If the American dream is to own a home, then owning a vacation home may truly be cloud nine. A private retreat to call your own and share with friends and family is indeed an appealing aspiration. If you’re in the position to purchase a vacation home, many wonderful getaways may await you, but there are also several important considerations to make first. Here are four things you’ll want to do before ascending to the rank of vacation-home owner.
1. The location
This advice sounds obvious, but it’s easy to rush into a vacation home purchase before you’re truly familiar with the location you’re buying into. Be sure to visit the area several times before you buy, ideally near your desired property and during the times you plan to stay in the home. Hotels and resorts, short-term home rentals (such as Airbnb) and traditional home rentals are all great ways to get acquainted and make sure you won’t quickly tire of your locale of choice.
2. The whole price tag
As with your primary home, it’s important to understand the full cost of ownership before you buy, including taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance. Don’t forget: rates and required services may be different where your vacation home is located, and you may be footing many of the bills even when you’re not present. Do your research to ensure that the luxury of a dip in your vacation home pool doesn’t put you over your head on expenses.
3. The plan for when you’re not there
You probably have plenty of plans for how to use your vacation home while you’re present, but what about while you’re not? Especially if your visits will be infrequent, you may want someone to manage the property – and possibly someone to rent it from you – when you’re not enjoying the house yourself. These arrangements come with their costs, benefits and risks that will need to be carefully examined.
4. What to expect
There’s a lot to look forward to in a vacation home, but don’t overlook the less glamorous aspects. A house is, of course, not a hotel, and each of your stays will likely need to include some maintenance and upkeep along with your rest and relaxation. Don’t plan on being able to kick back without first rolling up your sleeves from time to time.