First of all, l am going to admit that I have a bias about second homes. I love to travel, as in LOVE to travel. I enjoy eating different foods, seeing different scenery, and experiencing different customs. Several years ago, when our kids were little, we invested in a property about two hours northwest of Houston. I mentioned the bit about loving to travel, because every weekend that we can sneak away to our “farm”, it feels like a mini-vacation. We go from a very suburban culture, to a very rural culture and just that small geographic distance feels different. The hills are rolling, the air is cooler, the views are more scenic, and the community has a different pace.
Our kids are able to experience the outdoors and have room to run with our crazy dogs at their heels. The ipads, phones, and video games take a back stage to bb guns, four-wheelers, and fishing with their Dad.
Second homes are definitely a commitment. Since you aren’t there all of the time, maintenance can be challenging and it is a little more difficult to take care of the day to day tasks. And…they cost money. That part is obvious, but having two sets of electricity bills, lawn care, exterminating, water, etc can become overwhelming.
Some second homes have the ability to earn income through short-term vacation rentals. Websites such as Airbnb and VRBO make attracting renters easier than ever. It is important to find a local cleaning company to clean the home between renters and secure any personal belongings in a locked closet or cabinet.
Second homes are also a great way to create memories with family and friends. We enjoy the peaceful retreats with just our family, but we always laugh a little more when others are there to liven up the place.
Ideally, a second home would be within a reasonable driving distance. Personally, 2-3 hours is my preferred driving time. Any more time and the kids get restless, too much less and it’s not quite far enough from home.
Focus on areas that have a lots of activities, whether it be boating, beach, country-living, or smack in the middle of downtown. My general take on life is that we only have this one and if it makes financial sense to purchase a second home that your family and friends can enjoy with you, go for it. Many times, they turn out to be solid investments as the market increases over time.