Working vacation.

Thinking of buying a vacation rental in BC? Read this first.

Date25.07.2023
Words byREW Editor
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INTRODUCTION
As everyone’s favourite Canadian synth-rock band Loverboy once, said, “Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend.” And while that might have been true for everybody in the ‘80s, today, some of us are actively looking to work on the weekends to earn a little (or a lot of) extra cash.This has driven more than a few British Columbians to investigate the financial costs and potential gains of running a vacation rental, with many making the investment in property and testing out their hand at a new business venture.If you’ve ever wondered whether buying a vacation rental in BC is right for you, sit tight. We’re here to guide you through the process and provide information on the risks and benefits. Here’s what you need to consider.

Market in motion.


The vacation rental market in BC is like the Canucks head coaching position. Always changing, with plenty of unknown possibilities for the future.

Like a skilled artist, you need to study and understand your canvas before you start painting. Before you dive into the vacation rental market, it’s imperative you take a closer look at tourism trends, occupancy rates, seasonality, and rental rates in your target market. This will provide a snapshot of what to expect from your investment. There’s a difference between diving into an opportunity and diving into the deep end blindly.

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Start here.


You’ve heard of Airbnb—heck, it’s probably why you’re reading this guide. But here’s the question. Have you heard of AirDNA? Now you have.

AirDNA is one of the best places to learn about the vacation rental market before you start searching for properties, make an investment and begin welcoming visitors to your property. It’s full of data on vacation rentals in your target market - including metrics like average daily rental rates, occupancy rates, expected revenue and popular rental channels in a given market.

If you want to know where Airbnb is popular and where Vrbo is popular, AirDNA has you covered. The software also includes data on property managers, in case you’d like to know who’s popular in a given city.

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Do your homework.


Every neighbourhood in BC has a unique vibe. You need to figure out who’s going to be searching for a vacation rental in your area. Are you targeting families, adventurers, couples seeking a romantic getaway, or urbanites looking for a quiet retreat?

Identifying your potential guests will help you choose a location that fits the bill. Mountain views and ski bums in Whistler, a beachfront haven for dog owners in Tofino, or a vineyard vista for bachelorette parties in the Okanagan Valley—know your guest to find your best.

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Law and order.


Just as the coastal winds sculpt BC's rugged landscapes, laws and regulations shape the real estate market (sometimes more effectively than other times, but that’s a story for another time).
Delve into the nitty-gritty of zoning bylaws, property taxes, insurance requirements, and licensing regulations for vacation rentals before taking the plunge. Bonus, the forecast says your insomnia is definitely going to clear up. It’s a bit of a slog, but it’s essential if you’re serious about running a successful vacation rental.

Check with municipal offices for any restrictions or requirements, and don’t forget to investigate strata associations while you’re doing your due diligence.

Strata corporations have been known to put their foot down when it comes to short-term rentals. Some have set bylaws to limit or even completely ban short-term rentals, and going against these bylaws can be an expensive misstep. If an owner or resident violates a short-term rental strata bylaw, they can be fined up to a whopping $1,000 per day.

Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s also the key to keeping your investment secure.

DIY vs. DIFM.


Note: That’s do it yourself vs. Do it for me, for those of you who don’t do acronyms.
Property management for a vacation rental in BC involves more than cleaning and key handovers. It's about creating an unforgettable guest experience.
Will you manage your property independently or hire a professional company? Both have their perks.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer who loves to interact with people, self-management could be right up your alley. You can really create an amazing experience for your guests if you give them a great rundown of the property and area off the bat, and are available for any questions throughout their stay. If you'd rather leave it to the pros, a property management company will save you time and headaches.

Listing your property on platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com is a great way to draw more interest. These sites can help you reach a wider audience, but do your research and be prepared for listing fees.

Here’s a great breakdown of the fees on Airbnb and Vrbo from Barry Stuart.

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Every property tells a story.


A vacation rental property isn't just a financial investment. It's an opportunity to share a slice of BC's beauty with the world. Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental in Parksville, Penticton, or Port Moody, each location has something unique to offer both local and international tourists.

Visitors will bring their own tale, adding to the rich tapestry of stories that your property will come to represent. So, when you're hunting for that perfect property, ask yourself: what story do I want my vacation rental to tell? This is where the fun part of the adventure begins.

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Magic in the mosaic.


Your vacation rental’s success will depend not just on your financial commitment but also on the time, effort, and love you invest in understanding your community, the people who visit it, and the laws that govern it.

In the end, purchasing a vacation rental in BC isn’t just a business decision—it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s about sharing a piece of a community you love with others. It's about becoming part of the colourful mosaic that makes BC a true Canadian gem. And like any precious stone, your property will require careful, thoughtful shaping to reveal its true beauty.

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