Destin: Florida’s Under-the-Radar Beach Haven


Destin, the family-friendly, celebrity-studded beach paradise on Florida’s fabled Emerald Coast, is attracting new waves of high-net-worth individuals who are basking in and banking on its beauty.

“More people than ever before are coming,” said Caleb Spears, a realtor with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty. “In Destin, upscale elegance and Southern charm collide to create a truly unique experience. You can wear your flip-flops just about anywhere or dress up and attend some of the best dining and entertainment experiences in the nation. It has a laid-back atmosphere and epitomizes what a family-oriented beach community should be.”
By Author Nancy A. Ruhling

While all of these attributes traditionally have made it an attractive haven, he said the pandemic has really put it on the radar.

“Many people are able to work remotely for the first time in their career, and they’re migrating to the beach rather than being in a crowded metropolitan area,” he said. “This also applies to children who are able to go to school remotely, allowing the entire family the flexibility to travel to the beach and spend more time here than ever before.”

Chris “Stefan” Camp, realtor/owner/auctioneer at Luxury Estates Auction Co. and Luxury Estates Realty Group, said that while Destin has always been very popular for vacationers and buyers, “in the last eight months, it was mainly people looking for a primary residence not necessarily vacation rentals like usual. Many are coming from lockdown states/areas and are looking for homes to be able to work at home and home school.”

John Paul Somers, a real estate broker and owner of Somers & Co., agreed, adding that since the pandemic, he’s been busier than ever working with a new crop of buyers coming from Chicago, Seattle, New York and New Jersey.

He said they are attracted by a variety of factors, including the fact that Florida doesn’t levy a state income tax.

The fact that Destin is a convenient and easy drive from anywhere in the Southeast of the country, Mr. Spears said, also adds to its appeal, as do its beaches, which he called “the best in the nation—they’re consistently ranked among the top in the United States.”

The city’s investment potential is another key driver in this new growth.

“With some of the uncertainty surrounding other segments of the economy, real estate remains one of the most robust investments one can make,” Mr. Spears said. “Our market is no exception, with the average price of home sales up over 20% in most market segments compared to this time last year.”

Destin, he added, produces some of the best rental returns in the nation. He typically advises clients to target at least a 10% gross annual income, which on a $1 million property generates $100,000.

It’s the combination of “unparalleled beauty and income opportunity,” he said, that makes Destin a hot go-to destination.

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