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Second Homes: A Big Decision

By Peter Keers January 19, 2024 Lifestyle

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the popularity of second homes jumped due to low mortgage interest rates and the surge in working remotely. Higher rates have dampened the mortgage market, but the interest in second homes continues as people look for:

  • A retreat from everyday life
  • A future retirement location
  • A way to be closer to family
  • An investment or income option

However, establishing a second home is a big decision with several moving parts.

Second Home: What Is It?

The term “second home” assumes you’re splitting your time between two or more locations. (For this blog, we’ll consider two homes, a main and a second.) Also, buying a property purely to rent out doesn’t fit the definition. You have to live there part of the year to bestow the title of “second home.”

Also, our definition can include a home you rent or own. When someone rents the same property for the same months year after year, it’s easy to think about it as a second home.

Additionally, a second home can take a variety of forms, such as:

  • House
  • Condominium or apartment
  • Cooperative
  • Mobile/manufactured home
  • Recreational vehicle or trailer
  • Boat

Boats and RVs might seem unconventional as a second home, but the IRS considers each a “qualified home,” assuming they have sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities.

Note also that ownership can be full or partial. Additionally, instead of owning a second home, you could have contractual rights to use the home for a specified period, such as a timeshare. And, of course, there are rentals where you aren’t the owner.

Finally, second homes differ based on the amount of time you stay there. Tax laws can be a factor. States with income tax want to make sure residents with second homes pay state taxes if they primarily live in the state.

Another factor can be the form of ownership. Full owners can stay in the home anytime they choose. However, partial owners are restricted by contract to specified periods or number of days. The same is true for timeshare contracts that govern the amount of time that can be spent at the property.

So, if this defines a second home, what are the reasons for wanting one?

Second Home: Why?

As mentioned before, there are several reasons why you might want a second home. Let’s look at each in detail.


A second home might be a vacation or weekend destination, or it can also be your home for months at a time.

Also, a second home might be devoted entirely to leisure, a remote work location, or a combination of both. Regardless of the amount of time or how you spend your time, there are other motivations for wanting a second home:

  • Better weather
  • Lifestyle differences such as city versus country living
  • Geography features like mountains versus the beach
  • Entertainment opportunities like performing arts or sports


A second home initially used for vacations can evolve into one’s primary home in retirement. This gives a chance to experience a community before committing to it full-time. Also, it allows you to establish a social network there before retirement.

Closer to Family

A second home might be in one’s hometown, where other family members live. Also, a second home might be a vacation destination for the extended family.

Investment/Income Opportunity

A second home usually represents a real estate asset that changes up or down in value. (Boats and RVs are the exception since they generally depreciate.) Real estate has been an excellent long-term investment in the U.S. over the past few decades so that a second home could yield a profit in the long run.

A second home can also generate income as a rental. Many families can afford a second home by renting their property via Airbnb or VRBO for part of the year.

This overview of the “what” and “why” questions of establishing a second home merely scratches the surface of this complicated subject. Future blogs will cover more details to help you prepare for this big decision.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are your views on second homes? Have you thought about acquiring one? Even if you don’t have the finances for it, what would you dream it to be or look like?

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We bought a second home and it is expensive. It is very far away from home base and it is located in a more expensive area of the country. It is closer to my son and DIL and their soon to be baby!


Well, we’ve just invested in a condo in our favorite vacation places…where we can just stop& chill out, but we also hope to make some money on it from rentals too.

Renee Lovitz

I had a second home for years. Used it as a retreat sometime and rented it out other times. When my husband needed care at home, I used it as a getaway to go get some sleep sometimes. When he died I sold it, but it served a purpose for years.


My first post disappeared, my second try in case the first one magically appears again.

Growing up, my parents had a second home in Lake Tahoe; it was close to the lake and amazing for kids, and we used it often. Looking back, the kids had a great time, but my folks were always working on the house. Updating, repairing, refreshing and we spent the last day cleaning for hours. They left the Bay Area and moved to a mountain wine country home from retirement to their deaths. The Tahoe place was rarely used since they also lived in the mountains. It is still in the family and used maybe four times a year.

As young married people working crazy long hours, we had a share in a home on the Oregon coast and had four weeks a year. We used those weeks for the first few years, but then we found we didn’t like going to the same place all the time. So, we sold our share.

Home vacation rentals work best for us now so we can go to different places with our family. If I had the money, my dream would be to own the home we rent a few times a year on Cannon Beach. Straight on view of Haystack Rock from all three of the master suites. Great for family gatherings or just us two. I feel so at peace there.


Cannon Beach is so lovely! One of my favorite places on earth.

Vanya Drumchiyska

Hi Deb,
Thank you for commenting! Sometimes responses need manual approval before appearing publicly on the website. We monitor the pending queue daily, so even if a comment doesn’t appear right away, it will a bit later.
Wishing you a beautiful day!


We have had a second home for over 10 years. It’s a manufactured home near the beach 2 1/2 hours from our main home. We love it and travel to it monthly for long weekend stays. We love the change of scenery, restaurants and of course the beach. It’s an affordable option that brings us a whole different layer to our life. We lucked into a deal when we bought it and have fixed it up gradually over the years. The family uses it also and it gives them a free place to stay for getaways. Modest but wonderful. Wouldn’t trade it for the world!

The Author

Peter Keers is a writer and video blogger focusing on topics for the over-50 audience. Defining himself as a curious seeker, Peter’s interests range across both the art and the science of living an authentic and fulfilling life in the 21st century. See Peter’s eBooks on travel, long-term care, Medicare and other topics at

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