Posted by Tim Stobbs on June 29, 2011
It’s officially summer here now with the forecast high finally into the 30+ range right before the July long weekend. So now a lot of people start heading out to their cottages/cabins more often and their guests start to think: I could get used to this and vacation property lust starts to kick in.
Despite the initial reaction to the contrary I do get vacation property lust myself once in a while. My parents have had a cabin now for about a decade so I’ve been very familiar with the lifestyle and even I have to admit there is something about the place that is just relaxing to be at.
Yet what is is really like to own a second property? Well to be honest from what I’ve seen it is a bit of pain in the ass if you already have a house to look after. Maintaining two sets of yards sucks when you have a short summer already, you will likely have a little trouble remembering what is in each fridge, you will wash a lot of sheets if you have guests, and you can bet your insurance bill just got a lot higher with another property. Yet is it worth it?
The answer strangely enough can be: yes. You just have to accept up front that a second property will not be an investment, but rather a decision purely based on what makes you happy. Just don’t have any delusions about the decision being a financially smart one. Unless you have a huge annual vacation budget already and are willing to give up almost all other travel, you are likely not to break even. Also your ongoing costs will likely be substantial so your retirement plans will also likely take a setback if you choose to have that vacation property.
Yet a second property doesn’t have to be so bad with a little careful planning. I’m familiar with one family that recent got a little lot in a wooded valley just 15 minutes from their house. The yard does not have a lawn to maintain and it is just big enough to have a trailer on the site. So their total investment is a mere $60 to $80K to have a place they can visit every single weekend in the summer if they want. It is somewhat of an odd setup, but it does keep their costs down and keeps in mind the big issue of having a cottage is making sure it is close so you use it.
So if you really want that vacation property, go ahead and look at your options. I would caution that you should interview several existing vacation property owners prior to buying to make sure you know what you are getting into. Do you have a cottage or cabin? If so, it it worth it? If not, do you want one?