Vacation Homes

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LivingRoomRecently I have been showing waterfront homes around San Juan Island to a clients who likes to kayak. As many do, they want a home that can double as a vacation rental and that they can possibly retire to. We have toured four  homes on the northeast side of the island and three on the west side, none of them over 750k.

One listing is a custom built home with tall ceilings, a loft, chef’s kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms. The interior walls are lovely and the
cabinets are flush – as secret compartments.


A path from the deck leads to a prominent point past the little sauna and full-sized hot tub. The neighbor told us one can watch the sun set four months out of the year (although we were there on one of the most damp days this summer!) The two-car garage has a guest unit above which is totally self contained.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Roche Harbor in the middle of our tour – the main spot on the west side of the island.







I decided to stay the night at the Bird Rock in Friday Harbor and had a delicious sushi dinner at the Tops’l Seafood Bar.

As there are properties on Orcas Island I decided to preview a couple of them and I was glad I did as my clients returned on Saturday. This was a working vacation at it’s best other than the fact that being at the height of the season there were not very many places to stay. I stayed at Doe Bay Thursday night (I met many people attending weddings) and the Lodge on Orcas Island Friday and Saturday night which is somewhat akin to a hostel. The host made me feel very comfortable and I felt that his home was my home and especially enjoyed the beautiful aquariums and flower baskets.
My favorite listing was right by Rosario (completely booked for the weekend, by the way). It sits on a sunny high bank and has full access to the marina and beach adjacent to Rosario. The seller lovingly updated the home with imported limestone for the kitchen, stone from California around the fireplace and designed and built the deck to take advantage of the view.

Considering it’s proximity to Rosario I think it would make a great vacation rental.

If you are looking for a vacation rental in the San Juan Islands (I’ve toured San Juan Island, Orcas Island or Lopez Island) a couple of items to note is that some homeowners associations won’t allow what used to be called transient rentals. It is important to check out the CC and R’s (covenants and restrictions). Some people may tell you that despite the CCRs rentals are overlooked, but as a buyer beware.


IceCream2Pre-existing rentals will have track record and will provide you with a history. One rental on the island now is bringing in about forty thousand a year, for example, but it is being sub-platted it will need a new septic system as it shares the septic with the seller.




Here is a link to the page which has the permit application.


If a property does not have a permit it will cost $1000.00 for a provisional permit and $2300.00 for a conditional permit. A rural farm is considered provisional while a residence is considered conditional. This is a one-time fee.



The sun came out while I was on Orcas and I stopped to have an ice cream cone at Moran State Park  and to walk the dogs at north beach.

As I was catching the ferry I noticed this cute taxi and thought what a way to tour homes on Orcas Island!