Buying a second home in another state

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Jen Lyons

Living Room in Aspen
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When you’ve found a vacation destination you love and you’re spending a lot of time visiting, it can make sense to buy a place of your own — after all, those hotel nights get expensive, and it’s nice to have a second home where you can set down (part-time) roots. Before you buy a home out of state, here are five key considerations you should work through as you search for your dream second home

1. Cost of living differences 

How much everyday items cost can vary significantly in different parts of the country, and it’s important to factor those differences into your second home budget. Whether it’s the cost of consumables like groceries and gas during your visits, or utilities and home services, it all adds up. You’ll also want to research property tax rates in your desired second home location, home insurance rates, HOA requirements and any other recurring out-of-pocket expenses. 

2. Climate-related challenges

Many popular vacation destinations are places where the climate varies widely from one season to the next — think ski towns like Park City, Lake Tahoe and Aspen. Homes with climate extremes can require extra maintenance due to big temperature swings and harsh winters. For example, you’ll want to factor in the cost of heating a mountain home in the colder months and the expense of having your driveway plowed. In warm-weather destinations, factor in the cost of air conditioning (hello, Palm Springs desert!) or the toll that salty sea air takes on a beachfront home.  

3. Seasonal subtleties

Before buying a second home in a popular tourist destination, plan to visit during various times of the year. Stay during the peak vacation season, observing things like how crowded restaurants and parks are and how bad traffic gets. You’ll also want to spend some time there in the low season to see if there are enough amenities and activities to keep you and your family entertained. Before putting down roots, you’ll want to make sure you love the destination, no matter the season. Another great way to get a feel for seasonal shifts is to connect with year-round locals and ask for their impressions. 

4. Management and maintenance 

A big challenge of owning a second home far from your primary residence is handling property management and maintenance. Finding a local property manager you can trust is extremely important. The same goes for a maintenance person, landscaper and other home service providers. They don’t come cheap, but having trustworthy people to check on your home after a storm or deal with a leak will save you time, money and many unnecessary trips between your two homes. 

5. Accessibility and location 

A beautiful second home isn’t worth having if you don’t use it. Choose a location that will be easily accessible for you, given where you live and work, your schedule and your travel budget. Many second home owners find that they get much more use out of a second home that’s driving distance away, or at least a direct flight. The cost or hassle of multiple flights and the burden of long travel days can make spending time in a second home a lot less likely. 

An easier way to own a second home 

Owning a second home in your dream destination doesn’t have to be complicated. When you co-own a Pacaso, the logistics are taken care of. While we can’t magically lower the cost of living or change the weather, we do handle many of the headaches that come with second home ownership. Pacaso takes care of management and maintenance, so you can spend every minute of your hard-earned vacation time enjoying your second home. 

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