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Buying vacation homes in the US


muscleman
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My company just allowed us to permanently work from home, which makes me think if I should buy a vacation home somewhere that's both affordable and enjoyable. I can also rent it out as airbnb later after COVID is gone.

Any suggestions? I am currently in Seattle and suffer from the consistent rain. I really need some sunshine.

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe. 

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Buy the home/condo to live in - and rent the vacation property as/when you need it.

 

SD

 

That depends on how long you live in the vacation property right? I could spend 4 months a year there now that my company allows permanently work from home

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Thank you. What does below MM 30 mean?

What do you do outdoor in Utan, Montana, Wyoming?

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Buy the home/condo to live in - and rent the vacation property as/when you need it.

 

SD

 

+1.

 

I agree with SD. I thought about buying 2nd house as investment in Florida in 2008-2009 crash, but for me the headache of upkeep is not worth it. Thought about buying a 2nd house in Lithuania, but same thing - actually even more headache to keep unoccupied or partially occupied.

 

But YMMV. Some people love having multiple houses and are good at either outsourcing upkeep or taking care of it themselves. I know people like that both in US and in Lithuania. It's easier if you're retired and have more time to shuffle between the houses and put down fires. It might be easier if 2nd house is actually an apartment - although that might have different set of issues. It's easier if you throw money at it - for upkeep/cleanup/managing/etc.

 

Edit: (skip if you want to avoid depressing list of questions from no-second-house whiner): for Florida: who's gonna hurricane prep the house? deal with any damage from storms/hurricanes? for any snowed in locations: who's gonna do snow removal, check for burst pipes, snow dams, leaks, etc.? for any areas with wildfires: who's gonna fire prep the house if there's wildfire? For any locations with not-low-crime: who's gonna check that house is not broken into/etc.? How about heating bills / AC bills while unoccupied?    Yeah, most of these can be solved by throwing money at it. Some can be solved by being outgoing and neighbor friendly in some locations and getting neighbors/friends/family to look after your house.

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Some places have 2 seasons and are desirable in summer and winter. I am a big fan of the mountain states and I think the  Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and Flagstaff are great locations (albeit not cheap). If you don’t mind the Mormons and weak beer, then Utah has great areas too.

 

If using it as a second home, you need to consider airport connectivity too - Flagstaff via PHX works great.

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Some places have 2 seasons and are desirable in summer and winter. I am a big fan of the mountain states and I think the  Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and Flagstaff are great locations (albeit not cheap). If you don’t mind the Mormons and weak beer, then Utah has great areas too.

 

If using it as a second home, you need to consider airport connectivity too - Flagstaff via PHX works great.

 

Is Flagstaff actually a place to live? I've been there couple times while going to Grand Canyon and IMO it's basically a deserted gateway town with couple hotels for cheap people who don't want to pay up to stay next to Grand Canyon. Pretty zero attractions. Yeah, you can drive to Grand Canyon and Sedona, but ...  ::)

 

I know you hate Phoenix, but Phoenix is actually big enough (actually maybe too big right now) to have restaurants, culture, activities, etc. Flagstaff IMO is dead. Though maybe it has changed in the last 10-15 years since I stayed there.  ::)

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What is your view on heat and humidity, during what time of year would you want to use the property, and what regional amenities (mountain vs ocean vs restaurant/museum/gallery) are most important to you?

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Airbnb will give you pretty nice discounts on monthly rentals (I think technically it is 28 days), that might be the ticket to allow you to scout out a few different locations to see if it's just an itch you want scratched or want to jump in deeper. I just did a sample scan for St. George, Utah for September with multiple places offering 45% discounts.

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Some places have 2 seasons and are desirable in summer and winter. I am a big fan of the mountain states and I think the  Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and Flagstaff are great locations (albeit not cheap). If you don’t mind the Mormons and weak beer, then Utah has great areas too.

 

If using it as a second home, you need to consider airport connectivity too - Flagstaff via PHX works great.

 

Is Flagstaff actually a place to live? I've been there couple times while going to Grand Canyon and IMO it's basically a deserted gateway town with couple hotels for cheap people who don't want to pay up to stay next to Grand Canyon. Pretty zero attractions. Yeah, you can drive to Grand Canyon and Sedona, but ...  ::)

 

I know you hate Phoenix, but Phoenix is actually big enough (actually maybe too big right now) to have restaurants, culture, activities, etc. Flagstaff IMO is dead. Though maybe it has changed in the last 10-15 years since I stayed there.  ::)

 

Well, I went there only once about 10 years on a trip to the mountain states (NM, AZ,  CO, UT) and there at least a few good breweries and mexican restaurants there, so there that.

 

Phoenix as a city is actually OK, as there are  nice areas, but the climate just brutal. We went there in fall and the Thermometer of our showed close to 120F, so it’s basically a hellhole (urban hotspot). Las Vegas is the same. I have complimentary things of Tuscan and the temperature there are much more moderate, but still quite hot.

 

Personally, my favorite from the mountain states is CO.

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Airbnb will give you pretty nice discounts on monthly rentals (I think technically it is 28 days), that might be the ticket to allow you to scout out a few different locations to see if it's just an itch you want scratched or want to jump in deeper. I just did a sample scan for St. George, Utah for September with multiple places offering 45% discounts.

 

Definitely this.

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Some places have 2 seasons and are desirable in summer and winter. I am a big fan of the mountain states and I think the  Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and Flagstaff are great locations (albeit not cheap). If you don’t mind the Mormons and weak beer, then Utah has great areas too.

 

If using it as a second home, you need to consider airport connectivity too - Flagstaff via PHX works great.

 

Is Flagstaff actually a place to live? I've been there couple times while going to Grand Canyon and IMO it's basically a deserted gateway town with couple hotels for cheap people who don't want to pay up to stay next to Grand Canyon. Pretty zero attractions. Yeah, you can drive to Grand Canyon and Sedona, but ...  ::)

 

I know you hate Phoenix, but Phoenix is actually big enough (actually maybe too big right now) to have restaurants, culture, activities, etc. Flagstaff IMO is dead. Though maybe it has changed in the last 10-15 years since I stayed there.  ::)

 

Well, I went there only once about 10 years on a trip to the mountain states (NM, AZ,  CO, UT) and there at least a few good breweries and mexican restaurants there, so there that.

 

Phoenix as a city is actually OK, as there are  nice areas, but the climate just brutal. We went there in fall and the Thermometer of our showed close to 120F, so it’s basically a hellhole (urban hotspot). Las Vegas is the same. I have complimentary things of Tuscan and the temperature there are much more moderate, but still quite hot.

 

Personally, my favorite from the mountain states is CO.

 

I think I agree with you then.

 

Phoenix and Las Vegas have tons of amenities, but climate is brutal.

 

I kinda liked Salt Lake City when we stayed there couple days while doing Canyons-Yellowstone trip. Nice city center. Good veggie restaurants. Not sure if I would like to live there long term with Mormons.

 

I don't remember Colorado that much, but I think Denver and Boulder were fine.

 

I think Albuquerque and Santa Fe are OK too, but not sure about climate.

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Buy the home/condo to live in - and rent the vacation property as/when you need it.

 

SD

 

That depends on how long you live in the vacation property right? I could spend 4 months a year there now that my company allows permanently work from home

 

Not owning the vacation property gives you flexibility to go anywhere, anytime, for any length of time - you are not stuck with the same place. Today you rent a place in Greece for a month, been there, done that. Tomorrow you rent a place in the US desert.

 

There will also be tax considerations. Usually favouring 'home', over 'vacation property', status.

 

SD

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Airbnb will give you pretty nice discounts on monthly rentals (I think technically it is 28 days), that might be the ticket to allow you to scout out a few different locations to see if it's just an itch you want scratched or want to jump in deeper. I just did a sample scan for St. George, Utah for September with multiple places offering 45% discounts.

 

Wow 45% discount? That's insane! I'd love to do that! So if I just go to airbnb and put in a reservation of over 28 days, I'll get this discount?

That sounds really good.

I was initially thinking of buying a vacation home and then later convert it to an airbnb property while I am not there.

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Thank you. What does below MM 30 mean?

What do you do outdoor in Utan, Montana, Wyoming?

 

Shortly after Miami, I-95 turns into US-1. At the top of the Keys you're at around 100 and the end is Key West which is MM0. 100-75MM is basically tourists and fishing heavy, especially the 80's. 75-30MM is pretty much locals. A little blue collar and hick-ish. 30-0MM is probably one of the few candidates for a utopian community in the US, at least that I am aware of. Something for everyone, from culture, to food, to historical stuff. Fishing, diving, partying. People of all shapes, sizing, colors, and orientations coexist and everyone just gets along and wants to live life. Awesome place.

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Airbnb will give you pretty nice discounts on monthly rentals (I think technically it is 28 days), that might be the ticket to allow you to scout out a few different locations to see if it's just an itch you want scratched or want to jump in deeper. I just did a sample scan for St. George, Utah for September with multiple places offering 45% discounts.

 

Wow 45% discount? That's insane! I'd love to do that! So if I just go to airbnb and put in a reservation of over 28 days, I'll get this discount?

That sounds really good.

I was initially thinking of buying a vacation home and then later convert it to an airbnb property while I am not there.

No, it's not Airbnb that gives you the discount. It's all up to the hosts whether they want to give a discount or not. But generally most do and generally it's in the 15-20% range. The 45% discount that Gamecock is seeing is most likely something like 15% normal discount +30% COVID discount.

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Why not buy a place in Sequim or the San Juans? Much drier & sunnier than Seattle, beautiful location and close.

 

The Olympic Rain Shadow is a small region northwest of the city of Seattle which experiences significantly dryer and brighter weather than surrounding locations. The rain shadow encompasses the towns of Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Coupeville, and Victoria BC, as well as much of the San Juan Islands.  For details on climate, precipitation, and an Olympic rain shadow map, see our location page; for current conditions, check our Sequim weather station, or click here for a detailed Sequim weather forecast.

 

Here are some highlights from our days of sunshine studies:

 

Winter (Nov-Jan) saw 5X as many mostly sunny days in the shadow vs. Seattle.

Winter saw only 1/4 as many dreary days in the shadow vs. Seattle.

Spring (Feb-May) saw the highest number of "rain shadow" days per month, at nearly 8!

Summer (Jul-Sep) saw rain shadow areas and Seattle with nearly equal mostly sunny days.

Port Angeles was definitely *in* the rain shadow, with quite similar benefits to Sequim.

Anacortes was on the north eastern fringe of the rain shadow.

 

http://olympicrainshadow.com/

 

 

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Thank you. What does below MM 30 mean?

What do you do outdoor in Utan, Montana, Wyoming?

 

Shortly after Miami, I-95 turns into US-1. At the top of the Keys you're at around 100 and the end is Key West which is MM0. 100-75MM is basically tourists and fishing heavy, especially the 80's. 75-30MM is pretty much locals. A little blue collar and hick-ish. 30-0MM is probably one of the few candidates for a utopian community in the US, at least that I am aware of. Something for everyone, from culture, to food, to historical stuff. Fishing, diving, partying. People of all shapes, sizing, colors, and orientations coexist and everyone just gets along and wants to live life. Awesome place.

 

I looked at this briefly and you are looking at ~500k for a fairly crummy Appartement and who knows how much for a house. RIP if you get a hit by a hurricane. I wonder what the insurance is for a house there?

 

Also, for Muscleman, it would be a bit far from Seattle.

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Airbnb will give you pretty nice discounts on monthly rentals (I think technically it is 28 days), that might be the ticket to allow you to scout out a few different locations to see if it's just an itch you want scratched or want to jump in deeper. I just did a sample scan for St. George, Utah for September with multiple places offering 45% discounts.

 

Wow 45% discount? That's insane! I'd love to do that! So if I just go to airbnb and put in a reservation of over 28 days, I'll get this discount?

That sounds really good.

I was initially thinking of buying a vacation home and then later convert it to an airbnb property while I am not there.

No, it's not Airbnb that gives you the discount. It's all up to the hosts whether they want to give a discount or not. But generally most do and generally it's in the 15-20% range. The 45% discount that Gamecock is seeing is most likely something like 15% normal discount +30% COVID discount.

 

So if I try to book something like 28 days, do I have to contact the host to negotiate the discount or does airbnb automatically applies the discount?

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Thank you. What does below MM 30 mean?

What do you do outdoor in Utan, Montana, Wyoming?

 

Shortly after Miami, I-95 turns into US-1. At the top of the Keys you're at around 100 and the end is Key West which is MM0. 100-75MM is basically tourists and fishing heavy, especially the 80's. 75-30MM is pretty much locals. A little blue collar and hick-ish. 30-0MM is probably one of the few candidates for a utopian community in the US, at least that I am aware of. Something for everyone, from culture, to food, to historical stuff. Fishing, diving, partying. People of all shapes, sizing, colors, and orientations coexist and everyone just gets along and wants to live life. Awesome place.

 

I looked at this briefly and you are looking at ~500k for a fairly crummy Appartement and who knows how much for a house. RIP if you get a hit by a hurricane. I wonder what the insurance is for a house there?

 

Also, for Muscleman, it would be a bit far from Seattle.

 

Ive got a condo in Tavernier(basically where they filmed NFLX's Bloodline)$550k for 3/2 with $600 or so monthly maintenance and $4k a year in taxes. 90 minutes from Miami and 90 minutes from Key West. You'd be surprised about how differently the buildings down there are constructed. While the palm trees and docks get messed up bad, that buildings are typically capable of withstanding up to 200 mph winds. For instance Earnest Hemingway's home from the 1920s(originally built in the 1800s) is still good and well. It survived the big one in the 30's and it survived the big one a couple years back.

 

As for muscleman, its just a suggestion. This is probably(even from what friends in the area tell me currently in a covid world), one of the most AirBNB able areas in the country. If you can "swing" working remotely, perhaps even a quote on quote, full time residence, for tax purposes, thats another benefit. Although like me, I doubt one would easily be able to go from Seattle weather to South Florida without an adjustment period.

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Depends on a lot. What do you fancy? If you just want sunshine, and have a little cash, Key West/below MM 30 area of FL Keys is unlike anywhere else in the US. If its outdoorsy stuff, a little bit of money(for coastal high earners) can get you a ton in places like Utah, Montana, Wyoming. If it's a combination of things, and perhaps tax related, look at the NV side of Lake Tahoe.

 

Thank you. What does below MM 30 mean?

What do you do outdoor in Utan, Montana, Wyoming?

 

Shortly after Miami, I-95 turns into US-1. At the top of the Keys you're at around 100 and the end is Key West which is MM0. 100-75MM is basically tourists and fishing heavy, especially the 80's. 75-30MM is pretty much locals. A little blue collar and hick-ish. 30-0MM is probably one of the few candidates for a utopian community in the US, at least that I am aware of. Something for everyone, from culture, to food, to historical stuff. Fishing, diving, partying. People of all shapes, sizing, colors, and orientations coexist and everyone just gets along and wants to live life. Awesome place.

 

You still haven't explained what "MM" means? Maybe I'm just dense, but MM30 doesn't mean anything to me.  Is it a road?

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its the mile marker as you drive down US 1 towards key west.

 

Ah,  Thanks. I've never been to the FL Keys.  I've got to get down there someday.

 

Yea, everything down there is referenced by mile marker since the entire collection of islands is only accessible via one road, which is US-1.

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