Plain Money ideas

Brilliant vacation home strategy

Several times when I was growing up, my family visited others’ vacation homes — Uncle Claude’s beachfront house at Gulf Shores, a business friend’s cabin on the Savannah River, Jim and Mary Louise’s place on Lake Martin. I thought how neat it would be to have a vacation home when I grew up.

Later in life, I came to a different perspective as some of my wealthier friends began to buy vacation homes. They were always worrying about something. Did that last storm damage the lake house? Or, by the fireside at home in December: Did we remember to drain the plumbing, or are the pipes freezing even now, setting off a disaster? When vacation time came, there was only one place they could go — because they had so much money in it.

Being an economist, I started to reflect: What did I like so much about vacation homes? My short list of answers: the casual interiors, the open floor plans, the use of natural finishes and the wood stoves and fireplaces.

Then is when it hit me: I have a vacation home. Our (only) home has everything I would want in a vacation home (such as those natural wood finishes and wood stove). This all came about through various decorating and interior decisions over the years. We get to live causally at our place year round. We don’t have to worry about the maintenance or cost of another home. When we go on vacation, we usually go for a lakeside cabin rental. When our vacation ends, we pack up and go, happily leave the off-season maintenance to others. And then we return to our year-round vacation home. How’s that for a brilliant vacation home strategy?