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Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 03:27 PM   #1
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Second Home

My spouse really wants to buy a second home in the mountains nearby. While that appeals to me, the cost of carrying, furnishing and maintaining two homes really turns me off. I am afraid that it would be just one more problem to deal with instead of being a getaway place. She has suggested downsizing to offset the costs but it still would cost more than just owning the one home. Tell me what your experience has been with a second home to help me in this decision.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 03:56 PM   #2
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Re: Second Home

We did exactly that a few years ago. We had an expensive home. we sold. We moved into an apartment in a four unit building we bought. A while later we bought a lake cabin, with the idea it would be a place all to ourselves, with plenty of room to spread out and to have fun.

It is surprising how much time one can spend cleaning two residences. Mowing two lawns. Puttering with the place. There are property taxes, utilities, insurance, etc. Flying squirrel and mice battles. You hate to miss a summer weekend so we didn't visit friends as often as we did before. It was too much money and too much effort for a place we didn't use enough. Maybe it would have been different if we were retired at the time.

We sold it and took the equity and bought a motorhome. Which in some ways seems even worse as it will depreciate. But it turned out to be not the same kind of work nor as much and we have the flexibility to go where we want when we want, rather than just to the cabin.

EDIT: Most of my former partners have lake homes as well as their city homes and they really seem to enjoy the lifestyle. I think they pay people to do a lot of stuff we did ourselves. One even had his lake home torn down and he build a new one in its place. But I am the one who is retired.

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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 04:57 PM   #3
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Re: Second Home

Martha
Thanks for the feedback. That is exactly my concern. Ignoring the additional costs, the headaches of maintaining the property and the feeling that you are obligated to go to use it on most weekends will reduce our enjoyment. We typically go to the an upscale lodge in the mountains twice a year. We get a great suite with a deck with a great mountaintop view and gourmet meals included so it is a real getaway. We could go there two or three more times a year and still save over the costs of owning a second home.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 05:18 PM   #4
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Re: Second Home

Take a large sum of cash, place it in a pile, and light it on fire. Bask in the glow of the warm flames and delight in their flickering colors.

I found an easy way to change my mind about buying another house. I walked around this one with a notepad and pen and jotted down all the **** I need to do around here, then I recalled all the stuff I already did to get the place into the decent shape its in. Then I quit looking for another house.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 05:23 PM   #5
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Re: Second Home

CFB
Taking the pile of money and setting it on fire makes a big impression on me and it hurts!
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 05:46 PM   #6
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Re: Second Home

atla......

DW and I have been going through the same thought process for several years, ever since we hit FI and started to seriously consider RE.

We love it "up nort" and spend several weeks a year in rented lake homes. If money were no object and we could afford to have someone else 100% maintain a lake home for us, we'd buy one in an instant. Unfortunately, while we could fit the purchase of a lake property into our budget, we'd have to take care of it predominantly ourselves. And we've decided that having an extra house to maintain isn't really what we're looking for.

So........for this summer, we still have our reservations for the places we've been renting in past years in northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Ontario. After that, we're researching either finding something to rent for longer periods or buying an RV or both. But, no second home......
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 05:57 PM   #7
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Re: Second Home

Think about the end of your stay in the mountains where you just spent an enjoyable few weeks, months, whatever. You check out, take one last peek at how beautiful it is, and go home looking forward to your next visit.

Now imagine it was your getaway home. Did you remember to turn off the water? Thermostat where you want it? Is it secure? Hope the roof holds if they get thunderstorms. Notice that area of siding that needs repair? Head home. Remember to pay up the insurance, the taxes, and arrange for the guy to plow the driveway (sure hope he shows up). Gotta get to those shrubs next year. Weather gets severe, you'd better make a trip up to be sure you didn't flood. And gosh, we're paying all this money for the place we'd better use it plenty even if, as Martha says, we'd really like to go to that party our good friends are putting on. And forget other vacations -- too expensive considering we already have a vacation home. On and on.

Based on our experience and that of many friends, if you don't have unlimited funds to hire everything out (assuming you can find someone), think long and hard about going that route.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-17-2007, 11:38 PM   #8
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Think about the end of your stay in the mountains where you just spent an enjoyable few weeks, months, whatever. You check out, take one last peek at how beautiful it is, and go home looking forward to your next visit.

Now imagine it was your getaway home. Did you remember to turn off the water? Thermostat where you want it? Is it secure? Hope the roof holds if they get thunderstorms. Notice that area of siding that needs repair? Head home. Remember to pay up the insurance, the taxes, and arrange for the guy to plow the driveway (sure hope he shows up). Gotta get to those shrubs next year. Weather gets severe, you'd better make a trip up to be sure you didn't flood. And gosh, we're paying all this money for the place we'd better use it plenty even if, as Martha says, we'd really like to go to that party our good friends are putting on. And forget other vacations -- too expensive considering we already have a vacation home. On and on.
O.K. you talked me out of it.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 01:30 AM   #9
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Take a large sum of cash, place it in a pile, and light it on fire. Bask in the glow of the warm flames and delight in their flickering colors.

I found an easy way to change my mind about buying another house. I walked around this one with a notepad and pen and jotted down all the **** I need to do around here, then I recalled all the stuff I already did to get the place into the decent shape its in. Then I quit looking for another house.
CFB you already gave up on that other house in the country you just wrote about recently?
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 03:35 AM   #10
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Re: Second Home


I'd say it depends on your family situation. Fifteen years ago my parents bought a lovely mountain place with a lot to mow but more that is mostly forest. My sis's husband does the mowing and chopping and chipping of downed trees. I'm there every month for a couple days and clean and take care of srubs and plants near the house and other stuff. Everybody pitches in. When work needs to be done, Mom and Dad take care of the financials. Workmen try to fit their schedules to mine. You'd find after some time that you make connections with people who can make your life easier. We don't turn any power or water off at any time during the year. We just set the thermostat to 50 year round and use the wood stove when we're there. This is in New England.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 06:26 AM   #11
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRABBY JERRY
CFB you already gave up on that other house in the country you just wrote about recently?
Based on his last post, I would say yes

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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 08:27 AM   #12
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Re: Second Home

This is similar to the old joke about a boat:

what do you call a boat? a hole in the water you throw your money into.

There are plenty of boat owning people who get their money out of it. RV's as well. But there are so many vacant second properties because people just can't get there, RV's sitting in lots and boats on trailers or in slips due to time constraints.

We decided to rent a second place if we wanted. We have been all over the world and all over North America and there is no place I would go and give up going to all the others.
On second thought Byron Bay in Australia but it's a little far for a second home.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 08:47 AM   #13
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRABBY JERRY
CFB you already gave up on that other house in the country you just wrote about recently?
More or less. After reviewing about 100 homes I came to the conclusion that people are still looking for about 20% more for their properties than they're worth, and anything that looks like a good deal has a major problem or two.

I like to buy fairly priced stuff...so i'll wait a while.

We might snoop around my old mcmansion neighborhood. They have excellent schools and its an ultra safe neighborhood with a lot of nice amenities. But we'll sell the place we're in shortly after buying down there if we do it.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 09:01 AM   #14
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile
This is similar to the old joke about a boat:

what do you call a boat? a hole in the water you throw your money into.

There are plenty of boat owning people who get their money out of it. RV's as well. But there are so many vacant second properties because people just can't get there, RV's sitting in lots and boats on trailers or in slips due to time constraints.

We decided to rent a second place if we wanted. We have been all over the world and all over North America and there is no place I would go and give up going to all the others.
On second thought Byron Bay in Australia but it's a little far for a second home.
Everybody has to do what suits them, and really know what that is. I remember in my philosophy or latin class reading a Roman philosopher who said ideally your vacation place should not be far from the city gates. My parents' place is 70 minutes from my house and 95 minutes from theirs. We rarely see the homeowners who come from farther away.

And my parents as they've gotten older still find it easy to drive to their place, but long ago gave up traveling overseas or across country.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 09:34 AM   #15
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by kate
Everybody has to do what suits them, and really know what that is.
I sure agree with that Kate. Unlike OP's hypothesis of owning your own second home, you've found a way to particiapate in the perks of second home ownship but with someone else paying the bills (your parents) and others sharing the chores (siblings). Not an easy situation to construct.

My BIL owned a sailboat and kept it on Lake Michigan in one of the Chicago Park District harbors. He was great about inviting us to spend time sailing with him! We spent a few hours in the spring and in the fall helping him get it out and back into storage. And we always brought food and paid for gas for the aux engine. We were sad when he sold it (too much work and expense) but have never even considered buying one ourselves.

If your parents decided to sell the cabin and your siblings weren't interested, would you buy it solo and take on all the associated expenses and maintenance yourself?
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 10:46 AM   #16
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Re: Second Home

Dh and I had this kind of conversation while we were in FLorida. He dragged me around looking at property for two days. When he had that out of his system and we sat down to talk about it I reminded him of all the "double" bills we would be paying and how he'd spend most of his vacation time down there fixing or upgrading the place. I also told him that if we bought in FL he could forget about any other travel because I wouldn't want to go any where else, I would feel obligated to go just there. It took a day of him thinking about it, the next day we went looking at travel trailers

Vacation homes are nice if they are someone elses.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 01:12 PM   #17
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Re: Second Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet
I sure agree with that Kate. Unlike OP's hypothesis of owning your own second home, you've found a way to particiapate in the perks of second home ownship but with someone else paying the bills (your parents) and others sharing the chores (siblings). Not an easy situation to construct.

My BIL owned a sailboat and kept it on Lake Michigan in one of the Chicago Park District harbors. He was great about inviting us to spend time sailing with him! We spent a few hours in the spring and in the fall helping him get it out and back into storage. And we always brought food and paid for gas for the aux engine. We were sad when he sold it (too much work and expense) but have never even considered buying one ourselves.

If your parents decided to sell the cabin and your siblings weren't interested, would you buy it solo and take on all the associated expenses and maintenance yourself?
My parents were thrilled when I took an interest in it fourteen years after they bought it. It's made things easier for them. The only thing that has ever bothered them is not being there when something happens, and my making monthly trips eased that worry. (I was there for the roof replacement and I was there when the hot water failed, etc......) Money is a total non-issue with my parents. And the property is not going to leave my family for at least the next three generations. Would I buy it in an imaginary world? No. I'd rather be in the Adirondacks. That's where I've spent my time the past decade. They know that. I completely agree and appreciate that sharing the work among many hands makes it best for everyone.

P.S. My parents and one of my parent's siblings bought it together, paid cash, and made it part of estate planning. My parents have never sold property, still living in the house they bought fifty years ago, and never will. It's all in trust.


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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 01:27 PM   #18
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Re: Second Home

My husband and I had a lakehouse for five years while we were still working. We bought it as a second home and intended to make it our retirement home. Our primary residence was in a burb of Dallas and the lakehouse was on a large lake about 60 miles away. We kept both houses for only 2 years. The work of keeping both in good shape was a little to much, plus we wanted to be at the lakehouse more and more. So we sold the primary house in town and moved into a very small apartment near the downtown area. We spent 3 or 4 nights a week in town and the remaining time at the lake. This arrangement kind of helped us "slide" into retirement. We enjoyed urban life on the nights in town, and with no upkeep chores to keep us busy! I think our actual cost of living declined during those three years that we went between an apartment and the lake due to the simplicity of life at the lake.

Unfortunately that simplicity of life at the lake became a little to boring after retirement and we sold the lakehouse a year after retiring. We made a very nice profit from it and now reside in an over 55 community. We are enjoying retired life with only one home.nt

All in all the lakehouse was one of the best decisions we have ever made. We would go the second home again in a heartbeat!
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 02:31 PM   #19
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Re: Second Home

We built a lake front house which completed last year. Currently being rented weekly to offset the costs. Waterfront taxes are ridiculous ... so renting was the only way this'll happen. Being near the ski mts and water front offers dual peak season. BUT the jury is still out, we're in the warmest winter since creation ... that's not helping the rental business.

If you buy it right, it can be a no brainer. In our case I did a 1031 exchange for the land then sat on the lot for a couple years. Mr Market did a nice job of ensuring gains; so building was a no brainer. If I sold tomorrow we'ld almost double our money .... Uncle and state taxes would be hefty (but that's a good problem to have). If renting becomes difficult or it becomes a maintenance hassle I'll slaughter this thing as the hog it is and smile all the way to the bank. Until then we ski in the winter and use the lake in the summer (when it's not rented, of course). 8)

Just treat it as an investment; don't get too attached.
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Re: Second Home
Old 02-18-2007, 04:10 PM   #20
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Re: Second Home

DW and I built a weekend house on the tidal Potomac 14 years ago. We go down a lot during the summer and a bit during the winter. We just got back a couple of hours ago. While we were both working it was great having the place. We would never get away to a rental resort every other weekend and spring, summer and fall. I would not otherwise have been able to windsurf and water ski, both of which brought great enjoyment.

The negative side, is that this place has cost us a bundle of dough over the years. I am not a skilled handyman like a lot of the guys who post here so I have to pay for most of the work around the place (think $30 K for rip rap after the hurricane). Luckily I have a great relationship with an incredibly talented kid (38 now) who lives nearby and takes care of everything we need done.

DW plans to ER in about two years. We talk about reversing the past practice and spending more time at the river during the week after she is retired and spending more weekends in DC. We also feel that we will probably sell the place in 10 years or so unless DS stays in the area, has kids, and makes heavy use for it. We also view it as a nice fall back for funds to blow if the bears prove correct and the market tanks horrendously over the next decade or so. Of course, if the real estate market for waterfront home goes to hell in a hand-basket at the same time -

Bottom line is I would not recommend a second home unless you have a lot of money you can spare for it and are quite sure you will enjoy going there frequently.

On the other hand, it is a great place to while away the hours - even in the winter. Think of sitting in front of a warm fire and gazing out at this:

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