Do You Want to Own a Vacation Home?

In a random conversation a few days ago, I realized that I have absolutely no interest in owning a vacation home.

A few reasons came to mind right away, some kind of unique to me, and some more general:

  • Vacations aren’t important to me, as I do what I love for a living. At any given time, there are few things I’d rather do than work, and vacations aren’t one of those things.
  • For me–and perhaps for others–the types of things I’d do on vacation are things I can just as easily do within a half-mile radius of my own home. I would play board games and maybe some lawn games, take a nap whenever I want to, perhaps go a little crazy and partake in a hard root beer. I could literally do any of those things within 10 minutes of this moment if I wanted to.
  • There’s a lot of upkeep! I barely want to clean my own home, much less take care of a second property.
  • They seem expensive. I’m sure the price varies based on location, but it’s almost certainly higher than $0, plus the expense of actually getting there.

To be fair, here are a few reasons I can think of why people might want to have vacation homes:

  • For people who love vacations, having a place they know they can always go to probably feels pretty great. It’s a physical manifestation of “not work.”
  • If you gain fulfillment and happiness by hosting people, having a vacation home might be a great fit. For several years, I spent a weekend each summer at a friend’s parent’s lake house. The parents and the friends really seemed to enjoy hosting people at their home, and they made it a wonderful experience for us. That’s where the photos in this post were taken.
  • It has the potential to be an investment property if you rent it out to others or eventually sell it for more than it’s worth.
  • Perhaps it’s nice to have a group of regular “vacation friends” who are completely different than your normal friends.

So while they’re not for me, I can understand the appeal for some people. What’s your perspective? Do you own a vacation home or hope to own one someday? Why or why not?

9 thoughts on “Do You Want to Own a Vacation Home?”

  1. I would love to have access to one, but not have to own it. My grandparents maintained 3 homes. I spent a significant part of my childhood summers at the Montana lake house – 25 acres of lakefront and woods. It had a main 2/2 house, and two 2/1 guest cabins along with a party house and a boat house. It was phenomenal for entertaining in the summer. However, it was not winterized, and you have to pay a caretaker to maintain it when you’re gone. While I have amazing memories from that place and get homesick for it from time to time, I cannot imagine having to find someone to handle the groundskeeping let alone care for the vehicles and make sure pipes don’t burst in the winter. Plus deal with bears, deer, snakes, and mosquitoes – oiling the roads, etc. All that for me being able to go there maybe a couple of weeks a year? That would also cause me to have to find someone to watch my house and dogs. With the dog rescue that I do, it’s no cheap or simple thing.

    The Arizona house was nice for Thanksgivings because we got to go swimming in November. At least it didn’t need special care for winter or summer, but the place still needed maintaining.

    I never went to their Minnesota home, but saw photos. That place, albeit the fanciest, needed upkeep too. Maybe if I won the powerball…

    • “I would love to have access to one, but not have to own it.” I think that sums up my desired approach perfectly too. 🙂

  2. It’s funny that my girlfriend, Ping, and I were just discussing this very thing, while we’re on vacation in Europe. There was definitely a time when that option seemed attractive to me but as time went on, the idea of the additional expense, coupled with what do you do with the place when you’re not in vacation seemed more trouble than it’s worth. Now, with the advent of AirBnB, you can stay almost anywhere in the world for quite a duration for about 1/4 to a 1/3 what you would spend at a hotel. Now, I can vacation anywhere and leave the keys…and the maintenance behind.

  3. We oscillate back and forth on this one. For a few years, my mother owned a place on the Outer Banks while she lived in Richmond. This was fantastic as I too loved having a place to visit that required no upkeep on my part. If she’d owned it 10 years later and had been looking to sell now instead of when I was in my late 20s, we might have bought it.

    There are many other places to which I’d love to return, but we love to explore too much! I don’t think we could settle on one place. Rather, we dream of someday owning an RV, at least for a few years after retirement, to live the explorers life for a while.

    Also, in some ways, owning a tent is a version of owning a vacation home, and I do have one of those! I’m planning to spend months at a time in it someday, but for now, I’ll settle for the occasional multi-day hike.

    Like others, I think my best case scenario for a true vacation property would be that one day a family member or close friend would own one that we could visit frequently.

    • That’s an interesting point about the RV. It seems like that would be less to maintain than a vacation home, and you could keep it at your house when you’re not on vacation (opposed to having to travel elsewhere or hire someone to maintain a distant vacation home).

  4. That’s IF you have property where you can keep an RV. We’d have bought a small fishing boat by now if we didn’t have to pay to store it somewhere. I’m firmly against long-term storage lockers for the same reason – you could buy all that stuff again new for less than the cost of storing it over the years.

  5. My wife and I have seriously considered a vacation property a few times. Particularly on Madeline Island, which is in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The two reasons we have decided not to do it are:
    1) The cost: You can rent a house or cabin for reasonable rates through AirBNB or VRBO, without the upkeep and stress of having a property to maintain.
    2) The variety: If you own a vacation property, you feel like you need to go there a lot to make it worthwhile. That means we can’t go somewhere different. We like variety in our vacations. If we aren’t tied to a specific place, we can go anywhere we want to go, instead of always going back to the same place.


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