Holiday lets: how much can you make?

Considering investing in a holiday let, but not sure if it’s the right path for you? Find out more about the people that have done it already and are reaping the financial rewards.

Holiday lets have a key tax advantage over traditional buy-to-let investments.

We’ve explored how to go about getting a mortgage for one, how it could fund your dream home and found out the things you need to consider before investing.

But what’s it like to actually run a holiday home business?

We spoke to two people who have changed their careers to become holiday home owners using Sykes Cottages, to find out.

‘I quit my job and made £68,000 in two years’

Helen Shaw ran popular shoe shop ‘Helen Bateman’, in Edinburgh for 17 years, before deciding it was time for a change. 

Just before her 50th birthday she started thinking of alternative career routes and where she could put her skills in customer services and retail to good use.

After closing her store in 2015, she decided on holiday letting as her next venture. Particularly because she could use her creativity.

Helen Shaw sitting outside her holiday let, the 'Stables House'

Using the funds from her previous business, she renovated an empty property on her land and designed the entire interior layout herself.

The complete refurbishment of the stable house meant installing central heating and new carpets, carrying out major repair work and sourcing all furniture, and took Helen and her husband twelve weeks to complete.

Since joining Sykes in 2015, they’ve secured 128 bookings, generating a total revenue of £68,000.

 “For those looking to make the most money from holiday lettings, my advice is to keep up communication. Having worked in my own shop, I know that making the effort with people is so important. Before guests arrive, I get in touch and I check-in with them during their stay to make sure everything is as expected,” Shaw told loveMONEY.

“It’s also important to make the right investment choices for your property – owning a holiday let has been the perfect decision for us. I’ve now got a heathy income and better lifestyle, without the office routine.

“We’ve been able to earn a lot so far, and from not doing a lot it feels like. We’re keen to grow our earnings by adding extras, for example the Stables House attracts a lot of family groups, so we recently installed a swing set and play area which children absolutely love! It’s helped boost bookings even further.”

Inside Helen Shaw's holiday home located in Duns, Scottish Borders

‘I wanted a lucrative stress-free venture after retiring’

Pauline Fuller previously owned her own business, but after retiring she decided she wanted to try something new, rather than putting her feet up entirely.

She wanted a new challenge, but without the usual pressures of having to employ staff or manage cashflows. 

Pauline had a double garage in the grounds of her home which was converted into a living space for her two grown-up daughters to stay from time to time. It had been gradually refurbished and was the perfect size for a holiday let.

Having done a bit of private and commercial letting before, she decided to take the plunge.

Refurbishing the property cost approximately £19,500 and Pauline and her husband spent almost four months getting it guest-ready. They also decided to split their garden with the property, so visitors had their own outdoor space.

Since the Pump House went live online in July 2016, she’s so far secured 69 bookings and generated £31,900 in revenue. 

It’s been so successful, Pauline and her husband are now considering setting up a log cabin or shepherd’s hut within the grounds, as well as granting guests access to a nearly completed indoor swimming pool.

Pauline Fuller's holiday let 'Pump House' near Hailsham in East Sussex

Fuller told loveMONEY: “Having just retired I didn’t want a full-time project but wasn’t ready to slow down just yet. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about setting up a holiday let. I didn’t know how much money we’d make and if it was going to be intrusive to have people stay so close, but it’s been the complete opposite! I’ve enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – even cleaning the house every Saturday is fun.

“It’s been exactly the business venture I was after – and the income from bookings has been so handy that we’re now thinking of starting another. Bookings came through on the same evening the property went live and so we’ve had a steady stream of money coming through.

“I’ve been able to meet so many people and their pets. My advice to anyone thinking of investing and becoming a holiday let owner is to go for it. Be savvy when spending money, furniture and features for the property need to be practical and easy to clean – we have so many people visiting with dogs that we wanted the house to be pet-friendly territory.”

Sykes Cottages is an award-winning holiday letting agent with over 25 years' experience in the industry. Visit or call 01244 617683 for more information.

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