Buying a “second home” when you don’t even have a first home?

lake arrowhead properties

I had a new crazy idea to satiate my home and backyard lust

A few months ago, that guy I married texted me out of the blue with the idea to buy a piece of land up in the mountains and plop a trailer on it. That way we can go up and basically camp with the dogs, and then AirBnB it when it’s not in use. I decided, “nah, I’d rather drive myself crazy trying to find an affordable home with a yard for the dogs in Los Angeles.” Hahahaha.

Recently I decided to just check out what properties are going for in and around the Lake Arrowhead area…

Turns out, they’re pretty damn affordable! I’m talking 2+ bedrooms on 10k square feet with amazing fireplaces and walls of glass with views of gorgeous wooded lots. Basically the home of my dreams, but… you know… 2+ hours away from where I want my home.

So, along with obsessively looking at properties in Los Angeles, I’ve added “Lake Arrowhead – 1+ beds, <$300K” to my Redfin searches.

I nervously brought up the idea to my parents, expecting them to shoot it down. Because who buy a vacation home when they don’t even have a first home!? I also knew that they had purchased property in Lake Arrowhead a million years ago, and then sold it after a few years. I wondered why. There HAD to be a catch as to why amazing properties are so affordable. Turns out, no catch, no problem. My parents thought the idea was a good one. And, in fact, put me in contact with their realtor who sold them their property years ago.

Well okay, that’s wrong, there are a couple catches…

  • That guy I married isn’t sold on the idea. In fact, he’s super freaked out by it.
  • You can’t actually build a fence on a lot of the properties, so the dogs would have land, but not safe space in which to play.
  • I don’t know if I want to spend ALL my money on a vacation home, when I really really want a local home.

Is there anyone else out there who has purchased a second home because they couldn’t afford a first home?

9 thoughts on “Buying a “second home” when you don’t even have a first home?

  1. KathyRo

    I think it’s a good idea to buy something because I don’t see you buying anything in LA without getting a chunk of change from somewhere. Selling the secondary home at a future date could do that for you.
    I think I would lean towards the “land + trailer” approach. I would be very nervous about relying on AirBNB for income.
    But one thing’s for sure : I can’t wait to see the real estate porn this latest idea yields!

    1. meganfinley

      Yeah, that’s the way I see it too. Unless I come into a unrealistic windfall, it would probably take me 4 more years to get the downpayment together. In the meantime, I could be enjoying some kind of home/yard situation, and the Airbnb would just be an extra bonus.

      And yes, eyes pealed for real estate porn! It is coming!

  2. dootsiebug

    I actually considered doing exactly this! We found an amaaaazing cabin near a lake for $50k, but the neighbors (who lived there full-time) seemed pretty weird and rude, so I let myself be talked out of it. I defintely have days where I regret not doing it.
    For now, we use my parents’ house as our weekend homesteading getaway, and I really think it helps me stay satisfied living in an apartment.

    1. meganfinley

      When my parents lived an hour + away, I used to use their place as a weekend getaway. It had a glorious yard, a pool, a jacuzzi, a fire place, and cable. It completely helped me not feel so trapped in an apartment. Now they live 48 hours away, and I gots no place to go. My hopes are that the cabin would become that replacement place. Only… I have to pay for it… LAME. 😉

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  4. Susan

    Here’s a slightly outlandish idea re trailers – I’ve always thought this was kind of cool – and probably expensive, given what vintage stuff goes for these days. Just Google “redneck mansions” + snopes. (Actually, it turns out it’s an outdoor theatre set )

  5. Kelly Maguire

    I’m not sure how I missed this post when it was actually recent, but I think this is an awesome idea. Especially when housing is so expensive where you live and you want a little more breathing room than you can afford. Renting something affordable and having a sweet weekend escape sounds like a great plan.

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