Vacation Homes: Buy or Rent?

The Dilemma

Feb 16, 2010
Outside Magazine

There's no easy answer—until now. Respond to these questions honestly and the numbers won't lie.

How many weeks per year will you realistically be there?
Less than three (–2)
Three to four (+1)
Four-plus (+3)
A season (+4)

Will you rent out your vacation home when not in use?
Yes (+2)
No (0)
Of course—that's why I'm doing this (–3)

How long do you see yourself owning this property?
Until I can trade up (–3)
Maybe five to ten years (0)
I'm gonna retire there (+4)
It will go to my children (+5)

When spending big money, you:
Break out in hives (–2)
Lose a little sleep (0)
Feel like a god! (+3)

Which best describes a dream week at your new pad?
Spending every minute possible outside (–1)
Cooking big meals and chilling on the deck (+1)
Planting tomatoes and chopping wood (+2)
Framing out the new barn (+4)

Your favorite outdoor gear:
Fits in your daypack (0)
Requires special handling at the airport (+1)
Barely fits in your garage (+3)

What your score means:
6 or under: You should rent
7–10: You could go either way
11–17: Time to apply for that pre-approved mortgage
18-plus: This is your third home, isn't it?