Anyone here retire in two homes

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Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Petrocelli » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:26 pm

My wife and I are planning for retirement. We were thinking of selling our house and buying two less expensive houses. For example, one for summer (like Lake Tahoe) and one for winter (like Palm Springs area). Has anyone done something like this? If so, what are the pros and cons? Thanks.
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:32 pm

Petrocelli wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:26 pm
My wife and I are planning for retirement. We were thinking of selling our house and buying two less expensive houses. For example, one for summer (like Lake Tahoe) and one for winter (like Palm Springs area). Has anyone done something like this? If so, what are the pros and cons? Thanks.
Assuming you can afford it (or you wouldn't be considering it!), the main downside I can think of is the maintenance and oversight of the home you aren't living in for an extended period of time.

Even if you have someone checking up regularly, would you trust them to select a plumber or approve repair costs?
What if something really bizarre happened, like a tree crashing into your house during a big storm?
(We *almost* had that happen while we were away. Our housesitter sent photos, and most of the house was untouched, but that was not pleasant, even with very minimal damage... which still needed a bit of immediate attention.)

I suppose this problem could be mitigated somewhat by getting condo's, so there would be superintendent types to oversee things, plus much of the structure would be maintained by the association.
But you might not want that, or would that perhaps work?

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by nfs » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:22 pm

Not retired, but we have snowbird neighbors who have shared feelings on the topic.

One couple says they are planning to switch back to one home (if they can decide on the right destination) because they feel they are constantly doing maintenance and projects.

Another couple built a new (smallish) home in Arizona to spend winters and some weekends at... they decided it's too hard to have all the right things at both homes and find it frustrating to have to buy so many duplicates. They are going to move full time, but will be building a larger home since they'll want more space for guests and entertaining if they are there full time.

I imagine many people do this successfully, but I think it depends on your personality and the reasons for wanting 2 homes.

Good luck!

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:48 pm

The extra costs are the main liabilities.

For several years I had a house in the east and a vacation house in the west. The vacation house was in a townhouse community which mitigated the maintenance problems.

Insurance is a particular issue. If a house is unoccupied for long periods you will need to meet insurer's requirements for regular checkups. Other things are manageable but require planning.

Financially it is not a great idea. But at some point you do what you want.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by 22twain » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:53 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:32 pm
oversight of the home you aren't living in for an extended period of time.
That was what led my parents to sell their house in Ohio after doing the snowbird thing for five years with an apartment they bought in Florida. At first they could arrange for a friend or relative (e.g. one of my uncles) to check on the house regularly, have the sidewalk shoveled, etc. Eventually those people either died or moved away, at which point my parents moved to a rented apartment in the same town. After five years of that, they gave up the Ohio apartment and took up full-time residence in Florida.
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by sport » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:01 pm

Of course, an alternative is to own a house in one place for most of the year and rent space for the remainder of the year in the other place. In my area, many people seem to own their home here and rent in Florida for the winter months.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by msk » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:08 pm

In my 50s/60s I did tolerate keeping a second home. In my 70s Nope! Find a nice apartment-hotel at the second location and be done. In my 80s (not yet) I can foresee nil interest in travel.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by GaryEsq » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:12 pm

We have owned two homes for the last 14 years, our residence in New England and a vacation home in Florida. It is quite possibly the smartest move we ever made because looking forward to monthly hops to Florida was the only thing that got us through the New England winters.
We started out in a 2 bedroom condo which served our needs for 12 years, but when we started seriously talking about retirement we decided that because we would be spending more time in Florida, that we would prefer a house instead of a condo so we bought a house in 2016.
As far as fixed expenses go, we have taxes, insurance, utilities, common charges and lawn and pool maintenance which run about $9-10,000.00/yr.
We have some really great next door neighbors that keep an eye on our place when we aren't there and have been an invaluable source of information for any other services we may need.

It may not be for everyone but personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by aspirit » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:18 pm

As with any housing commitment renting something initially for a season or two offers many otherwise overlooked factors, bargains & insights. :happy Good luck!
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by HIinvestor » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:31 pm

We have acquaintances who have done/are doing this. It is something that makes them happy while they’re doing it until it doesn’t and they settle on one place. To us, it’s too much work and we rather just nest and travel and stay where we want. Ymmv.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by tennisplyr » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:16 am

Many people do it, I guess you have to be OK both psychologically and financially. What we did was own our place in NY and snowbirded for several months in FL....the best of both worlds without dual ownership. We then sold and moved to FL. You may want to try that route.
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by RickBoglehead » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:27 am

For most of our lives we never wanted two places. A few years back, we took over and ultimately inherited a second place. Maintenance and upkeep, the concern about "what if this happens" aren't worth the psychological toll in our opinion.

We will be retiring in a few years. Our plan at this point is to sell both places, buy 1 place, spend most of the year there, and then travel. It would be equipped with cameras, and as much as possible controlled via the internet. It would also have advanced water-shutoff capabilities (ability to turn off, drain house or keep on minimal service, or auto shutoff if failure detected) for peace of mind.
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by kacang » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:59 am

Retiring soon. We considered getting a 2nd home where majority of our family is, for our regular visits and having a property manager to manage it as a short-term rental/airbnb out while we're not there. But the hassle put us off and we decided to just rent/airbnb for our visits instead.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:05 am

With two homes, does the state of domicile become the home where you spend the greatest number of days per year? or can that vary from year to year?
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Nowizard » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:09 am

We have had two homes in the type setting you describe. Due to maintenance issues and just the feeling that we "Should" be using the second home more frequently, we sold the secondary home. We currently rent a second one. It is much more satisfying to not have maintenance issues. Also, the new tax laws would have meant we would no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest since we are among those who have chosen to retain a mortgage though we are fortunate enough to not have to do so.


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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by RickBoglehead » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:13 am

Each state has their own rules. You need to investigate what they are.

The IRS determines your primary residence as the residence you spend the most time in.

A state determines what income is taxable based on their rules.

You can determine what your primary domicile is by where you register to vote, have your mail sent to, etc. You may find that your determination doesn't sync up with a state or the IRS though.
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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Watty » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:30 am

A lot of people do this when they snowbird in places like Florida or Arizona.

You can likely Google snowbirding tips but one big issue is where your primary residence legally is since that can determine which state your pay taxes in and car registration. Avoiding becoming a tax resident may require that you only spend a certain number of days in a state and if something comes up like you are sick and your plans change then you could inadvertently become a tax resident if you spend too many days in the state.

In some areas there can be property tax exemptions that only owner occupied house get so you would need to check to see if you would qualify for that.

Getting your mail would be another issue to look into. Where your retirement account statements are mailed to can be important since that may be linked to which state the 1099 tax information is sent to.

You would need to figure out how you would get medical and dental care in both locations.

You should also check your home insurance since some insurance companies may have limitations on leaving a house vacant for more than 30 days because it makes problems with things like water leaks and vandalism more likely. There have been threads on this that you might be able to find. As I recall with some companies you need to buy an inexpensive rider, or you may need to change to a company with better terms.
Petrocelli wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:26 pm
For example, one for summer (like Lake Tahoe) and one for winter (like Palm Springs area).
One problem with those locations is that both of them would be difficult to live in year round when you are older if you get tired of living in two places and want to settle down in just one location. You might pick somewhere that you would be willing to live year round as one of the locations.

You might also be a long way from a good hospital when you are at Lake Tahoe so be sure to check on that. For example if you had a heart attack and needed to be taken all the way to Reno for care that could be a problem. I know people that moved for retirement and then moved again when they realized that the local health care was not adequate.

A lot of people have places in Lake Tahoe mainly for mainly for snow skiing. I would think that you could easily find someone that would want to rent out their place for five or six months out of the year during the summer since that is not the prime ski season. You could buy a place at Palm Springs and rent for the summer in Lake Tahoe.

If you buy a place at lake Tahoe then you could also rent it when you are not there. When I was in my 20s I lived in the Bay Area and was in a group of people that rented a ski house for the Winter each year at Lake Tahoe or Truckee. We did not really abuse the houses so there was never any real damage but I am sure that having it used by a group of people in their 20s all winter was hard on the house so that might not be something you would want to do with your retirement home. One thing to watch out for is that having a rental house in a ski area can be risky since if the snow is bad that year then you will have a lot of vacancies. I don't know what it is like now but when we rented it for the entire season we usually got a really good rate since we were taking the risk that it would be a bad snow year. The owners also always seemed rally happy to have it rented for the season so they did not need to deal with individual rentals all season long. As I recall the owner was responsible for having the snow in the driveway plowed and removed from the roof if it needed that after an unusually heavy snow. At Lake Tahoe parking is a critical factor in what makes a house desirable, consider how many guests you might have and where they can park their cars.

One thing to consider is that a lot of places at Lake Tahoe are rental properties. If you spend the summer there each week you could have different groups of renters next door all summer long.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by leeks » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:36 am

Do you have any friends/family in those places? I think it would be hard to try to develop new social networks in two different places if you haven't lived in either before or have existing relationships there. I have observed that the retired family/friends in our circle who seem most satisfied are those that have a strong social network where they live - or in at least one of the places they live if they have two homes. Some seem to really enjoy two homes in part because it is nice to be close to family sometimes and sometimes it is nice to be far away. Most of the ones we know with a second home have either already owned that home or visited that place for many years before retirement, so they already have a community of friends there.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Gnirk » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:23 pm

We’ve had two homes for 20 years. We kept our primary home in the Puget Sound area, and bought a much smaller home in an over 55 community in the Palm Springs area, to escape the wet, dreary northwest winters. Both of our homes are in gated communities, so we feel fairly comfortable leaving them for months at a time.

Because the hot, dry desert air can be very hard on homes and furnishings, there are some preventive steps to take: we keep a five-gallon bucket of water in each room of the desert house when we aren’t there from May through October. We also have a woman check the house once a week. She turns the water on to the house, flushes the toilets, runs the dishwasher, and drives the car around the neighborhood. I pay her $50 per month during those months, which is much less than two roundTrip air tickets to fly down in July and check out the house in the 114 degree heat!

Last year we had to replace the furnace and air conditioning, and this year we are replacing the dishwasher. We’ve had the exterior and interior painted once, and the exterior probably could use another freshening in the next year or so.

Annual taxes, utilities, HOA dues, insurance, pest control spraying and yard maintenance total about $10K for our desert home. We spend about 5 1/2 months in the desert. If we were to rent, it would cost us s12-15 thousand per year.
I hope this is helpful for you.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Flashes1 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:42 pm

If you have the money, two houses would be fun in retirement. I'm still a few years from retirement, but I've given a lot of thought to owning a home in the mountains of TN, and renting a house for 3 months in Florida from Jan-Mar. I do worry the rental prices for the homes I would want to live in for 3 months might be higher than I want to spend......however, property taxes look a lot lower in TN than FL....that could save me some money that I could spend on a FL rental.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by btenny » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:16 pm

I have been retired for 19 years. I have had two homes for fifteen years. We summer in Tahoe and winter in Phoenix but also go back and forth other times. We love it and it has been wonderful and fun. It is expensive and time consuming to get stuff fixed and keep both places in good shape. We probably spent the first 5 years buying second duplicate items and extra stuff to get the "second house" stocked. The key for us is good help for things like lawn care, snow removal, spa cleaning, inside plant watering and house checks when we are not home. For us health care is a challenge as Tahoe has limited and variable quality resources. Plus the altitude in Tahoe is becoming an issue now that we are in our 70s. TBD if we will keep going back and forth regularly as we get older.

Also note we travel to lots of other places to visit friends and kids and see things. So we are on the go a lot as that is our lifestyle.

Good Luck.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by btenny » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:05 pm

Other things I have found about having two homes in retirement.

1. You cannot rent a good quality condo or home for only 3-6 months and expect to be able to rent it again next year. There is just too much competition for rentals from people who rent year round or vacation rent at really high prices for two prime weeks. SO you have to rent a place year round and expect to pay rent year round even if you only use it 4-5 months. This can make renting as expensive as owning. So compare costs carefully.

2. DO not expect to vacation rent your second home when you are not there. Yes there are some places where that works but lots of others where it is not legal. Whole towns and HOA areas have stopped or are stopping any vacation renting. South Lake Tahoe just voted in a complete stop for vacation renting outside hotels. So there are 1200 or so people with big expensive houses that will have to stop renting them. Many other areas in coastal California have stopped this as well.

3. Taxes and residency are complicated. If you have rental income or investments sourced in one state you will have to pay taxes to that state for that stuff even if you are a resident of another state. Income sources drive a lot of tax issues so you need to talk to your accountant about this issue before moving to that low/no tax state with the hope of saving on taxes.

4. Social security and retirement benefits and other income ties to your mailing address for IRS and state tax purposes. That address becomes your residence as far as the IRS is concerned.

5. Again two addresses is complicated for tax and mail issues if you cross state lines.

6. Medicare and Medigap and drugs insurance does not recognize snow birding or RV lifestyles if you live in more than one state. Plus the costs for that stuff varies by state. So you will have to pick a mailing address location and declare that as your home for that stuff and get it on a recorded line with the agent that you will use it in multiple states. This is the only way I can see to make sure they honor their state rules. And in our case we "manage" the mail forwarding when we are not there to make sure we get all the necessary mail. Also be aware that some official mail is not forwarded. So things like jury duty and absentee voting ballots and medicine may not be forwarded and you may not get them on time if at all.

Good Luck.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by enjoyinglife » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:42 pm

I'm doing it and love it. If you don't know or want to ask your neighbors to watch over the house(s) you can always get a home watch/maintanance company to do property checks. The Different "smart" devices functionally is great as you can monitor both homes from your phone

For expenses we rent the one house for about 8 weeks a year in the peak season which covers all the yearly operating costs (taxes, insurance, utilities, maintanance, etc). We still have plenty of remaining time to enjoy that house. The other Benefit of renting is we've found that the realtor is a great resource for qualified, fairly priced contractors if we need them.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by Boomer01 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:06 am

After reading about it on here a while back, my wife and I have fell in love with the idea of downsizing to a smaller house/condo in our hometown and renting a house in another location 3-6 months out of the year. There is nothing to hold us to one location, so we can explore the US or even world for up to 6 months of the year. We are many years away from retirement, but it has generated some excitement for the future.

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Re: Anyone here retire in two homes

Post by jabbahop » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:56 am

This is our second year retired with two homes. Most of the financial side of things we had anticipated. The things that I underestimated were:

1) health insurance and doctor network complications since we are not yet on medicare. Having to find two sets of docs that are in network is some work. Then exchanging health records takes some coordination.

2) in some communities social networks are more difficult to establish and maintain when you leave for part of the year.

3) “stuff management” our two homes are 2500 miles apart so we opted to have pretty much two sets of household items. It wasn’t a big expense since we purchased our winter home fully furnished. There are still times when we realize what we are looking for is in the other location (waffle iron, moutain bike, suit for funeral, etc.)

4) Kids (in college) visiting the new winter location where they don’t have their friends around.

5) home repairs sometimes come in bunches and unfortunately last year BOTH places had some expensive repairs needed.

On the pros side

1) Weather allowing us to be active outside was a big motivator for having two places. It has been even better than expected.

2) My wife was able to quickly establish a strong social network in our winter community which in many ways is stronger than our “home” turf where most of her friends still work.

3) we don’t need to spend money on escape vacations during the winter

4) both our winter and summer locations have very small inventory of rentals and we have a dog so not sure renting would have been a viable option though financially it would probably be superior if possible.

Who knows if we will still feel like doing this in 10 years but so far so good.

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