8 Reasons Renting a Vacation Home is Better than Buying

January 17, 2014 · 4 comments

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Vacation homes are great!  For many families and individuals, purchasing a vacation property is the realization of a lifelong dream. Few things are more rewarding than kicking back in your own personal slice of heaven with friends and family in an area you hold near and dear to your heart.

Unfortunately, most families are unable to afford the “lifestyle” associated with owning a second home.

Whether your dream is to own a lakeside cabin in Maine, or a ski house in Colorado, here are 8 reasons why renting a vacation property may be a better option for you.

Flexibility: Unless you are fortunate enough to vacation whenever you wish, owning your own vacation home can restrict you to vacationing in the same area year after year.  If you are truly in love with a particular area this may not be a problem. 

No Maintenance: The repair costs associated with a vacation home can be expensive.  Repair and maintenance costs in “vacation” hot spots are typically higher than what you might pay in other areas.

No Association Fees: Depending on where you buy a vacation property, you may be required to pay an extraordinary amount of money in monthly or annual condo fees and other related expenses. This is especially true if the vacation property is part of a complex that offers additional amenities such as indoor/outdoor pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, etc. One property I was researching in in Newry, ME (at the Sunday Mountain Ski Resort) has a large outdoor heated pool that is open in the winter. I’m told that the assessment alone on operating the pool is over $100 a month for condo owners in this association.

No Taxes: If you only spend a couple weeks a year at your vacation home, you could easily end up paying more in property taxes alone over what it would cost you to rent a similar home for the same amount of time.

No Cleaning: When you rent a vacation property, the home will most likely have been cleaned, the beds will have been made with fresh linens, and basic necessities (toilet paper, towels, soap,etc.) will have been restocked.

No Yard Work: The last thing most people want to do when they arrive at their vacation home is to mow the lawn, clean up falling leaves and branches, or repair a broken fence.  These issues will be of no concern to you when you rent your vacation property.

Less Financial Commitment:  You might be surprised what you can rent for $1000 t0 $1500 a week in many areas around the country.  Buying a vacation home will usually require a large down payment, low debt to income ratios (DTI), and a huge cash reserve. 

Less Liability:  When you rent a vacation home, you are less liable if the neighbor’s kids come over to play and hurt themselves on the property.

No Surprises:  When you own your own vacation home, you never know what you will find when you visit the property for the first time in a couple months.  You may find that a water line has leaked, the roof failed, or the HVAC system is broken.  You can pay thousands extra for a professional care taker to watch after your property while you’re not there, or you can take that same money and rent a vacation home instead.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys maintaining a second home while your on vacation, or you have the financial means to pay for additional help to help you fully enjoy your vacation property, owning a second home may be for you.

If you have dreamed about owning a vacation property, but do not thing you have the time or money to make it happen, I encourage you to look into the advantages of renting.

Great Resources for Finding Rental Properties:

www.cyberrentals.com- I have several friends who personally use this service to advertise their own vacation rental properties.

http://www.craigslist.com- Craigslist is another great resource for finding vacation properties. Simply go to the Craigslist page for the state or area you wish to visit and search under “vacation properties”.

http://www.vacationrentals.com- The site is the #1 vacation rental site according to a quick Google search. I have not personally used it to book a vacation home, however it seems to have a lot of properties listed from Maine, Florida, California, Colorado, and South Carolina (areas I like to visit).

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Don’t Get Screwed by Your Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
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Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

marina k. villatoro August 19, 2009 at 12:03 am

I’ll one up you and say don’t buy a house:) I had one and sold it, and now we only rent and it’s the greatest freedom and flexibility. if there’s a leak, it’s not my problem. If the doors aren’t working, not my problem:)

Ryan @ Planting Dollars January 11, 2010 at 3:45 am

I think it all depends what you value. Marina’s comment illustrates that she values freedom and mobility, whereas someone who knows they’d like to stay in an area and aren’t afraid of handywork should purchase a home. Same goes with a vacation home as it has the potential of becoming a tax benefit, a possible investment property, an appreciating asset, and one that doesn’t need a large amount of maintenence depending on use.

When I was in high school my family and I built our vacation home ourselves and made out about $100k by doing so which was borrowable towards additional real estate holdings. I would agree with your article for my present situation as a recent college grad exploring travel, but those who can afford it and don’t mind being tied down to a location might not agree.

Ben January 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Good points Ryan, perhaps my next article will be 8 reasons why buying a Vacation Property is better than renting! In fact, I’ll get working on that this week!

Davion Scalf February 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Just post. Would like more.

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