Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

Having a Second Home
by Nancy J. Cohen

Having a second home can be a burden or a joy. You’re responsible for taxes, insurance, and homeowners’ association fees along with utilities and other expenses. We bought a condo in Orlando after years of visiting our kids in school there and afterward when they’d graduated and found jobs. We’d gotten tired of staying in hotel rooms where we often had to wait until check-in time for our room to be ready. Then we’d endure a wheezy air-conditioning system, wondering when the filter had been changed last. The bathroom tub shower was never comfortable, especially if it had a moldy curtain instead of a glass door. So we decided to get our own place.

I’ve always considered our condo as a private weekend retreat. A four-hour drive from our main house, it would be a place we could call home as we visited our adult children or went to Disney World. Our place is a mere fifteen minutes from this theme park to which we hold annual passes. So we’re here at least every other month. This central location is also a good jumping-off point for places north. We stay here for a night on our way somewhere else. We’ll also stay here when I attend a writing conference in the area. So the place serves multiple uses. Even our kids come here to rest when they spend a day at Disney.

But a second home sometimes can be more of a burden. Friends of ours, a retired couple, recently sold their condo in Michigan. They only went up there two weeks a year. The rest of the time, their place was rented out. It was like having a time-share. Having sold it, now they can rent somebody else’s unit if they still want to visit, but without the burden of ownership.

A second home may also make you feel obligated to take vacations there, which means you’ll miss out on seeing other parts of the world. So this is something else to consider. Also, how easy will be it to sell once you tire of the payments and responsibility?

Our place works out well for us right now. In the future, we shall see what adjustments we’ll have to make. Since the condo is near Disney, it’s still a desirable location.

How do you feel about second homes? Do you have one, is it something you’d love to have, or would you not harbor the idea under any circumstances?