Home Buying

What to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home

Don't overlook these factors.

Most Americans don’t get enough vacation time, and studies show too few can have negative consequences on health and happiness. One way to ensure you have enough R&R time is to invest in a vacation property. Living by the beach or deep in the mountain sounds like a dream come true, but it’s not without challenges. Here are a few factors to consider before taking the plunge.

Location

Your vacation home could be immaculate inside, but if it’s around the corner from your actual home, it won’t feel like much of a getaway. Conversely, while a home in Southeast Asia sounds like an adventure, a transcontinental flight for your family might not be in the budget. Because vacation homes are a huge investment, it’s important to find a home located within a manageable distance from where you actually live.

Budget

Vacation homes can be a major expense. In addition to paying a mortgage, you may have to make off-season visits to prepare the home for various weather conditions and maintenance. If your home belongs to an HOA, that could be another set of monthly fees to keep in mind. Other costs to budget for include utilities, homeowner’s insurance, travel costs, and tax.

Rent

If you already know when you plan to stay in your vacation home ahead of time, renting out your home is something you may want to consider. While renting is a potential investment opportunity, it’s important to understand the responsibilities of being someone else’s landlord. Landlords have to ensure their homes are up to code, utilities function correctly, and tenants pay their rent on time. This scenario may not be ideal for someone whose goal is only to relax.

Lifestyle

Your second home should be a reflection of you and your lifestyle. If you plan to have older people staying with you in your home, it’s probably unwise to buy a property with too many stairs or on an uneven terrain. In addition, your vacation home should feature amenities you might not consider in a normal residence. For example: a bike rack for beach cruisers, an outdoor shower to rinse off after a long day, or a mud room for dirty hiking gear. Make sure to prioritize the amenities that will make your time enjoyable instead of stressful.

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Raquel Guarino

Raquel Guarino is a writer for Realty.com and Help.com. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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