Buying a Vacation Home

Unique Vacation Destinations

If you’re looking for something a bit different, a vacation destination off the beaten path may be more your style. Keep in mind that if you are planning to rent your home out to vacationers, you might want to stick to more popular locations. However, if you want a one-of-a-kind getaway destination, here are some fantastic (and often underrated) vacation spots:

  • Kingfield, ME: Kingfield is wooded, peaceful, and close to one of the best skiing destinations in the US, Sugarloaf Resort. Kingfield is also very affordable, with homes starting around $220,000.
  • Corpus Christi, TX: When you think about great beach towns, Corpus Christi probably doesn’t spring to mind. This works in your favor since oceanfront property is very affordable in this cozy Gulf location. In fact, you can find homes for less than $200,000.
  • Oscoda, MI: Located on Lake Huron, Oscoda gives you the best of both worlds: a beachy shoreline and plenty of wintertime snow. This terrific little town has a variety of properties available, with some priced below $100,000.
  • Chattanooga, TN: If mountain hiking, caves, and waterfalls are your thing, Chattanooga is one of the most affordable vacation destinations in the country. You can find a home for less than $300,000.
  • Stroudsburg, PA: An adorable, historic community set in the Poconos, Stroudsburg oozes small-town charm. The Poconos have long been a great vacation destination, and you can get a house in Stroudsburg for about $300,000.
  • Greybull, WY: Are you looking for solitude? A place where you can go horseback riding or hiking and rarely see another person? Wide-open spaces are all yours in Greybull, a tiny town of less than 2,000. Greybull is between Bighorn National Forest and Yellowstone National Park, giving you plenty of mountains and valleys to explore. Best of all, you can find a vacation home in Greybull for right around $200,000.
  • Petersburg, AK: It might take a bit of extra effort to get there, but the island community of Petersburg has stunning mountain views, cozy fishing villages, and wildlife. Located on the Frederick Sound, you can watch humpback whales in the summer, take a boat trip to LeConte Glacier, or just sit and watch the boats cruise through the harbor. You can buy a house here for around $200,000.
  • Ocean Springs, MS: Situated along the eastern shore of Biloxi Bay, Ocean Springs is an artsy little beach town with a long history, first settled in 1699. Spend your days at the beach, or head into town and enjoy the many restaurants, art galleries, and shops. A house in Ocean Springs averages about $200,000.
  • Klamath Falls, OR: Near Crater Lake and not far from Mount Shasta and Lava Beds National Monument, Klamath Falls has something for everyone. From hiking and bird-watching to boating and fishing, Klamath Falls provides a variety of outdoor adventures. Homes in Klamath Falls average about $350,000.
  • Fort Dodge, IA: A terrific location known for tubing along Lizard Creek, Fort Dodge is close to Brushy Creek State Recreational Area, Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center, and Dolliver State Park. The average home price in Fort Dodge is about $130,000.
  • Alamogordo, NM: If you love beautiful, white sand but aren’t really a fan of the ocean, Alamogordo is located near the White Sands National Monument. This park provides visitors with 275 square miles of white sand dunes made of gypsum, and it’s a spectacular sight. The park is ideal for hiking, camping, and bicycling. Alamogordo is also near the Sacramento Mountains, which offer even more hiking trails. Alamogordo is very affordable, with homes averaging about $150,000.

What to Consider When Buying a Vacation Home

Purchasing a vacation property, especially if you plan to rent it out, is much different than buying a primary residence. For example, the lender might require different financing than if you were buying a primary residence. Make sure you do thorough research and find a real estate agent in the area you are considering who can help you navigate all the obstacles you might encounter. Here are some things to consider as you look for vacation homes:

  1. Research the area carefully. If you want to use your home as a short-term rental property or if you plan to leave the home vacant for extended periods, discuss this with your real estate agent. It’s critical they understand the purpose of the home so they can steer you away from properties that won’t suit your needs. For example, if a community has an HOA, short-term rentals might not be allowed. There could also be local restrictions against vacation rentals in certain places. If you buy a home without realizing this, you could be stuck with a property you can’t rent out.
  2. Weigh the pros and cons of hiring a property manager. If your vacation home is some distance from your primary residence, it might be a good idea to hire a property manager. There’s a lot to deal with when you own a short-term rental property, from marketing the property to screening applicants to cleaning and maintaining the home between guests. A property manager can help you deal with all these things. While a property manager can save you time and give you peace of mind, this will cost you. Rates vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the rental income for a property manager.
  3. Location is key. If you plan to rent out your home, you want to be in a desirable location for vacationers. If, for example, you buy in a beach town but your home is miles from the shore, you may have more difficulty renting it out. If your home is in an area with spotty Wi-Fi, that could also impact its rentability. If you want to sell the property in the future, you want to buy in an area where value is increasing. Review area comps with your real estate agent and make sure the home has features that will be attractive to vacationers. For example, if it’s a drive to the beach, perhaps the home has a private swimming pool that visitors can enjoy.
  4. Visit first. Make sure you’re familiar with the area in which you are planning to buy. Take a vacation and spend some time there. Learn more about the area’s attractions, secret destinations, and entertainment venues. This will not only help you determine where to buy, but it will also help you when it comes to marketing your property if you rent it out.
  5. Stick to your budget. Plan your budget before you start looking at properties and don’t be swayed to go above that amount. When planning your budget, make sure you factor in all costs, not just the mortgage payment. For example, if the property is on a lake or river, you might need flood insurance. If it’s along the coast, you might need insurance that covers hurricanes. Set up an account to pay for unexpected expenses, such as items that break, go missing, or need updating.

Whether you rent in out or not, a vacation home is more than a getaway destination. It’s a place where you’ll create memories with loved ones, relax and recharge, and build relationships in a new community. Start your search for a vacation home today and soon you’ll be enjoying your very own seaside escape, mountain retreat, or wooded hideaway.

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