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The Beginning of a Dream – How to get into the Vacation Rental Business

How to Start a Vacation Rental Business

I believe I was born to be an entrepreneur

It’s in my blood. I love starting businesses and I love serving others.

As a child, I watched my father work his regular job day in and day out while also balancing a successful plumbing business on the side. He valued helping others and often had to put his shoes back on after dinner to head out and fix someone’s water problem.

Just ask anyone in our area and they will tell you if my dad fixed it, he fixed it right.

My Mom did taxes as I grew up. She enjoyed the work very much and did really well for herself. She loved the job because it allowed her to work just a few months out of the year and to then enjoy the rest of the year with her children. Later, she opened a successful antique shop that she sold and profited from and also was a Realtor in our area until her retirement.

Ask anyone about her businesses and they will tell you that she was reputable and great to work with.

So, when I started my photography business years ago, I wanted to be known for the same…reputable, honest, hard-working, and dependable.

When we were blessed a few years back with a newer and larger home on our property, we had a great little house to offer as a rental. We were fortunate to have a nice family that rented from us for approximately 2 years and were grateful but felt there was an even better way to operate our rental home; as a vacation rental.

This time, it was my husband and I dreaming of what we could have in a Vacation Rental business. The idea was still the same though…we wanted to create something that people could depend on, to be honest, reputable and valuable for their needs.

Many people do not understand the differences between regular rental homes and vacation rental homes. They may question if they are ready to be a Vacation Home Owner?? Here are the things we found to be important when deciding to start this business!

It’s What’s On the Inside that Counts

First, we must furnish the home and maintain those furnishings. Buying furniture and creating a home atmosphere is right up my alley! My Mom and I love to shop Estate Sales (one reason why she was so good in the antique business) and I love to decorate. I tried to create an environment that would be warm, whimsical and most of all inviting. I will be responsible for keeping everything fresh and replacing furniture and furnishings as they are worn, broken, and dated.

Know Your Market

Second, we had to be ok without the monthly income. No longer were we secure with a 6 or 12-month lease, we would now trust that our area could support a house being rented nightly, weekly or monthly. For some areas, this would not be a great option. But, in an area where there are attractions of some sort, this is a great opportunity. For our area in Polk County, NC…tourism is very high. We are centrally located near several tourist destinations (Lake Lure and Asheville, NC are two very popular ones) and also have the Tryon International Equestrian Center located just 3 miles from our door. We knew that rentals were especially needed at this time.

Hospitality Must be a Top Priority

Third, we had to be ready to get our hands involved and serve our guests! We are neighbors to our Rental home so it is important for us to be personally involved with each of our guests. We handle all inquiries, communication, maintenance and stocking, and cleaning. I could easily hire out the cleaning, but I am pretty particular when I go into a place that I am renting, so I feel like it is best to ensure personally that everything is kept to the standard we require! I want to be sure each time someone checks in that the get the experience that I hope to get each time I go out of town.

Learn the Business Aspects for Greatest Reward

Fourth, we had to be capable of handling the business and marketing aspects of vacation home ownership. This is not a deal breaker. There are quality property management companies out there who specialize in this part of the process. We felt though that we could handle this portion which saved us the 25% fee we would pay if we had turned it over. The areas that we became proficient in very quickly involved: listing our home on the top three vacation rental sites (this is an affiliate link provided for your convenience…Airbnb…we prefer this site the most…more on that in the next post!), responding to all types of inquiries and deciding who we would invite to our home, paying taxes locally and to the state on time for the rentals, as well as handling any house emergencies or disputes that may arise while guests are in town.

So, as you can probably see, for us, this is not just another business. We have carefully weighed the options and counted the costs of sharing our home and farm with people who are traveling from all around the world to our area. We consider ourselves blessed that we were gifted with this opportunity and can’t wait to share tips and tools that you can use if you decide to start your own Vacation Rental Business (or any other business for that matter!).

Be sure to stay tuned as we share our updates and announcements this year!  Lots of growth and opportunities for Living Water Retreats!


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Hey y'all!!


I'm Kelli! It's so nice to have you here! I am a blessed mother of five, the photographer at Kelli C Photography, a blogger at Leaning On Her Beloved, one of the proprietors of Living Water Retreats and the wife of the most handsome farmer around here on our little piece of heaven Living Water Farm! This little website pulls all of our adventures into one place! Enjoy your time here!

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