Buy a Second Home

How to Buy a Second Home in San Diego

In this article I will discuss some of the reasons people have second homes in San Diego and tell you about the best real estate locations within a 2 hours drive from San Diego.

Convenience

So why have a second home in the first place? I have a cabin in the mountains and I love it. Being a real estate agent, I work crazy hours. It’s really hard for me to plan a vacation, since I never know what critical escrows I’ll be dealing with at a future date. Crystal and I can get away for 2 or 3 days, but a 2 week vacation just isn’t part of our life right now. So short breaks work for us.

But booking a room at a getaway spot has its problems too. We can say that next weekend looks open, book a room, and then someone I’ve been working with for months just sold their house and is coming to San Diego to buy a second home. Hmmm… sell a house or take the weekend off? So we don’t go, and we lose the money we spent on the room because of the cancellation policy.

And then there’s the packing to go. Bringing everything you might need just for a weekend away takes time. And then the unpacking when you get back.

With the second home, we can go at a moment’s notice. No reservations needed. We have some clothes, food staples, toiletries and hiking gear at the cabin. Just pack some underwear, bring the milk that’s in the fridge so it doesn’t go bad, and we’re off! We can leave at 7pm and be at the cabin by 9pm.

A place for family gatherings

Want to make some memories? Thanks to our cabin, we’ve managed to drag our elderly parents out of the house and take walks with them in the woods. I’ve baked oatmeal cookies with my granddaughter. We’ve had holiday dinners. My son has taken some friends to the cabin for a getaway for his young family. Yes, you can do all these things at home, but I don’t know why, there’s something special about a getaway place. It seems a lot easier to do these things when there aren;t so many other things to do.

A work retreat

I’m actually writing this article at my cabin right now. I’m looking out the window watching the birds, rabbits, California quail, Blue Jays, tree squirrels, and woodpeckers visiting my bird feeders under the pines and cedars. It’s inspirational, and sometimes I need that. I can go to the cabin with a goal in mind, say to get a mailing project going, or finish updating my website. I set a goal, I’m not coming down the mountain until the job is done. So believe it or not, having the getaway spot provides a place away from distractions where I can concentrate and I believe it actually helps my productivity.

The Splitters

Thanks to low cost travel corridors and virtual work spaces, some people are choosing to own two primary residences and travel between them. Instead of working until retirement and then cold-turkey moving to a retirement destination, many of my clients are choosing to buy the retirement home now, and “split” their time between the two homes. The second home has all the spaces and amenities that the first home has. It’s a great way to “test-drive” an area and see if you would like to live there permanently. As you transition to retirement, you simply spend more and more time at the new residence and less time at the other one.

For example, Nevada is a state with no income taxes, and Southwest has many flights a day to Las Vegas. A San Diegan could buy a nice home in Nevada where prices are much less, spend 183 days a year there and declare Nevada residency. During the hottest part of the year in Nevada, you would live in your San Diego home.

Here’s another example. A couple from Minnesota bought a place in San Diego as a retirement home. They travel back and forth for a period of years, escaping the Minnesota winters. When they are ready to retire for good, they will sell the big house in Minnesota and buy a condo there so they can go back and visit the kids when they want.

A good investment

As baby boomers retire, the demand for second homes is increasing. In Southern California, there is a finite amount of beach, mountain or desert properties, so there is the potential for price appreciation. You can rent out your vacation spot seasonally to help pay for it or generate income if you like. So here’s a real estate investment that you can actually enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really enjoyed my 401K.

So we love second homes, but where should we get one?

The Beach

beachOf course, a California beach house is the perfect second home for those who live inland. You’d be surprised how many properties near the beach are owned by people from the Inland Empire and from out of state. Why have a second home at the beach? For the salty smell of the ocean, the swimming, the kayaking, the jet-skiing, the sandcastles, the sailing, the surfing, feeding the seagulls, people watching, the awesome sunsets, the many fine restaurants, shall I go on? It’s a place like no other.

The ocean can get its hooks in you. Some people start to feel claustrophobic and get panicky when they can’t see the ocean for awhile. No kidding! One of my clients described it like this: warm sun and cool breeze. That’s what it’s like to be near the beach.

We have many fine condos and small homes that would make perfect second homes. Where to buy depends on the kind of experience you want. Some places are noisy “party time” kind of places, and some have a quiet “beach town” atmosphere. So be sure to get the opinion of a local real estate expert (me!) before taking the plunge.

The back country – Julian, CA

julianJulian CA, a San Diego County Mountain Town Julian is San Diego’s mountain town. We enjoy visiting there, and have stayed in a few of the rustic cabins in the area. You haven’t really been to San Diego until you’ve tried one of Julian’s famous apple pies! The elevation of 5000 feet makes it ideal apple growing country.
Julian has a nice mix of pines, manzanitas, oaks, and cedars. Unfortunately, the Cedar Fire of October 2003 has destroyed many of the pines in the surrounding area, but the populated areas of the town were saved by a massive firefighting effort. There is good hiking available in the area, and you can watch the forest regenerate itself in the years ahead.

If you’re interested in a second home in Julian, give me a call and I can help.

The Mountains – Lake Arrowhead & Big Bear

bigbearLake Arrowhead & Big Bear, in the Mountains Near near San Diego Our first cabin was in Big Bear, and that’s where I realized that I really do love having a place in the mountains. The big draw for this area is skiing. If you like to snow ski, having a cabin in Big Bear and a season pass to the ski lifts is the way to go.

Big Bear is about 6000 feet above sea level. It’s a 2 and 1/2 to 3 hour drive from San Diego, so it is a bit far for a quick escape. But there is more to do there than in Idyllwild or Julian. In winter there’s the ski resorts, and inner-tubing in the snow for the kids. In summer there’s fishing or jet-skiing on the lake, golfing, and great hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Big Bear is quite large, with its own K-Mart, Albertson’s, Stater Brothers, Quizno’s and many other chain stores. The town is always hosting some kind of festival or entertainment to entice you to go there.

Lake Arrowhead is a bit closer, and the lake is the big draw. There are many fine homes with boat docks on the water and upscale shops. It’s a quick and popular getaway from the smoggy Los Angeles basin.

If you’re interested in a second home in Big Bear, give me a call. I know a great agent there who helped me with the purchase and sale of my property, and I can have him send you information.

The Mountains – Idyllwild

idyllwildIdyllwild,in the Mountains Near San Diego Idyllwild is my favorite for a number of reasons. It’s only 1 hour 45 minutes from Carlsbad. The ride is through the beautiful countryside with awesome views, a relaxing journey in itself. The last traffic light was in Temecula, a hour from Idyllwild. So when Crystal and I arrive at the cabin, we’re already in the mountain mood.

The town is small, but has everything. There are no chain stores, only mom and pop places. The people here like it that way. We have fun exploring the shops and restaurants and we keep making discoveries. We found a deli that makes a terrific chicken pot pie that you take home and bake. Another place has great homemade cookies. And the Idyllwild Cafe has the biggest and best pancakes I’ve ever seen! There’s something to be said for not having the same old chain restaurants that gives you a feeling of “been there done that”.

We like to hike, and the hiking in Idyllwild is the best in Southern California. One of my clients from out of state who has a second home in Oceanside had been hiking mostly around San Diego County. When he asked me where to go, I told him to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the trailhead in Idyllwild. After he returned he wrote me and said, “Fantastic! The views were terrific, like nothing else in Southern California, it reminded me of the Grand Tetons!”

Well, I have to admit the scenery is pretty terrific. Idyllwild is at 5500 feet, and to the east are mountains over 10,000 feet. There’s Lily Rock, Tahquitz Peak and Marion Mountain rising high into the sky. So when you’re in Idyllwild you’re always looking up, and that’s a good thing.

If you’re interested in a second home in Idyllwild, give me a call. I know a great agent there who is very familiar with “the hill” as we call it, and I can have him send you information.

The Desert – Palm Springs

palmspringsPalm Springs, A Desert Homes Near San Diego How is it possible that in 2 hours you drive from the ocean, over the pine covered mountains, and drop down 5000 feet to the desert floor? It’s just amazing! The desert makes a great escape from the everyday, and you really feel like you were someplace different.

There’s two ways to go here. You can stay in your very upscale condo and enjoy posh shopping on El Paseo, and have your pick of many very fine restaurants along HIghway 111. That’s a fine reason to visit or have a second home in the desert.

The other way is to get out of your condo and explore the incredible beauty the desert has to offer. You can experience coming upon a lush oasis after hiking for hours through a barren landscape. You can really get as far away as you want, you can be 60 miles from any other living person and listen to the dead quiet, so quiet that it actually hurts your ears. There are caves to explore, awesome views to discover, slot canyons to squeeze through. You would never believe what’s out there if you’ve only seen the desert through your car windows.

If you’re interested in a second home in the desert, give me a call. I know a great agent there who is part of my networking group, the “California All Stars”. He helped me find my investment property there, and I can have him send you a package of information.

Investor’s Lament

I hesitate to make a list,
Of all the countless deals I’ve missed.

Bonanzas that were in my grip,
I’ve watched them through my fingers slip.

The windfalls that I should have bought,
Were lost because I over thought.

I thought of this, I thought of that,
I could have sworn I smelled a rat.

And while I thought things over twice,
Another grabbed them at the price.

It seems I always hesitate,
And make my mind up much too late.

A very cautious man am I,
And that is why I never buy.

At times a tear drops down my eye,
For deals I had and did not buy.

And now life’s saddest words I pen,
“If Only I’d Invested Then!”