Holiday Homes: Do You Need One And What Are The Alternatives?

By • Jun 5th, 2013 • Category: Travel

Le gite: holiday home France

Holiday Home France
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Stephane Mignon

Liberace once said “it doesn’t matter how rich you are, you can only sleep in one bed a night.” While the man himself was over the top, his surprising philosophy on wealth is anything but, and could be a sound reminder to anyone thinking of buying a holiday home. Telegraph finance reporter Ian Cowie, for example, thinks that while it might seem like a great way to invest your money, there are many issues you should consider before you buy a second home. And according to an article in The Guardian , “more than 2.3 million people in England and Wales have a second address they use for more than 30 days a year, with Cornwall the most popular location for holiday homes, according to official figures from the 2011 census.”

Going the distance

How far away your property is will impact the amount of time you’re likely to spend there. John Waldron, the Devon director of estate agents Connell’s pointed out, “for a second home that is to be used for that quick weekend away, ease of access is an absolute must, because a four or five hour journey at each end of the weekend can take the gloss off the holiday.”

Cowie suggests that while the key routes from London are improving, he is also quick to point out that it sobering to consider how far you’ll want to travel at the end of a long working week, “no matter how idyllic the fisherman’s cottage may be.”

What to do

An important factor when looking at a holiday home is what you want to do when you get there. Are you a beach lover, a fishing fanatic or a keen golfer? Perhaps you just want a quiet place to go that’s not the city. Keep in mind what you want out of your leisure time and holiday breaks when looking at a location for your second property. Will you want to do the same thing and go to the same place every time you get a chance to escape? Will your property only be a desirable destination in the summer, leaving you with long winter breaks to fill? It’s worth considering if you’re simply limiting your choices once you buy a holiday home.

Security and upkeep

An unoccupied home can be a target for thieves. Robert Theobald of Fulfords property agents advises, “second home buyers to look at property which is not too isolated.” He said homeowners should “leave lights and the radio or stereo on a timer or if you can afford it, investigate lighting systems or audio visual system which can be remotely controlled so you can give the impression that you are at home.”

Another way to prevent your property looking like a holiday house is to maintain the garden and exterior, but for many who are looking for a break from work, slaving in the garden doesn’t sound too inviting. As Cowie also points out, “a scruffy front garden is only one way to inadvertently irritate your new neighbours. By contrast, to really enjoy a holiday home ‘townies’ will often find it is more important to get on with the people next door to their second property than it is in London.”

With the potential of attracting thieves and putting off your neighbours, garden maintenance might be a cost worth considering when looking at the pros and cons of a second home.

The real costs

So it seems that the cost of owning a second home is not limited to the mortgage. There’s maintenance costs to consider, security issues to ponder and for the socially minded there’s also a cost to the community. Kate Hougton from the Campaign to Protect Rural England says, “average urban wages are higher than average rural wages so a high level of holiday-home ownership can have the effect of pricing out people who work in rural areas”. Not only pushing young families out of the market, second homes also leave the community deserted and economically disadvantaged for most of the year.

But it’s not just the bigger social issues that need to be examined. Whether you can afford a second home is the real question. While there might some council rate reductions and negative gearing opportunities to make it all a bit easier to justify, you will be entering into another mortgage and extending your personal debt considerably. The wealthy aren’t immune to debt and sometimes the desire for status and second home ownership can be the trigger to long-lasting debt issues.

When you look at the cost of purchasing and maintaining a second home, take that figure and the stress involved, and consider the holidays you could have with that money. You can rent apartments abroad, go on a cruise, spend summer in a provincial villa or experience other cultures. What’s more you can do all of those things over time, spreading the costs over the years and avoid serious debt. What’s important is keeping an eye open for opportunities. As has been pointed out, a holiday home can even turn into a lucrative investment – if handled well.

Author Bio: Reporting from Chester, Jessica Bourne has established herself as an in-demand writer for topics of international economics and personal finance. Jessica recommends Eccount Money (http://www.eccount.com/), a leader in the field of companies specialising in helping people with debt.

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