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Vacation Homes: Are They Worth It?

If you are like most people, you have probably at least once dreamed of owning a vacation home on your favorite lake, mountain or beach. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to head to your own second home any time you feel like it and spend time enjoying the things you like to do? You need only bring the clothes you will want to wear, because the house is fully stocked and all your toys are already there. This would be the life! Or is it? The results of last week’s readers poll were very interesting. I will let you know what the results were later in this article. 

 

All the years my wife Kristy was growing up, her grandfather had a fishing cabin on a lake in Northern Minnesota. Her dad would take his immediate family, including Kristy’s mom and brothers to the cabin for a week every summer. Sometimes Kristy would even get to bring a friend. The kids would spend the week water skiing, paddling, fishing, and swimming. She has fond memories of the weeks spent there at the cabin.  

 

Although it was just a fishing cabin, small and rustic, it was a special place where many memories were made. Kristy and I even went to the cabin for our honeymoon. Not far from the cabin, just down the shore about a mile, there was a resort. We could see it from the dock, and would go by it while water skiing. It was always busy there and as we watched the people, we would feel sorry for them because they had to stay at the resort while we had our own cabin.  

 

Not long after we were married, it came time that Kristy’s grandmother decided to sell the cabin. Her grandfather had been gone for many years by now, and it was a lot for her grandmother to take care of. Kristy and I thought about buying it for ourselves, but being young, it was financially too much for us to do. It was sad to see the cabin sold and we wanted to continue the summer trips to the lake, so we settled for staying at the resort.  

 

It didn’t take long to notice that staying at the resort wasn’t quite as bad as we had thought. For one, Kristy’s dad didn’t have to spend the week doing maintenance and repairs on the cabin. We didn’t have to mow the lawn, put the dock in, or take it out, winterize in the fall and open in the spring. All of us got to enjoy the entire week without responsibility. This was the first time I realized that owning a vacation home wasn’t what I had dreamed it was. I hadn’t even considered the costs of ownership like property taxes for example. 

 

I have had people try to convince me that owning a vacation home is an investment, but considering expenses like property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, it doesn’t qualify as a true investment. It can be and usually is a drain on your financial plans. Some people do have the income and/or wealth to afford a vacation property and that is wonderful.  

 

People have told me that they can actually earn income to pay for the property by operating it as a rental when they aren’t using it, but there is a lot of expense to this plan as well. You will likely need to hire a local property manager to handle scheduling, maid services between occupancies, maintenance and repairs on the property, and inspections during the off-season. This is a huge responsibility and I have seen people try to manage this themselves when they live hours away and it is a terrible experience. 

 

One other thing about owning a vacation home that people don’t seem to talk about is you are somewhat tied to going to that one place for every vacation. That comes with some conveniences; however, it is hard to justify taking the family to a resort somewhere when you have a vacation home sitting empty.  

 

If you have the means to own your own vacation home(s), I am happy for you. That would be a wonderful position to be in, but for me at least, I am going to enjoy making memories while staying care free at various locations in other people’s properties. It is a great life! 

 

Apparently, the readers of this newsletter agree with me. The results of last week’s poll indicated that 75% would prefer to stay at a VRBO/Airbnb type property and 25% would prefer a to stay at a resort or hotel. I am proud of you all! 

 

Norwalk IA Real Estate – Jon Niemeyer, Broker/Owner/REALTOR® at EXIT Realty North Star. I list and sell real estate in Central Iowa including Norwalk, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Indianola, Carlisle, Waukee, Urbandale, Grimes, Clive, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, and Pleasant Hill in the Counties of Warren, Polk, Dallas, and Madison. Call Jon Niemeyer at 515-490-4675

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