What Do You Think about a Second Home?

by Jeff C. Johnson

House near water's edge at sunset

A second home is a dream for many people as they consider their retirement years, especially for those of us in the frozen north who love the idea of sunshine and no snow all winter.

I’ve owned a second home for many years, and I enjoy it. But it is definitely not for everyone.

Many of my clients have retired, bought a second home, and then sold it a few years later (sometimes at a loss). They find it’s expensive (utilities, repairs and upkeep, property taxes) on top of the expenses of their primary residence. And it can be limiting—sometimes you feel like rather than vacationing or traveling elsewhere, you must use the second home.

Still, for others like me, it’s a home away from home. After a while, you become connected with the community, making friends and becoming involved socially. You establish a favorite grocery store and restaurant, find a church, a doctor, a dentist, etc.

Sometimes I am asked if there is one key element to enjoying a second home. In my opinion, it’s the ease with which you can travel to and from the home. I’m not retired, so it would be impossible for me to enjoy a place that’s difficult to get to. But even in retirement, a hard-to-reach spot doesn’t get as much use and is often a less-than-satisfactory experience.

I endorse a second home for some of my clients after a candid discussion about expenses and travel preferences. But a second home is not for everyone.


If you are contemplating retirement and a second home, consider your life-after-work by reading chapter 2 of my book The Extreme Retirement Planning Workbook, and think about what you would do with your time if work was a thing of the past.