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Buy, rent, or barter? What’s your vacation style?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis August 13, 2012 05:00 AM

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By the time this posts, I will have spent the night at the Erving State Forest, camping out with my eight-year-old son and my two daughters, six and four.

Hopefully it didn't rain overnight.

The state park is one of the better kept secrets out there, hidden off Route 2 on the approaches to Western Mass, with lots of picturesque tent sites with a nice woodsy feel. You can definitely see the stars and it's not overrun with huge RVs.

Camping is one of the most affordable getaways around. My wife Karen and I are also fans of home exchanges - here is a post I did recently on our house exchange with a family in Quebec.

So there's my theory on vacationing - spend a little money but avoid investing in something expensive and illiquid, like a house, or just expensive and hard to park, like an RV.

Basically, rent or barter, but don't buy, is my theory.

But then again, there are pluses to having a get-away to call your own, including quality control and reliability. It's your own, after all - you won't ever have to negotiate dates or drive 500 miles to find the house that looked so great in the photos is just half the size you thought.

That said, buying a vacation home in this market with the justification that it will be some sort of great long-term investment seems is a game for fools.

It's hard enough to justify the investment potential of a primary home, let alone spending money on a vacation house.

As far as RVs go, they look like fun but I definitely don't have the driveway to park one in. Nor are they cheap.

So what's your vacation philosophy? Is it worth spending money to buy a family getaway, or this it simply putting more money down the real estate rat hole?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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