Some Cook County residents make money running vacation rentals while others struggle to find a place to live.

Some Cook County residents make money running vacation rentals while others struggle to find a place to live.

The feeling that all of Cook County’s vacation rentals are owned and operated by large corporations is a false narrative, according to one local.

“Many of us who manage real estate and live in Cook County will tell you that it takes up a lot of our personal time,” said Plamen Dimitrov, a local resident. “For me and my wife, it means spending many hours cleaning and maintaining the property. Most of us choose to do it not because we want to keep busy, but because we have to supplement our income so we can afford to live in Cook County.”

The idea raises an interesting question: Should homes be seen as income generators that allow some people to stay in Cook County while others struggle to find a place to live? Another complicated piece of the puzzle is the housing crisis facing the tourist-driven economy of the North Shore.

Dimitrov shared some of his personal experience owning and operating a vacation rental during the August 1 meeting of the Cook County Vacation Rental Committee. He also spoke with Joe Friedrich of WTIP about vacation rentals during a recent interview. audio below.

Dimitrov and his wife, Diana, arrived in Kok County from Bulgaria in 2003. They first came on work visas and worked at the Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte for many years. In their early years at Bluefin, the couple lived in subsidized employee housing. The condominiums were owned and operated by North Shore Resort. In the end, the couple saved enough money to buy their first home. The three-bedroom house is located near the Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort. Dimitrov said the house was part of an association of about a dozen homes. At the time they moved, around 2008, Dimitrov said they were the only full-time residents on the road.

“The rest of the homes were second homes or vacation homes,” he said.

The family, who now has two children, lived in the Lutsen house for about 10 years. As their children grew up and became more involved in the events in the Grand Marais, the family bought a house in the city in 2020 and decided to start renting their house in Lutsen as a short-term rental property. The home now rents out for somewhere between $250 and $280 a night. On average, the net income from property for Dimitrov and his family is about $8,000. Net income, in this case, includes any money left after the mortgage, taxes, upgrades, and cleaning costs are taken into account. In other words, the house earns money for the local family in addition to the long-term investment in its establishment.

As the community grapples with the ongoing housing crisis, Dimitrov said housing shortages have been a reality in Cook County for decades. He said workforce housing shortages existed long before the vacation rental industry emerged.

“I don’t think vacation rentals are to blame for the housing shortage in the area,” he said.

Not everyone agrees with Dimitrov. A recent survey organized by Cook County officials illustrates this fact. Of those who completed the vacation rental survey, more than 70 percent said they were full-time residents of Cook County, Director of Land Services Tim Nelson said. The people who took part in the survey on the first topic said they wanted the local Vacation Rentals Committee to discuss it, which is how rental incomes affect the long-term rental housing or home ownership options of local residents.

Of the nearly 600 people who completed the survey about vacation rentals in Cook County, more than 60 percent of people who answered the survey said they had either a somewhat unfavorable opinion, or a very unfavorable opinion about vacation rentals in Cook County. Meanwhile, about 34 percent had a favorable impression of short-term rentals.

Whatever effect vacation rentals have on housing stock, it remains the focus of debate when it comes to the love or hate many in Cook County feel about vacation rentals. For his part, Dimitrov said that the benefits they bring to society far outweigh any negatives.

“In my opinion, the positive impact of vacation rentals goes beyond the undeniable financial impact,” Dimitrov said. “It allows my family to stay in Cook County and call this beautiful part of the world home. Our children go to school and participate in sports and other activities. My wife and I work and volunteer in the community. We have made lifelong friends here.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.