Your Perfect Vacation Home On a Budget

You’ve worked hard, made sacrifices, and maybe raised some successful children.
This is your time, seniors. Time to enjoy all the good things in life you’ve been missing. Who knows? Maybe it’s time to buy that vacation home you’ve been dreaming of.


Are you ready for vacation property?

If you already own a home, you know that you need to have your ducks in a row. Minimally, you need a 20 percent down payment. Make sure you also have the income needed to pay insurance, taxes, and maintenance on a second home.

It’s likely that your lender will demand proof of savings that go beyond your down payment and ability to handle the mortgage, and that may happen late in the game. Typically a retirement fund will fulfill this expectation.

Make sure you also have the time to enjoy and maintain your vacation property. Empty vacation homes fall into disrepair and attract vandals and squatters, just like any other house.

You need someone to keep tabs on your property in your absence. If you don’t want to pay a property manager, befriend your neighbors and ask one or two of them to check on your property. Offer to do the same for them.

Some vacation home owners put their home in a vacation rental program so that it makes a little money when the owners are not in possession. This is a good way to make sure that a professional property manager is maintaining your digs. And the extra income may help you with the interest on your loan.

Choose a state with low real estate costs

Many retirees are looking for specific landscape features like mountains with a lake view or near the ocean. If you just want the lake and mountains, do you really need Lake Como in Italy? It will be a lot cheaper to shop for a vacation home in West Virginia or Tennessee where there are plenty of mountains and lakes.

Similarly, if you have your heart set on or near the beach, Florida, Alabama, and coastal Georgia will cost you, but not as much as California. A beachfront house on Jekyll Island, Georgia, is still a lot more affordable than San Diego.

Moving overseas

Nothing inspires the imagination like the possibility of a vacation home in Paris or Rome. The good news is that vacation property overseas might be more affordable than you think. The bad news is that it comes with more paperwork headaches.

Unless you are fluent in the principal language spoken, you will need a dual-language lawyer to help you navigate the process of buying overseas. There are often transfer taxes and taxes on foreigners buying real estate that are unfamiliar to Americans.

The coastlines of Spain and Portugal still offer good values as do Jamaica, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The more adventurous you are about exploring outside the tourist areas, the more money you are likely to save. Some entrepreneurial souls are buying up property in Argentina and Chile because they know it’s a great vacation destination and a good value in years to come.

If you’re more of a culture vulture, but you don’t have the money to buy a flat in London, consider the Czech Republic’s Prague, a bastion of museums, puppetry, and musical performance. Some more adventurous vacation homebuyers are snapping up property in Sofia, Bulgaria, a historic city rich in opera and art.

Wherever you land, you will enjoy your vacation home so much more if you do your research before buying. So dig in and learn about your many wonderful options.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. Henry believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.