Getting Ready to Buy Your First Vacation Home: Tips For Success

Vacation Home

Have you reached the point where you are seriously considering buying the second home you’ve always dreamed of? Whether you dream of a luxury villa in Italy, a coastal getaway, or a ski resort lodge to share with family, your first purchase of a second home is something to consider carefully. Even with a steadily growing economy and a relatively strong real estate market, you still must consider what you are trying to get out of a second home to know if it is right for you right now.

The first step in making your getaway home a reality is understanding your goals and needs. Here are some key points to consider:

What’s your motivation?

There are the familiar reasons for buying a second home – wanting a place to share with family and friends, or locking in a retirement home. Some people even look to special vacation homes as family heirlooms to be passed down among the generations. Understanding what’s motivating the purchase will help you make the best decision regarding what you want.

Knowing what you want

Getting to the bottom of what you really need may take some thought. Down deep, are you a nester or an explorer? Would your family visit no matter if the home was on the ocean or across it? Younger children may love spending time at the secluded summer place, while teenagers and young adults may be less inclined to leave their cadre of friends.

The basics – house vs. condo

Different types of homes bring different costs and demands. When thinking about a house versus a condo consider maintenance, like yard work or snow removal. If you think you’ll use your second home only occasionally and don’t want to fuss with maintenance or worry about security, a condo may be your better choice if it fits with the reasons motivating you to purchase the second home.

Location matters

It’s hardly earth-shattering news, but location matters. However, it matters in more ways than you may have thought of.

Going abroad

Second homes in international locales can hold special appeal. While purchasing a second home abroad can be a little more challenging, it can be rewarding both culturally and financially. For example, you can buy a house on the beach in El Salvador or a villa in Tuscany for a fraction of what it would cost on the New Jersey shore.

While the value may be greater in an international location, there are other factors to consider, like security, local property laws, political stability, and the currency exchange rate. And don’t forget access to healthcare especially if you’re considering it for a retirement home.

Try before you buy

If you are thinking about buying in a place you haven’t been visiting regularly, there is good reason to test out the region first. Consider renting for a season or two to help you evaluate the area, meet local residents discover some valuable pros and cons – like seasonal weather and tourism patterns that might affect your experience.

Trying before buying is especially important if you are considering moving internationally, as there are many more things you may not have thought of that would only occur once you are actually on the soil.

Sleep on it

Fresh from the pleasures of a tropical vacation, it may be tempting to purchase a home before you return to the mainland. But decisions made in an elated moment may eventually be disappointing. “Do the research first to make sure the idea makes sense from a bigger picture view of what you’re trying to accomplish in your life and within your financial plan,” Bragar says.

Talk to the experts

Whether you’re looking for a home for vacation or retirement, talk with experts who can help you understand the implications of your decision and execute it.

A financial advisor can help you determine how the purchase fits within your plan to reach your long-term goals, and they can help you organize all the attendant considerations (e.g., taxes, insurance, title, cash flow, etc.).

Purchasing a second home is a major decision, one that should be made with both emotion and logic. Once you’ve done your homework and closed a solid deal, you can just pack the sunscreen and enjoy.  Embarking down this path with a trusted financial advisor can help make the process a whole lot easier.

Los Angeles-based Aspiriant ( provides independent investment management, wealth planning, family office, and wealth management services across the United States.


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