it’s also within walking distance of authentic New Orleans fare, like the local favorite Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar and Hansen’s Sno-Blitz, a family-run snow cone stand that’s been around since the 1930s. Make sure to bring a bike—it’s the best way to get to Audubon Park on the far west side of the neighborhood. This gorgeous green space isn’t just notable for its landscaping, but also for being the home to the Audubon Zoo.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is a long-overlooked destination. But a new generation is bringing the city to life with art galleries, trendy eateries, and bars. You can find all of the above in the ViBe Creative District, a neighborhood responsible for Virginia Beach becoming an arts destination.
This 1930s one-bedroom cottage is only a few blocks from the beach and smack in the middle of ViBe. There’s a great pizza place right across the street (Hearth Wood-Fired Cuisine & Craft Beer), but you can walk a couple of blocks in pretty much any direction and stumble upon a cool place to hang out. Wondering how you’d make a living in a vacation town? There’s a coworking space (1701 Virginia Beach Coworking) one block away on Virginia Beach Boulevard.
If you’ve grown weary of tourist-clogged beach towns with gimmicky shops and questionable entertainment options, Milford might be for you. Here, you’ll find a quiet beach surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Walnut Beach neighborhood and a boardwalk blissfully free of carnival rides, games, and anything else that’s not nature (Silver Sands Boardwalk). A smattering of local businesses will keep you happily fed and entertained, whether it’s the classic ice cream shop Walnut Beach Creamery or the preschool-turned-boutique-shopping-center Naugatuck Avenue Shopping Center.
This tidy, 1948 two-bedroom home will put you within walking distance of all of the above. While a car is handy for everyday errands, the tight streets are easier to navigate by foot or bike.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Located just across the bridge from the mega-mansions of Palm Beach, West Palm Beach has a decidedly less fussy vibe. Think of it as the artsy little sister to Palm Beach’s polished princess. You’ll find (generally) affordable antique and vintage stores on Route 1, and an assortment of bars and restaurants that range from tiki bars to gastropubs downtown. But if you prefer a more neighborhood-like vibe, head north to Poinciana Park. This down-to-earth residential area still has a bit of Florida glamour to it—you’ll find palm trees along the streets, and many front yards have tropical gardens.
This 1920s Spanish-style cottage features tropical plants in the front and backyard, which makes this hidden gem feel like miles away from everyday life—even if you’re living there every day.
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a must-visit for anyone who loves Hollywood history, vintage architecture, or even music festivals (Coachella happens just down the road). Design lovers have preserved the mid-century homes, hotels, shops, and other structures that made this destination famous back in the Sinatra era.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better Palm Springs location than this sunny, one-bedroom home. It’s just one block from E Palm Canyon Drive, where you’ll find all the stylish hotels and restaurants that routinely top must-visit lists. There’s the ACE Hotel & Swim Club and Hotel California, along with kitschy cocktail bar The Reef and swanky steakhouse Mr. Lyons Palm Springs. The location is so great, you’ll be glad you only have one bedroom with all the guest requests you’re sure to get. Good thing those fab hotels are nearby.
Maple Falls, Washington
If you prefer the mountains to the beach, Maple Falls offers the perfect permanent vacation spot. You’ll be among many mountains—and blissfully, not much else. This is an outdoor-lover’s dream, where you can spend your days exploring the terrain, traveling to different summits, and just taking in the fresh mountain air.
By night, this one-bedroom, chalet-style home couldn’t be cozier. And by day, the huge back deck—with its views of Sumas Mountain—is a truly epic setting for enjoying a cup of coffee. Maple Falls is near the Canadian border, in case you’d like a quick international jaunt. After all, Abbotsford (just across the border) is where you’ll find the closest shopping malls and big-box stores.
This story originally posted July 03, 2017; updated March 8, 2018.