Over the years, we’ve toyed with the idea of owning a vacation home. When I was a kid, I always envied families with a lake house, and even as an adult I’ve been drawn to the idea.
As time has worn on, however, we’ve cooled on the idea. It’s funny, but now that we’re in a position to actually make that old dream a reality, it just doesn’t seem like a very good idea.
Cost of ownership
For starters, owning a second home can be a huge money pit. After all, you have to furnish it, pay taxes on it, insure it, pay for any repairs or maintenance issues that might crop up, buy a boat to tie to your dock, and so on.
And yes, I know… Many people view their vacation properties as an investment. At the same time, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of those with a second home are losing money on it.
The simple truth is that, unless you rent it out, you’re not likely to see much return on your investment. And if you do rent it out, then your desire to own a relaxing vacation property will have transformed you into a landlord.
Another problem is the amount of work that comes along with owning a second home. There’s grass to be cut, walls to be painted, and so forth. Before you know it, your formerly relaxing weekends will be spent maintaining not one, but two homes.
Freedom to travel
I’m also not crazy about is the idea of being tied down to one primary location for all (or most) of our vacations. While we love going to the beach, we also like variety. Sometimes we head to a lake, sometimes we go to the ocean, and we definitely like checking out new places.
If we had a vacation home, we’d feel obligated to make use of it, which brings us to my final point…
Guilt and regret
Finally, I’m not crazy about the feelings of guilt that would inevitably come from not using it enough. This is partly related to freedom to travel point, but it goes beyond that. If, for example, we decided to have a lazy weekend at home, I suspect we’d wind up feeling like we should be using our vacation home instead.
At the same time, if we were intent on renting it out to help offset the cost of ownership, we’d probably wind up feeling guilty if we used it during the high season. After all, that’s exactly when someone is most likely to want to rent it. We thus might wind up using it primarily during the least attractive times, and regretting that we couldn’t spend the days/weeks there.
The final analysis
Ultimately, we’ve moved from the “wish we had one” to the “no thanks” category when it comes to owning a vacation home. This isn’t to say that we won’t change our minds sometime down the road but, as things currently stand, we’re perfectly happy renting our fun.