Is a Dream Vacation Home Right for You?

Make sure to Consider Several Key Factors before Buying a Vacation Home

By Mark J. Donovan

To own a vacation lake or mountain home is a dream for many people. A vacation home provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Away from the city and the responsibilities normally found around the primary home. It is also the ultimate in status symbol for those interested in impressing others.

Purchasing a vacation home, however, has its own share of headaches and responsibilities for those fortunate enough to be able to afford one. Besides the financial aspect of paying the property taxes and maintaining it, there are a number of other important factors that should be considered before moving forward and buying a dream vacation home.

Though purchasing a vacation home can be a fantastic experience it is another large responsibility and commitment. Many a vacation home buyer has learned this truth after the fact and end up regretting their decision and selling their home much sooner than they could have ever imagined. When they bought the home they only thought of the benefits, such as a place for their family and friends to relax, swim, ski, fish and/or mountain climb.

Sadly these benefits mask the other realities of owning a vacation home. Realities that include items such as long travel times to the vacation home, maintenance and property taxes associated with it, and responsibilities back at the primary home that could prevent them from being able to fully enjoy their vacation home on a regular basis. For example, children’s various school and sporting events often run over into the weekend. Consequently, the ability to actually go to the vacation home regularly can often be severely limited. All of these factors add stress and complications to owning a vacation home and thus every potential vacation home buyer should consider these items carefully before taking the plunge. Is buying a dream vacation home right for you?

Summarized below is a list of items every potential vacation home buyer should seriously think about prior to moving forward with purchasing one.

Probably the most important consideration when contemplating buying a vacation home is its proximity to the primary residence. Is it a reasonable travel time to get to it such that you can enjoy it as frequently as you desire? For example, purchasing a lake home in New Hampshire and having your primary residence in New Jersey may not be a wise decision if you have visions of going to the lake home a couple of times a month.

Not unless, you have a private jet. Purchasing a vacation home is a huge financial commitment. So unless it is being purchased mainly as an investment tool, make sure it is practical in terms of travel time to it.

Also, make sure to clearly understand that purchasing a home as an investment is risky and not liquid. Home prices can vary widely over time, and expensive vacation homes can take a lot longer to sell than the typical year-round residential home.

Maintaining any home is expensive. Maintaining a vacation home, however, is even more expensive. Unlike a primary residence you’re not there enough to be able to fix and maintain it yourself, and nor do you feel like doing so when you are there.

New Home Construction Bid Sheet

Consequently you need to hire local contractors to do much of the repairs and upkeep. Also, contractors in vacation areas have a tendency to charge high prices for their services when it comes to vacation homeowners. Similarly town officials love to hit vacation homes hard when it comes to property taxes. They figure if you can afford to own a vacation home, then you can afford to pay a lot more in property taxes. So be prepared for high maintenance and property tax costs when buying a vacation home.

Another important consideration is your weekend responsibilities back at the primary house. If you have children who are active in after-school or weekend activities you may find yourself not going to the vacation house as often as you’d like, unless you’re willing to pull the children from those activities. Pulling children from their routine activities at the primary residence can often lead to internal strife with them and your spouse, not to mention coaches and teammates.

The subject of guests at a vacation home is another consideration. Having guests come to your vacation home is a double edge sword. Yes, it’s great to have them visit, however it’s added responsibility to you and your own family.

Often when guests come to your vacation home for the weekend, or for some extended period of time, you find yourself acting as their servants. This can be exhausting and not what you imagined. It can also get expensive having to provide the extra food and amenities while your guests are visiting.

To conclude, purchasing and owing a vacation home can be a great experience, both as an investment tool and for personal use. However, like owning any home, purchasing a vacation home brings added responsibilities and complications to a family’s life. After the initial euphoria associated with the purchase wears off, often first time vacation home buyers go through an adjustment period of coming to terms with the issues described above. And for those that don’t come to terms, they end up selling the home much sooner than they could have ever imagined. For those that do stick it out, and can get through the adjustment period of owing a dream vacation home, they typically end up holding onto the home for years and even decades. In many cases, they end up passing it onto their children. So make sure to go into purchasing a vacation home with your eyes wide open so that you to can be happy for the long term with your purchase.

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