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4 things to consider when buying a vacation home

Ginger Dean

September 22, 2015

By: Ginger Dean, Home Finance Specialist

In: Finance and Legal

Having a vacation home is a nice way to get away on weekends and during the warm summer months, but just remember that tranquility and relaxation come at a price. Let's take a look at a few things to consider when buying a vacation home.

Proximity to the city

When it comes to buying real estate it's all about location, location, location. If your vacation home is too far from the city you may not get as much use out of it as originally planned; then it becomes wasted money instead of a good investment. Aim for a driving time that's two to three hours from where you live. This is why locations such as the Hamptons and the Berkshires are so popular with residents of New York City. Looking for some other top contenders? Here are the ten best places to buy a vacation home according to Market Watch.

If you plan on renting out your vacation home, the location of the home within the community is also very important. How close is it to all the amenities in the local town? The closer the better for the convenience of your guests.

Think about the plumbing

When people are on vacation, they want to relax, and that means not worrying about the essential utilities. The last thing you want occupying your thoughts is trouble with the plumbing. So before you buy, ask some questions. For instance, is it well water or city plumbing? This will have an impact on your monthly hydro costs as well as the cleanliness (and reliability) of your water supply.

Depending on how far you are from the closest city you may be stuck with a septic tank as your only option. Do some research to decide if that's a reasonable option for you.

Always get an inspection

If your vacation home is located somewhere with brutal winters or boiling summers, then weather may have left a mark on the home's condition. Before you take the key, get an inspection so you know what to expect in terms of renovation or updating costs.

And on that note, the maintenance costs on one home can be a lot, but when you add the costs of renovations for a second home, the expenses quickly add up. Make sure you've factored this into your budget.

Know what happens when you're not there

Don't forget about what needs to happen while you're away, says Forbes. A vacation home is another yard that needs to be kept and another residence that needs to be secured. If you won't be there year-round, the home still has to be maintained. Hiring a local property manager or grounds keeper is an additional expense.

Having a vacation home means you'll suddenly have two of everything, i.e. two roofs to maintain, two hot water heaters to install, and two sets of windows to protect. Keep this in mind as you consider the prospect of adding to your primary residence.

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