How to Choose the Perfect Second Home Location | Pacaso

How to choose the perfect location for your second home

Laura Vecsey

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When you’re deciding whether to buy a second home, you will consider cost, financing, expenses and location. The real estate cliché about location, location, location is just as true for second homes. It’s really all about where you’ll spend your time and build your memories. Where you buy can be driven by many factors. Here are a few to consider as you think about what’s right for you.

Travel time

No matter where you live, you’re likely to use your second home more if you don’t have a spirit-breaking slog to get there. The commute must compute!

Identify communities you love with a 2-to-3-hour drive time from your primary home. It’s the reason Palm Springs and Las Vegas have long appealed to Angelinos, and why Napa, Sonoma and Lake Tahoe are retreats of choice for many San Franciscans.

Minimizing the commute to a second home has traditionally been a consideration because people worked weekdays, giving them only the weekend at their second homes. That has shifted a bit, as more Americans have flexible work schedules and many can work from anywhere. 

If you are planning to use your home less often but for a longer stretch, you could buy a second home in another part of the country. This will make planning ahead important so factor both time and cost of travel into your buying equation.

The essentials

Next, consider the kind of life you want to live in your second home.

Does a remote home surrounded by nature appeal to you, or do you want to be a stone’s throw from urban amenities? Are you semi-retired and looking for new adventures, or a young family seeking fun, safe activities?

No matter which you prefer, most of us expect modern conveniences and amenities. As you shop for a second home, ask:

  • What recreational activities are nearby? Explore area hiking and biking trails, and check out boating and fishing spots. Public parks will likely offer skateboard areas and basketball courts. If it’s a ski hill you’re after, check out what if offers in both in winter and summer. Are golf or tennis must-haves? Look into public and membership-only options. If you’d rather work out indoors, take a tour of local gyms or yoga studios.
  • How close do you want to be to food markets and restaurants? Whether you love to cook or just eat well, proximity to good food can be a draw for many buyers. Explore your potential neighborhood and ask locals where they love to eat or grab a coffee.
  • What services are essential to you? You may feel better knowing there’s a hospital close by. Or you may need to be near a train or airport. Some want access to a public library. Identify the services you don’t want to forego while spending time at your second home. 
  • Is the internet service in your second home suitable for both work and leisure? In addition to streaming Netflix, you may want the option of working remotely.  

One or more seasons

Some vacation-home locations cater to seasonal visitors – think ski towns or warm-winter destinations. Some bustling communities transform into quiet, locals-only spots in the off-season.

If you are looking for a second home for seasonal use, like skiing in the winter or lake access for summertime fun, it’s wise to research weather and real estate market conditions to get the full picture. 

You’ll want to know if roads near your summer-time home get plowed in winter if you wanted to access off-season, or if your ski chalet is plagued with mosquitoes come summer? 

If you plan to use your home year-round, the community will be a big factor in your buying decision. Are there recreational clubs, churches and medical services that meet your needs?

Drive around the community, ask questions and check online reviews. The more you know about where you’re going to buy, the more confident you’ll feel that you’ve picked the best location for your second home.

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