The Pros and Cons of Owning a Second Home During Retirement

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Second Home During Retirement

As you finally approach retirement, does your dream to finally own a second home have the potential to become a reality?

It’s a dream so many of us have, so I decided to investigate further by chatting with various friends who actually own second homes in other parts of the country. As I live in a desert area, the summers can be quite long, hot and dry. A getaway to a cooler, more refreshing area is a break we all look forward to.

One friend who has a second home, spends her summers in the northern lake area of Minnesota, responded to me by saying: “Your vacation ends when you buy a vacation home!” Not the response I was expecting.

Although she and her husband do have someone to check on their lake home while they’re away, there is always plenty of upkeep that needs to be attended to when they get up there in late spring. Considering no one is living in the house during the winter months, (which is a wonderful time to live in the desert), I can understand that a house that has endured the harsh winter months of the north is ready for some extra TLC.

However, in their case, my friend’s husband loves to be busy with handyman work and virtually spends the whole summer puttering around the house and doing maintenance. I’m not so sure this is the norm, but in their case, they’re happy doing work around their second home.

So for a new retiree who will now have a great deal of free time to spend in a second home, what does this mean for you?

I’ve listed a few Pros & Cons that may assist you in making the best decision:


  1. Leaving harsh weather conditions behind
    “You’re outa here!" This is your home and you can enjoy it whenever you choose to do so. You may love going there every two months, or every two days. When visiting the house more frequently, one can keep maintenance in check too!

  2. You can invite friends and family
    Give them a break from that long hot summer, or freezing cold winter, so they can come and visit you in your perfect climate!

  3. It’s your home - and you own it!
    Decorate, furnish and landscape it exactly the way it appeals to you.

  4. You can leave your ‘stuff’
    If you’re trying your hand as a budding artist, leave your easels, canvases and paints. Perhaps you love the surf beaches of Hawaii (no more lugging that surfboard through airports) or, if on a lake or river, your favorite fly fishing tackle and lines. If you enjoy the winter & summer ambience of a home in the mountains, leave the skis/snowboards, hiking gear and all the clothing and garb that goes along with your specific recreational pastime.

  5. You can rent it part time as a vacation rental and make some $$$!
    This does take more planning on your part, locking personal items away, and preparing linens and kitchen items etc. You would also need someone to manage the property in your absence; however, renting the property can help pay for the mortgage, taxes, and other expenses.


  1. Your vacations will be in the same place
    For most people this is probably just fine as you’ve chosen a location that you really love, but unless your budget allows it, you are most likely going to be spending your time at the same destination each year, or several times a year.

  2. You may require a second vehicle
    This isn’t going to be the case for everyone - because some people enjoy the adventure of a long road trip. I for one love road trips and exploring the stops along the way. Of course, others will need to fly to their long distance destination, and happy to have a car when they arrive, especially if you plan on spending several months there.

  3. You are responsible for your property
    So be sure to have a local maintenance man you can call on and someone who can check on the place periodically. There are licensed and bonded professionals who can check on home security in your absence. Is there lawn care required/period landscaping? Does it require pest control? It will also require house cleaning - especially if you are using it for short term vacation rental.

  4. You need to have the correct renters insurance and liability insurance in place
    Unfortunately, accidents do happen. if someone has an accident on your property be sure you have suitable liability and renters insurance in place.

A second home is something you’ve earned in your retirement, and the ultimate goal is for you to enjoy it at your leisure. It’s your retreat, your getaway, and you can make it work. The above notes are merely guidelines to assist you in making decisions that will enhance and make this transition the enjoyable experience it is meant to be.