Tips for Finding the Right Vacation Home

This week we have the honor of hearing from Jim McKinley! Jim has a grand background in banking and is here to expand on purchasing a vacation home. Read below to get your Tips for Finding the Right Vacation Home!


Many retirees dream of owning a vacation home, but the decision can be difficult. There are many choices and concerns about affordability, upkeep, and potential resale. Some retirees want to keep a connection with their home base and only visit the vacation home during the winters, while others want a place to visit throughout the year. Whatever your needs, navigating the vacation home-buying process can be much easier if you start with a plan and consider all that is involved in second-home ownership.

Planning so you can realize a vacation home dream

Real estate purchases are important decisions. A bad investment can affect you for years, and if you ultimately do not like the destination, you can be stuck with an expensive mistake. So before you get swept up in the excitement of buying a vacation home, explore all of your options by creating a vacation home plan.  This plan should factor your budget and travel goals. Consider how you will get to your destination. Will you have to fly? If so, is the location close to a major airport?  Overall expense will be a main factor for your purchase decision. Research listings and get a feel for the real estate market in the area.

Start the process early

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Test the waters by visiting a few destinations and start the planning early. Although you may be excited to start your vacation home life, resist the temptation to jump into the decision. Gather  as much information as you can about the local area. See if there is enough to see and do to provide for years of fun. Starting early will also give you the opportunity to find the best deals.

Basic maintenance and upkeep strategies

Maintenance and upkeep are often afterthoughts in the vacation home-buying process, while they should be primary considerations. Maintenance can be expensive, especially if you are managing maintenance from a distance. If you are hundreds of miles away, you will need to develop a good relationship with a handyman or property management firm. Some properties require more upkeep than others, such as those with pools. Ask the seller for a breakdown of maintenance carrying costs and a list of the vendors they use for different upkeep services.

Rein in expenses

Although you can use the seller’s list of maintenance services as a starting point, reach out to competitors for a quote. Be cautious as cheaper is not always better, but if you can get adequate services for a lower rate, you can help lower your monthly expenses dramatically. Other areas for reducing costs include insurance and utilities. When you obtain your insurance policy, ask about discounts. See if there are modifications you can make to the property to reduce your premium. Companies often provide discounts for those who have alarm systems, for example.

Utility expenses can be reduced by upgrading appliances to more energy-efficient models and by replacing light bulbs with LEDs. LED bulbs require a small upfront investment (you can get an 8-pack of 60-watt bulbs for under $10), but their reduced energy consumption and long life more than pay for themselves over a short period of time.

A mortgage is a costly expense, but renting out your home can help pay it off. In addition to maintenance services, you should hire a cleaning crew so that the home stays attractive to renters. Make sure you have your home deep cleaned before renters arrive. If your vacation home is in Lacey, you will likely pay between $108 and $195 for a maid service.

Make your vacation home your destination for retirement living

If you are in your retirement years, your vacation home can be a viable retirement home option as well. Make this possibility part of your vacation home planning. Many people are buying vacation homes before they retire with an eye toward living there full-time once they retire.

A vacation home is a big purchase and as such should be planned carefully. Use all your available resources and fully assess your needs before committing to buying a home. If you find the right vacation home, it can become your full-time residence during retirement, so make sure you fall in love with the home and area before taking the plunge.