I just returned from a quick trip to paradise. My husband and I have owned timeshare property for more than 10 years now and for our family, it was the right decision. But this year as I was floating around the lazy river I got to thinking about the benefits of a vacation home vs a timeshare.
The primary reason we chose a timeshare was because we love to travel to Aruba. We know we will return almost every year and we love having the resort-stay, maintenance free experience. Our property is a Marriott property, so it also allows us flexibility in trading. In fact, a few years ago we were able to use our ownership to go on a Mediterranean cruise (HIGHLY RECOMMEND). Our kids love traveling to our “home base” at the Surf Club in Aruba. The staff even remembers them from year to year as they have watched them grow up.
So why do timeshares get such a bad rap? The primary reason is simple: It is pretty much a given that your timeshare will decrease rather than increase in value over time. If you are considering a timeshare purchase, it’s very important to be certain you will return on a regular basis. For us, we think of the ownership and maintenance fees as a sort of vacation savings account.
What are the benefits of purchasing a vacation home instead?
- Maintenance expenses- While there certainly are expenses related to vacation property ownership, you ultimately have a bit more control over them than you do in a timeshare situation. You can choose to hire a maintenance person or take a more DIY approach. With timeshares, annual maintenance fees could be quite costly and tend to only move in one direction (up).
- Usage- If you own a vacation property, you have the ability to visit whenever you wish and for however long you’d like. If you are not renting out your property, you could also decide to visit on a moment’s notice and for however long or short of a time that your schedule allows. In a timeshare, you will need to book in advance, potentially with limited days/times available, and for a set amount of time. In a traditional timeshare situation, it may even be a specific week(s) each year. However a common misconception is that all timeshares are only usable on a predetermined week(s) each year. While this is true of some, it’s much less common than it once was. Mine, for example, can be used any time from April-December and can be traded for other months, as well. But again- this requires some advance planning and offers less flexibility.
- Resale value- If you’re purchasing as much for an investment as you are for pleasure/vacation benefits, a vacation home/condo of your own will reap greater benefits in the long run. You will have control over maintenance, upgrades, improvements, rental opportunities and ultimately have a greater likelihood of making a profit over time.
- The Covid effect- When you are in a timeshare community, you will be subject to their rules and regulations relative to safety protocols, testing and potentially vaccination status, as well. Depending how much travel is necessary for you to make it to your vacation home, these things still may come into play. But once you are on your own property, you can choose what precautions to take for your own comfort and that of your guests. You make the rules.
Truth be told, considering all those factors it’s hard to make a case in favor of timeshares over a vacation home of your own. I guess the main reason for me is that I know even if I could afford a vacation home, I could NEVER afford my own lazy river.
If you’re interested in hearing more about my personal experience with timeshares and/or if you’re considering getting into the market for a vacation home, I’d love to help.