How to Find and Buy a Vacation Home (Tips You Never Knew)

What you’ll learn in this post:

  • How to Buy a Vacation Home
  • How to Save for a Vacation Home
  • Tips to Buy a Vacation Home
  • Owning a Vacation Home Pros and Cons

Do you dream of owning a vacation home on your favorite Florida beach? Somewhere where you can dig your toes in the sand, beer in hand as you chat with your friends? Or how about a little mountain chalet? A place where all your friends congregate and where the après ski is actually at your home? A future retirement Have you been trying to figure out how to buy a vacation home? The truth is, it’s not that dissimilar from buying your primary residence. However, you need to look at things from another angle. Read on for some valuable things to consider before you buy a vacation home.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

1. Where do you want your vacation home to be?

Where your vacation home to be

Before making any decisions, you should assess your needs and wants. Decipher between the two and delve deep into where you should buy. First, you must decide if you want to buy internationally or domestically. Many people purchase vacation homes in other countries, although that does add a lot more layers of red tape, it is possible.

If you choose to buy stateside, do you want to stay near your primary home, so it’s easy to access? Or would you prefer to buy in another state with a dramatically different climate? Are you a snowbird or a sunbird? Are you a city mouse living in a country house? Maybe it’s time to buy your perfect pied-a-terre in the big city. Make sure your vacation home fits your lifestyle. Don’t buy a condo with a pool if you hate swimming and want a garden.

2. How will you use the property?

The way you intend to use the property affects the down payment, as well as the mortgage rate. Will you use it as a true vacation home, only for your personal use? Or, are you thinking about buying a vacation home as an investment? You’ll retire there one day, but for now, you will rent it out and collect another stream of income. As an investment home, the down payment and mortgage rates are higher than if it was a second home.

3. What’s your bottom line?

Just like buying your primary home, you need to figure the bottom line. It’s not just about the final sale price and closing costs; there is more to it. Figure in the stuff that lenders don’t: furnishings, gas, electric, property maintenance, landscaping, pool upkeep, you get the point. All that comes out of your bottom line, and now you have two homes to pay the bills on. It doesn’t matter if you are buying condos in the city or summer homes on the beach; you’ll need to go through the same mortgage process as you did with your primary residence. To make sure you don’t buy more than your budget allows, here are a few ideas for saving money for that dream home.

How to Save for a Vacation Home

Buying a vacation home may seem like a fantasy for most people. Or only for the rich. But it doesn’t have to be. If you cut back on spending and stop squandering your money, you could hit a significant financial target. There are some significant factors as well as little daily habits, that if you pay attention to, could help you achieve your savings goals.

Major Factors

  • Take a close look at your banking. If your checking account is costing you money, find a new one. Are you paying ATM fees? Stop that! Ask your bank to waive the fees or find a new bank altogether. You can compare bank fees on sites like Nerd Wallet or Bank Rate.
  • Start a s
  • ide hustle. Work online to make extra cash. Check out sites like Fiverr or Freelancer and take advantage of the gig economy.
  • Watch your spending habits. Do you really need that big screen TV? Probably not. Take that money and toss it into a savings account instead.
  • Downsize. If you have a gas-guzzling SUV, can you downsize it? Trade it in for something smaller that uses less gas, or better yet, no gas.
  • Ask for lower rates. If you’ve been with the same car insurance company for a while, and are in good standing, ask them to lower your premiums. If you ask and they won’t budge, find another insurance provider.

Credit card companies can lower your APR if you have good credit and payment history. You just have to plead your case.

Little Daily Habits

  • Stop eating out every day. If you spend $10 a weekday for lunch, that’s $2600 you could save just by bringing last night’s leftovers.
  • Stop drinking Starbucks and bring your coffee to work.
  • Monitor sales and use coupons from They offer coupons for everything from online courses to instore purchases. They donate a portion of their commissions to charities so it is a win-win.

Most of those ideas are pretty practicable; that is how to save for a vacation home. It doesn’t have to be some daunting, impossible undertaking. Implement these ideas, and in no time, you’ll be able to start the search for your new cottage in the mountains.But before you buy, remember that a vacation home is not the same as a vacation. Keep reading for some good advice before you start your search.

Tips to Buy a Vacation Home

Vacation Home Buying Tips

Try before you buy

One of the most crucial tips to buy a vacation home is not to rush into it. It’s never advisable to buy a home in a place you’ve never been to. It’s not a vacation. It’s a home, an important purchase that should not be taken lightly. It’s not a liquid investment that you can sell within a few months and get your money back. So, don’t buy in a place you’ve never spent a considerable amount of time. Rent there first for as long as you possibly can before you even think about buying. See what it’s like in the peak season? You may hate it when it’s jam-packed full of tourists taking up every square inch of the beach. You’ll only know that by staying there are different times of the year.

Talk to the locals or other vacation home buyers

If you go every year at the same time, it would be good to learn what it’s like year-round. You may not live there all year, but it would be good to know that in the winter, everything shuts down. If you decide to rent it out in the high season, knowing what is like in the offseason is essential. The locals also know what changes the area is going through and who is moving into the community. Ask them what they like and don’t like about living there to get a better perspective on what your future could look like there.

Pretend you’re a local, not just there on vacation

Vacation home plan

On vacation, you probably go out to eat more, but if you were living there for a few months, you’d probably cook. Check out the grocery stores, get supplies, cook at home. What about a gym? Is there one for you to join? Is the area busy enough to keep you entertained, even in the offseason? Remember, going there for a week is very different than spending a few months there. And while you may not be able to do that now, when you retire, spending three months in your vacation home may be very appealing.

Know the rules around renting out your place

If you plan to rent out your vacation home, make sure you are allowed to do so. Some places ban weekly rentals and Airbnb. If that is your intention, keep that in mind when looking at summer homes. However, the opposite is true if you’re looking for a peaceful place to spend your downtime. Make sure the property you are looking at does NOT allow weekly rentals, or you could have an influx of people flowing in and out of your community. They could be partying the night away – and in effect destroying yours.

Keep in mind travel time and costs

If your fabulous new vacation home is a few hours away from your primary residence, it will be easy to pop over for a quick unscheduled weekend. But if it takes you eight hours to drive or fly there, you won’t be going very often.You want your vacation home to be accessible when you need a vacation, so while your dream is to own a second home in Paris, the chances of you getting there regularly are pretty slim. That’s ok, as long as you know that before buying a lake house in remote Utah.

Work with a local real estate agent

Find a seasoned agent in the area you want to purchase a home. Make sure they have at least a couple of years’ experience and know the ins and outs of the market there.

Owning a Vacation Home Pros and Cons

The very idea of owning a vacation home is exciting, but don’t let the eagerness cloud your judgment. There are advantages and disadvantages to buying any home. Summer homes are no different. You need to know the realities about owning a vacation home – pros and cons – before you making a decision. Let’s dive in.

The Pros

  1. It’s Your Dream Home in Dreamy Location Sometimes a vacation home is nicer than your primary residence. You bought your first home many years ago, you were younger and not as experienced. But when you buy a vacation home, you are older, wiser, and have more life under your belt. You have learned from your mistakes and know exactly what you want. Your vacation home, whether you are buying a lake house or a city pad, is your adult dream home.
  2. Familiarity Doesn’t Always Breed Contempt We are all creatures of habit to some degree. Returning to the same place for every vacation can be very comforting. You know where the shops are, your faVacation Home Pros and Consvorite restaurants, the best beaches. The familiarity means you can become part of a community over the years.
  3. The Convenience Factor It’s All Yours! You can use it whenever you want. No need to lug big suitcases of clothes, or toys, or ski gear. If everything you need for the weekend is already there, you can pop over without planning a month in advance. If you live in Arizona and buy a vacation home in Aspen, Colorado, you could store all of your ski gear and winter clothes at your vacation home. What could be worse than packing for a weekend ski trip only to land and find that your skis never left the airport in Arizona?
  4. Rental Income Opportunities If the area is seasonal, renting it out could be a way to make money. However, that means you are taking your vacation during the shoulder or off-season.
  5. Tax Deductions for the Win If you don’t rent it out, the interest on your mortgage and the property taxes are deductible from your gross income. Just as they are on your primary mortgage.
  6. You’re Getting a Head Start on Your Retirement When you retire and no longer want to live in that tundra you’ve called home for the last 30 years, you’ve already found and established a second home in a place you love. You can finally be a snowbird.

The Cons

  1. High-Cost Mortgages The down payment and interest rates associated with a vacation home are usually higher than for a primary residence.
  2. Maintenance From a Distance Isn’t Easy If you are not there when a pipe bursts, you may not even know about it for a month. You may have to travel to your vacation home to assess the damage and sort out the problem. If it is something that can be fixed later, you might spend your entire vacation dealing with construction. It’s not much of a vacation.
  3. Variety is the Spice of Life, Right? You are paying a lot of money to own that home. If you need a vacation, will you feel guilty going elsewhere when your home is sitting empty?

You’ll probably feel the need to travel exclusively to your vacation home rather than explore other places. Since you just learned everything you need to know about owning a vacation home (pros and cons), there is only one thing left to ask yourself…

Should I buy a Vacation Home?

Let’s be real. Purchasing a vacation home is more than just picking a place to go when you need a vacation. If you keep returning to the same vacation spot year after year, and you fall in love with it each time, buying a vacation home is probably right for you. It will help cut down your accommodation costs and vacation expenses and could provide you an “on-call” vacation.

It could also be a fantastic investment for your future. Or a method to bring in an extra stream of income until you plan to stay there more often. However, if you are an explorer, and want to travel the world, maybe buying isn’t for you. We’ve just given you a lot of tips to buy a vacation home – the how-tos, the pros, and the cons. You are armed with all the knowledge you require to make the right decision.