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Vacation Home Advice for Retirees


Right now, there are more people 65 and up in the United States than there have been at any other time in our nation's history.  Currently, that figure stands at 15.1 percent.  Granted, not all people in their mid-60s are retired.  (According to stats from 2017, 19 percent of the 65-plus crowd are still working).  Nonetheless, many people who have the chance to retire or who get older and decide it's time to cross items off their bucket list, start taking more vacations -- and many are diving into the investment of purchasing a vacation home.  And that can be a very good thing.  Taking a vacation has been shown to lower stress, improve your cardiovascular system, and even strengthen your marriage.  If you're a retiree in the market for a vacation home, here are some tips and advice to consider.


The Finances

Many of us idealize retirement as a time of globetrotting and time-sharing on beaches as soft as powdered sugar, free of all worries about money. But since 14.5 percent of seniors in the US, who should be basking in retirement, live below the federal poverty line, that story isn’t as realistic as we’d like to think. For the vast majority of us, no matter how old we are, money is still a consideration. Just because you’ve escaped the 9-to-5 daily grind doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ponder these questions when looking for a vacation spot:

  • Where is the best place to buy? (Think about how close it is to you or how often you’ll go there.)
  • Can you afford a second home?
  • Is this a good investment, or will your money better serve you if it’s parked elsewhere?

Square all this away, and you’ll be able to relax a lot more after you get the papers signed.


Doing Your Research

Now that you’ve got your finances in order, think about your desired area, and then do your research. As with searching for any property, it’s best to scroll through online databases, talk to a trusted realtor, or both. Expect a property’s asking price to fluctuate depending on where it is. Keep in mind that if you don’t have the cash to pay for a vacation home outright, you’ll need to take out a mortgage to get it — and if you’re already a homeowner, that won’t be your only home loan. If you can afford it, great! But if not, don’t be afraid to pull out of that plan. In the long run, you’ll feel far better in retirement if you’re not stressed out.

If you’re using a secondary property as a vacation rental, you might need to think about how to store some of your possessions. If you have heirlooms you want to be secured or anything you want to protect from accidental breakage, consider adding a storage building or garage to your property. Many people go with steel when constructing these buildings, as they are relatively easy to assemble and designed for durability. If you need more information, Armstrong Steel has an informative guide to the world of steel buildings.


Holding Down the Fort

Before you pull the trigger on buying your vacation home, read up on all the hidden costs that you’re likely to encounter. These include tax implications and stricter mortgage terms, as well as the cost of maintaining it when you’re not there. If you buy a condo or a townhouse, your homeowners association fees should cover your expenses in this regard. But if you have a single-family home, you’re on the hook for all repairs, great or small. If you hire a property management company, you’ll probably shell out at least $75 per month (not including repairs). Meanwhile, there’s also homeowner's insurance to consider.

Here are some ways to keep those costs in check:

  • Remember that premiums for new homes are generally lower than for old homes.
  • Install storm shutters, impact-resistant glass, and a fire-resistant roof.
  • Find and install the right security system for your needs — a step that you should take both for your safety and for your wallet.

Buying a vacation home in retirement is an investment, but it’s one that could make this next chapter of your life even more exciting. Know what you can afford, research your ideal area, and make plans for upkeep and maintenance, and you’ll be able to make the most of your new home away from home.

Image via Unsplash