Imagine this: After being cooped up in your home during the winter and being unable to travel anywhere, you decided you had had enough and began to think about spending your time differently. 

  • Perhaps you would spend the winters in Florida, working remotely, enjoying beach and the pool, playing golf and pickle ball, or tennis.  
  • You considered renting an apartment for 3-4 months.
  • Obviously, wintertime is prime time in Florida, so rents are higher than other times of the year, but the pandemic has caused rents to be even higher as many people have wanted to leave cities like Chicago and New York in favor of a warmer climate.  

In this post, I will focus on some of the pros and cons of renting verses buying when you think you have had enough isolation in a cold climate. This scenario is about renting and buying domestically. Many of my other posts include international considerations, but this is about staying here in the US. 

Renting 

To rent a relatively small condo in Florida (2 bed/2 bath) you’ll probably spend somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 a month just in rental fees.  If you want to rent in a country club environment to enjoy the amenities of a golf community, you’ll spend $3,000 to $4,000 a month. That is before paying extra to play golf or tennis – which could add another $3,000 to $4,000 over the rental period.   

Before you have done anything else, you’ve already committed to spending about $16,000 to $20,000 for a 4-month stay at a high-quality country club in a place like Palm Beach County, Florida.   

Buying 

Now, suppose you could buy a similar property to use year-round for roughly the same price? Would that intrigue you?  

Consider this: Recent conversations with members of one such country club and conversations with realtors in Palm Beach County, Florida, indicates that some properties (generally smaller units of 1300 – 1500 square feet) are for sale for anywhere between $1 (that’s right, $1) and $15,000.  These are properties that would normally sell for between $50,000 and $75,000.   

While considering these options, a few questions may come to mind. I want to discuss a couple key questions.

 

Why are these properties for sale for such a low sales price?    

Here’s my theory.   

Thirty or 40 years ago these properties were bought by the original owners who then were in their 50s and 60s and today these individuals are either passing or going into other living arrangements.  The property is being inherited by their kids who have no interest in a condo at a country club golf community and they certainly are not interested in continuing to pay the annual country club dues (mandatory at quite a few residential country clubs) and HOA fees. So, the kids put the property up for sale at a greatly reduced price to rid themselves of what could as much as a $2,000 monthly expense tied to inheriting their parent’s estate.

For someone looking to buy a vacation property on a country club these properties can be a heck of a deal.  With the right property, you can enjoy the amenities of golf and tennis whenever you like for only a little more than what a four-month rental would cost you each year! 

For example, I recently met a gentleman who bought one such property for $1 ($1,500 if you include closing costs).  He paid $42,000 to join the club, which is 80% refundable when he sells.  So basically, this person bought a 1400 square foot apartment on the second floor overlooking the golf course for $9,900 ($1 plus $1,499 closing costs plus non-refundable club membership of $8,400). HOA fees will run him about $850 each month and he has the same access to a wonderful country club environment as members with million-dollar properties. 

Say he decides to rehab the apartment down the road, spending around $50,000, for less than $60,000 he’d have a like-new 2nd home in Florida.

 

Bottom line, is it better to buy or rent?    

That depends!   

If you rent and have country club access you might be spending $20,000 a year.  If you buy you have initial outlays for purchase and club membership, some of which is refundable when you sell along with monthly dues and fees of a couple thousand dollars.  So, if you plan to spend all winter in Florida (November – April) ownership might make sense.  

Of course, you also have maintenance, insurance, property taxes that you would not have if you rent.  Still when all is said and done, if you want to own a Florida apartment, on a beautiful country club property you might investigate buying rather than renting.  I am told properties that are that cheap are being rebought by the condo associations, who are renovating them and selling them at a premium. 

Gather the specifics, talk with your financial planner.  For the right person, this could be a great opportunity. 

If you are considering buying or renting a vacation home in retirement, and you don’t already have a financial planner, schedule a time to talk with us at Aspyre Wealth Partners. We help our clients consider the options that make the most sense for their situation. The Y in Aspyre means we start with You and your Why. Contact us today so we can help build an actionable financial plan for you to use as you consider your options.

 

Stewart S. Koesten, M.S.F.S., CFP®, CIMA®. is Executive Chairman of Aspyre Wealth Partners with more than 35 years of experience as a wealth management advisor. Stewart especially enjoys working with people who travel or live abroad, or those who want to travel or live abroad. Contact Stewart Koesten at (913) 345-1881.
Aspyre Wealth Partners® is a Fee Only financial services company located in Overland Park, Kansas. We are fiduciaries with a focus on: Financial PlanningInvestment ManagementCareer Coaching, and Life Transitions. We update our blog frequently – click here for additional insights. Find out how well your money is serving you by taking our complimentary, 3-minute Return on Life (ROL) Assessment.

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