Top 10 STR-Friendly Communities in the Poconos

Mention HOA and many people think of cumbersome regulations, restrictive committees and added expenses. Here in the Poconos, we have our share of these, but we also have many communities which were built as vacation/resort communities and the HOA serve to bring attractive amenities and a pleasant vacation experience for homeowners and guests. As a real estate agent to helps people find vacation rental investments in the Poconos, I believe the benefits of being in a vacation community outweigh those of being outside one (off the grid).

Rules and regulations in the vacation communities do shift over time. Like ocean tides, there seem to be periods of rising restrictions and fees in some places and there are times in which rules, regulations and fees will decrease. This is driven by HOA boards who see turnover in their boards, often driven by activism from either side (full-time residents vs. owners who rent). There is an old saying that people get involved in community politics for one of two reasons – self interest and revenge. We see this affecting STR rental policies and thus the analogy to ocean tides. If you are looking for an investment in real estate, the Poconos presents some nice long-term opportunities and our region has a wealth of opportunities.

A while back, a Pocono STR entrepreneur put forward a list of his 10 Best Pocono PA HOAs to Look at for Short Term Rental that I think is good reading. He captured the essence of what people should be looking for when they consider investing in vacation communities.

To update and put my buyer’s agent perspective on things, here is my list of Top 10 STR-Friendly Communities in the Poconos. Tobyhanna Township recently imposed a cap on the number of short term rentals licenses and due to the uncertainties surrounding license issuance, caution is advised when purchasing in Tobyhanna Township and I have revised the Top 10 accordingly. It should be noted that this is the opinion of a real estate agent who is compensated in the sale of homes. This is my opinion and an unscientific tally of my clients’ reactions to homes, community amenities, HOA rules and township licensing. It is also biased toward Monroe and Carbon Counties where I primarily operate so it doesn’t include the very nice and desirable Lake Wallenpaupack area and the Northern Poconos. Through no scientific method, here is a list of my list of top places for Pocono Vacation Rental Investments:
NOTE: Tobyhanna Township recently imposed a cap on the number of short term rentals licenses and due to the uncertainties surrounding license issuance, caution is advised when purchasing in Tobyhanna Township. I have revised the Top 10 accordingly.

Honorable Mention

A Pocono Country Place
Laurelwoods II
Northridge at Camelback
Stillwater Lake Civic Association

#10 – Brier Crest Woods

Located between the popular Lake Harmony area and Pocono Raceway, but in a world of its own, Brier Crest Woods is a modest community with a nice mix of vacation homes and full-time residents. The community is very walkable, has a small lake with a beach and boat launch and seems a pleasant place to get away. The community sits in Tunkhannock Township which seems reasonable with its STR regulations. All renters and vehicles must be registered with the BCW Office. Fees vary on the length of stay and are modest. A survey was circulated in Spring 2023 asking homeowners if they were interested in exploring a cap on the number of rentals permitted by the HOA; the answer was NO.

#9 – Indian Mountain Lake

Indian Mountain Lake is a gated community that spans two counties and three townships. The HOA allows Short-term Rentals, but each township has its own rules, so properties in Penn Forest Township and Tunkhannock can rent, but those in Chestnuthill Township cannot. About 1,800 of the 2,200 homes can be run as STR, several hundred currently have rental licenses. Each Short-term rental must be registered with the Civic Association office (HOA) and a reasonable administrative fee needs to be paid. Indian Mountain Lake has a few small, interconnected lakes and several pools and they recently began to allow golf-carts on their private roads.

#8 – Split Rock

A subdivision in Kidder Township, the homes in Split Rock are adjacent to the Split Rock Resort which has two hotels, time shares, restaurants a water park and more. There is an independent Split Rock Golf Course also in the community. Guests can purchase a $25/day guest pass from the resort to use the pools, tennis courts and amenities that are free to resort guests.

#7 – Penn Estates

There are over 1750 properties in the gated community of Penn Estates, less than 100 are registered as STR properties. The community has central water and sewer and allows swimming pools in backyards. It is close to both Camelback and Shawnee giving it good winter rental opportunities Guest and vehicle registration fees are modest and there are a couple of small lakes and a community pool for amenities. A small section of 31 homes are located in Pocono Township which does not allow STR in residential neighborhoods.

#6 – Emerald Lakes section in Tunkhannock Township

Emerald Lakes in a community with nice amenities including a beach area, indoor pool, community center with scheduled activities. Community is very close to the Kalahari Resort and not far from Camelback, so occupancy of 70% here is not unreasonable. The community has a lot of suburban-style homes, nice sized lots, garages, etc. Fees for owners who rent are a bit high, and guest fees for the indoor pool and amenities are also high, but it is one of only a few that has an indoor pool. Pools are allowed in backyards as well. See vacation rentals in Long Pond

#5 – Towamensing Trails

As one of the larger communities in the area, Towamensing Trails features a 190-acre lake, a community center with game room, an outdoor pool, beach area and “marina” for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. There are approximately 3,000 homes in this community and about 25% are full-time residences. Vacation renters have some restrictions that property owners don’t, which can be frustrating for guests. There have been efforts to cap the number of rentals adding to some tensions in the community. Overall, Towamensing Trails and Penn Forest Township run at a low budget and fees and taxes here are lower than just about everywhere else.

#4 – Pocono Farms and Country Club

Pocono Farms and Country Club is an amenity rich community with a lake, clubhouse, boat rentals, pools and more. Pocono Farms is one of the only communities in the region to have its own public golf course and a full-service restaurant. There is no annual fee for owners to rent, but each rental must be registered and pay a $150 fee which gives guests a pass for the amenities and the restaurant which is not open to the public. The Member Services Department of the association provides support for Short-Term Rentals in Pocono Farms and is very professional.

#3 – Arrowhead Lake, Section in Coolbaugh Township

As one of the area’s most recognized vacation home communities, Arrowhead Lake has a rich tradition of vacation rentals. Golf cart friendly, this gated community feels like a resort with its nice amenities including multiple pools and beaches. There are roughly 2,500 homes and 800 undeveloped lots and there has been a lot of building and upgrading going on here. Roughly 20-25% of the homes in Arrowhead are occupied by full-time residents, the vast majority of are vacation homes and the number of rentals in the community is rising. Yes, the fees at Arrowhead are high and that has prompted some activism from owners who rent. Arrowhead is a bit far from winter resorts so occupancy above 50% is less common from those that don’t invest in individual property amenities.

#2 – Big Bass Lake

A gated community with a rich tradition of vacation homes, Big Bass Lake has several lakes, beachfronts, and nice amenities. Their website states it is a resort community, and it seems this way. Big Bass Lake is located midway between Camelback and Montage Mountain in Scranton, each about a 40-minute drive so winter business is possible, but not that likely. This seems to be reflected in home prices and you seem to get more home for the dollar here. The community is active and does well with rentals in the summer. The Community Association (HOA) does require STR permits and guests are to be registered, the fees are modest when compared to other communities. See Vacation Rentals in Gouldsboro a.k.a Big Bass Lake

#1 – Lake Harmony Estates

Lake Harmony Estates is a community located between Big Boulder Ski Resort and Lake Harmony, next to the Split Rock Resort. Lake Harmony Estates has a HOA that allows for STR and provides passes for community amenities which include walking trails and lakeside access points. Rental guests do not have to be registered, there is an annual permit ($500) for homeowners in Lake Harmony Estates who run STRs. Homes in Lake Harmony Estates are on the same sewer system that serves most of the Split Rock and homes that border Lake Harmony in Kidder Township where something like 70% of the homes are vacation homes or vacation rentals.

Some additional notes: This list above factors in many visits and home showings and informally notes things like look and feel. I am looking at this from a vacation home perspective, not short-term rentals for business or an alternative to travel hotels so communities with no amenities did not make my list. I also looked at the vacation home being the destination, with only a little influence on proximity to attractions. Read my post – what brings People to the Poconos http: for more insight on this. Walkability, the overall condition of homes in the community and the resort-like feel are important. The long-term outlook for this community to retain its character as a vacation community and not turn into a residential community also weighed in my thinking. Another factor has been new construction and rehab activity observed in the community and competition.

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July 03, 2023

Some communities are more friendly to VRBO and Airbnb, others oppose the practice.  Here is an summary drawn from various HOAs (Home Owner Associations) and township regulations. Last Updated: July, 2024 ARROWHEAD LAKE (Coolbaugh Township and Tobyhanna Township, PA) As one of the area’s most recognized vacation home communities, Arrowhead Lake has a rich traditionContinue reading "Short-term Rental Friendly Pocono Communities"

The post Short-term Rental Friendly Pocono Communities appeared first on Pocono Vacation Home Sales & Short-term Rental.

March 01, 2022

Zoning, Rules and Regulations regarding Short-term Rentals, VRBO and AirBnB are changing in the Poconos, here is a scorecard of municipalities and what they say about running a short-term rental from your vacation home or income property.

The post STR Municipal Scorecard: Rules on Short-term Rentals in Boroughs and Townships in Poconos appeared first on Pocono Vacation Home Sales & Short-term Rental.