Let’s Buy a Vacation House

Yes, it’s that time of year when we retreat to our favorite happy places. Maybe it’s the woods, lake, river, beach, or couch, no matter - we all have our retreats. Which makes us think, ”How I can spend the rest of my life here?” Rarely do I receive a questionnaire back from a client that doesn’t have a goal of a vacation property for some day in their future plans.

This is a great goal and one that I even think about for myself. Every time I travel, I think, “If I could just move here, I’d have no problems.” This is a great thought, but it’s easy to confuse location with time away from responsibility. Before setting your heart on the most expensive beach town, and then feeling discouraged when you see home prices; think about what you want to do first, and then let that drive your location. This will open up much more geography, and more opportunities to find attractive prices.

What activities do you intend to do? For example, I like to read, and it turns out I can do that anywhere. Maybe a book store and coffee shop are important. Fortunately, they are in every town in the country. I have a wide array of interests like skiing, biking, running, fishing, cooking, and so on. I could even subdivide those activities if I wanted to. We all think about beach towns but it’s hard to ski at the beach. So perhaps a beach adjacent town with access to mountains, lakes, and rivers is more interesting. A short drive to the beach may be all you need.

Climate is another factor. Most folks can’t wait to escape the cold and icy winters of the Northeast and head for warmer weather. The summers, however, are hard to leave. Head to the far south and then the summers become unbearable. Perhaps, it may be nice to avoid the crowded coasts of Florida and look in the South and Mid-Atlantic region where you still have seasons and more mild climates. Call me crazy but if you are willing to go off the beaten path, you may be able to find two vacation homes! Summers in the mountains or near lakes are fantastic in the Northeast and winters in the Southwest are a great escape. Both are much less expensive than coastal towns and still are full of activity.

It’s fun to dream about the parties in the Hamptons, the leisure of Charleston, or the mansions in South Florida. What most people are looking for though is time to enjoy what they want. If you focus only on location, you may work for something that you may never achieve or really be happy with. Why spend all your money on a home you can never get to? A lot of folks tell me they want to buy it now and rent it out. I then ask why they would want such an inconvenient rental property? It may be better to buy an investment property close to home with better returns and easier management.

Open your search to what you enjoy doing. Small mountain or river towns may be exactly what you’re dreaming of and come with lower price tags and lower cost of living. Working with your financial advisor will help do the math on these projects. How you will fill your days once you get there is an inside job only you can do. So, before you leave your happy place this summer, ask yourself what brought you the most enjoyment about that place.

Happy investing.