Planning a trip in the next year? Airbnb has released its hottest destinations for 2020—a list of cities, countries, and states across the globe that are seeing the largest year-over-year percentage growth in bookings. Of course there are gems you would expect: Hundreds of miles of palm-lined beaches in Kerala, India (which saw a 95% YOY increase), for instance, or the European cultural hot spot Bilbao, Spain (which saw a 402% YOY increase).
But the very top of the list is, drum roll please . . .
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which grew 729% YOY.
Milwaukee is a wonderful little city! Accessible by train, situated on a river, pouring plenty of beer on tap, it features good pro sports teams and also the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is not only one of the largest museums in the U.S., but an architectural gem with buildings from architectural legends Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava. I took my family to Milwaukee this summer and have been several times over the years. Milwaukee is great!
But even I’m surprised by this development. Milwaukee’s population is currently in decline, and it’s been called one of the slowest-growing big cities in America, likely because housing prices are vastly outstripping wages, though Milwaukee visitation is up.
However, there may be a far simpler reason it’s the fastest-growing city on Airbnb: Legal changes in the state of Wisconsin. In 2017, a new law took effect that protected the right of homeowners to rent their homes on a short-term basis, though local municipalities still control other aspects of rental agreements. Madison, for instance, has an agreement with Airbnb that the company will collect tax on each rental in the city—a program that led to $2.5 million in taxes levied for the city in 2018 and led to an 80% increase in rentals, according to the Capital Times.
So there you have it. The fastest-growing Airbnb destination in the entire world is Milwaukee. Now if people would only realize it’s not just a good place to visit—you can live there too.
Update: A few readers wrote to point out something we, and it appears Airbnb, overlooked. The 2020 Democratic National Convention will take place in Milwaukee, which could account for much of the surge in bookings.