Should You Rent or Own Your Own Home Away From Home?

After ditching the humdrum of an everyday office job to develop a successful online fitness platform, I found out that working for yourself does not automatically afford you all the free time in the world to explore and travel like I’d hoped—at least, not initially. I spent several years building up a clientele until I had enough of a base to employ others to take care of the day-to-day practices that kept it in business.

As soon as I was able to spend less time focusing constantly on my platform, I started prioritizing the activities that filled up my limited free time: and there’s absolutely no activity that I take more seriously than getting into the great outdoors and camping. However, even with the extra help, I realized that I’d have to streamline my “outdoor” time if I wanted to get the most out of it. Eventually, I decided to invest in some mountain and desert properties that allowed me to escape into the wilderness whenever I had the time, while also creating some passive income for me whenever I rented them out to others looking for a weekend getaway of their own. 

To Rent, or to Own?

At first, I wasn’t interested in anything but renting on a weekend for myself, and this might be what’s best for you, too; at least, at first. If you’re looking for total variety—and to never be tied down to anyone given region for your personal getaways—then you’re probably better off renting a place whenever you need it, in the area that you’d like to enjoy. For instance, if you’re not in love with what one particular area has to offer—and unless you live within a couple-hour drive of the property—you could wind up tying yourself down to a headache rather than a hideaway. A few questions to ask yourself before “yes” to the “weekend mess” might include: 

  • Who will maintain the house in between rentals? 
  • How will you make sure it isn’t trashed by tenants? 
  • How will you ensure that squatters don’t take over if it’s vacant for a few weeks? 
  • How will you keep out the local wildlife?

Fortunately for me, I was interested in certain specific areas, with the vast amenities they had to offer, and they happened to be located well within a three-hour drive to me. It might seem like a lot to some, but I’m an early riser, and my “isolated outdoor time” is precious to me. As far as how I’d maintain the properties, before I purchased anything, I contacted local, reputable property management companies to see what sort of services they had to offer, to keep the burden from falling solely on my shoulders. 

Investing in a Hideaway

Before investing in some properties myself, I was fairly conditioned to think that the only people who owned rental homes were billionaires with expensive beachfront homes along Huntington Beach in California or something—I never dreamed that it would be an enterprise I could afford, and much less turn a profit at. Aside from that, as much as I love surfing and other water sports, I never find myself flying out to the coast on a weekend I can spare: instead, you’ll catch me hitching up my custom camp trailer and heading out to the mountains or desert for a little rest and relaxation. In general, I like to be away from the “hustle and bustle” whenever I take a break from the hustling and bustling myself. I did a little digging, however, and found that certain types of mountain properties would indeed be an affordable and lucrative investment.

I made a point of setting appointments with several of the top rental owners in the regions I was most interested in owning, and learned what it takes to “make or break ” a mountain rental home. When I finally bit the bullet and invested in my own “getaway cabin,” and rented it out on off weeks, this is what I discovered:

  • My mountain rental attracts 3-day bookings, but few weekly.
  • I deal with a shorter rental season (assuming there’s no skiing in the area).
  • Most of the tenants have been clean and respectful—the area itself attracts the studious and pensive, and far less of the less (for better or worse) of the “partiers” that prefer rentals by the waterfront. 

Of course, this analysis is anecdotal to my own property, but the other mountain homeowners that I’d interviewed reported much of the same. The following aren’t necessarily cons or even qualms, but they are something to consider before you invest. Although I purchased properties thinking they’d be sources of pure relaxation to me, they were indeed investments, and as such, they required the following:

  • Time: since I mostly manage the property myself, I spend several hours a month on paperwork.
  • Maintenance: at least once a quarter, I visit with the express intent to paint, shop, and repair
  • Cleaning: the absolute most important component of making a rental work, are your cleaners. I employ someone thorough, honest, and reliable, and pay them well above the market. Since I am not available every weekend, and certainly not after every time someone rents the home, I need to rely on capable hands that aren’t mine. Your cleaning personnel can ensure an excellent rating for you on social platforms. They deserve every ounce of respect and support you can muster. 

Trading Places

Whenever I do have the chance to be up in the mountains hiking, or out in the desert off-roading, my rental properties make it possible to spend as much time as possible enjoying myself without having to set up a base camp out in the middle of nowhere. Aside from the passive income that each property creates for me whenever they’re rented out, I rest easy knowing that I’m sharing each home with responsible and thoughtful tenants; bringing joy to countless people who may not be able to afford a vacation home of their own. All in all, renting a vacation spot is a blast—but owning one that you rent out yourself is extremely rewarding, in more ways than one.  

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