I spent many weekends and lots of summers in my family's second home in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. It was a quiet alternative to the bustling, pulsating beat of New York City. Back in the 80's, it was a sleepy town, with only two grocery stores and two churches. I haven't been there in almost 20 years and I'm sure much has changed. For me it was the best place ever.
Photo by Tracy Karges
That's exactly what you should look for in your vacation home. The hard part is defining what and where this is. When you decide on a second home, you're not just committing for now, you're committing for the future. This purchase is not only for you, but for your spouse and possibly your children. Here are the three most important things you want to consider from a vacation home:
Where do you want to vacation?
Some of us like the mountains, others like the beach, and still others like the quiet dignity of the desert. It depends on what gives you the optimal peace. Don't feel pressured to decide on one location immediately. Travel to different places and settle on which one is best for you. You may be surprised that you really don't like spending that much time at the beach, after all.
Can you afford it?
This is a big one for me! Especially in the current housing market, it's important to run the numbers and make sure it's a solvent move. Putting hundreds of thousands into a house that you can't afford isn't the best use of your hard-earned money. On the other hand, if you can afford it, go for it! Research the prices of similar homes in the area to make sure you're getting a deal.
How much will you use it?
If you live in Maine, and your vacation home is in Guam, you're not likely to use it every month. Of course it's important to get a vacation home in the location you love, but you also want to factor in the cost of traveling back and forth. Consider getting a vacation home that's relatively close (a day trip by car) to your home. This will take away the need to purchase expensive plane tickets for you and your family when you're ready to get away.
This is what I look for when I am shopping for a vacation home. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!