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Vacation homes - a good investment?

My wife and I debated purchasing a vacation home for a number of years.  We eventually decided not to because we did not want to be tied to vacationing in a particular spot.  We were concerned about the cost, but that was secondary to deciding if we really even wanted the home.  In today's Wall Street Journal, there is an interesting article that talks about the financial return on a vacation home.  The author concludes that:

If you spend 9% a year and get long-term gains of 6.4%, that leaves a 2.6% gap. That's the true cost of owning your own vacation home, and a number to compare to the cost of renting a place instead.

Of course we're not even counting the cost of furnishings and incidentals. But then a rental is rarely as pleasant as your own place. They are also harder to get in peak season, or at short notice.

From a quick look at MLS listings, I would need to spend at least $150,000, but more realistically, $200,000 to purchase a vacation home in Utah.  Based on the 2.6% figure quote above, I would need to value the home at $5200/year.  I could rent a similar home for a month. 

Every time I look at the purchase versus rent question, it comes out to be better to rent.  Maybe I should be catching on to something.


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