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OM: Vacation Homes October 12, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Less IS More, People, Travel & Leisure.

200px-RealMotherGooseIn One Mistake (“OM”) People Make, we met DD (Divorced Dad) who decided to simplify his life by buying a vacation home . . .

In Costa Rica!

DD decided that owning a place in Costa Rica would change his life for the better.

Hmm . . . 

When he’s not there, the place is sitting empty while still costing him money.

And, when he’s not in Chicago, his “money pit” is sitting idle, while costing him money for utilities, cable, etc.

DD will have to work more hours to pay for two homes.  He’ll have to rent a car to use in Costa Rica because he’s located 30 minutes away from town.  He’ll have to pay someone to care for the swimming pool in his absence.

Is any of this simplifying his life?

Of course not.

Owning a second home rarely simplifies life.  Over time, real estate can be a good investment, but in the meantime, it’s expensive and time-consuming:

(1) The down payment.
(2) Monthly mortgage payments.
(3) The cost of airfare to Costa Rica.
(4) The time to travel to Costa Rica.
(5) Maintenance, upkeep, and repair expenses for two homes.


Since DD will have to work longer hours in Chicago (taking time away from his daughter) in order to pay for his piece of “paradise” in Costa Rica, it’s unlikely that he’s simplified his life one iota.

What could he have done instead?

Instead of spending $275,000, plus interest, on a second home, he could have cut back on his hours to spend more time with his daughter.

If he had money burning a hole in his pocket, he could have finished the work needed to update his Money Pit by hiring someone to help him with the renovations.

He could have sold the Money Pit to buy a small pied a terre with no maintenance required.


With his increased “free time” he could have gotten to know his daughter in any number of ways:

* They could have visited museums in downtown Chicago and discussed art, and architecture, and music.

* They could have gone to ethnic restaurants, studying up ahead of time to understand the cuisine of each region.

* They could have taken a cooking class together, or learned a foreign language.

* They could have played in the park, gone for long walks, or enjoyed snowball fights followed by hot cocoa.

Airplane* Instead of flying to Costa Rica multiple times, they could have taken shorter and more frequent weekend trips, visiting and learning about different destinations while soaking up varied experiences.

* They could have visited our National Parks to hike and camp while learning to pitch a tent and start a campfire.

* They could have roasted marshmallows while singing or telling ghost stories around the campfire.

Why did DD really buy a vacation home in a far off exotic destination? Was he really trying to “simplify” his life?

Probably not.

Maybe he viewed it as a sound investment.  Buy for $275,000 and sell down the road for “more than that.”  But, even if it doubles in price, he’s probably not going to realize a net gain after subtracting his travel costs and the mortgage interest and the insurance and the cost of two cars and . . .

220px-Horse_and_ManThe goal behind most goals is happiness.

DD probably bought the place in Costa Rica because he wasn’t happy.

He’s divorced, living in Chicago with cold, snowy winters, and he didn’t feel emotionally close to his daughter.  He romanticized that owning a piece of Paradise would provide him with the elusive happiness he desired.

Maybe it will.

Probably it won’t.

Quote:  Happiness is never in things . . . it is in us.

Related post:  How to Access Happiness NOW


1. booksphotographsandartwork - October 12, 2010

Well I wish that someone I know who wants to move very very far away and out of my comfort zone would realize this fact!

The DD probably had or has grand visions of a slim bikini clad woman running down the beach towards him also. Think again DD.

nrhatch - October 12, 2010

That’s so funny. I bet you’re right. He talked quite a bit about wanting to do lots of “entertaining” at the casa.

Mi casa es su casa!

2. cindy - October 13, 2010

Oh dear, kinda sad 😦

nrhatch - October 13, 2010

Well, I’m no psychologist. Maybe I misread the situation entirely. But it did look like he thought owning a vacation home would “fix” his life.

That is not a likely outcome.

3. Naomi - October 13, 2010

Choices, choices…

nrhatch - October 13, 2010

Who we are today is the result of choices we made yesterday. 😉

4. Greg Camp - October 15, 2010

I suppose that the question is what we are talking about with regard to happiness. The word has the same root as happen and happenstance. In other words, there’s a quality of chance at its core.

One element of happiness, then, could be security from chance events. That $275,000 could have made a good reserve fund in case the father or daughter gets an illness or into an accident. Certainly, if I had that much money lying about, I’d get out of debt, thereby removing several monthly bills. Having money that I get to spend on what I want is a pleasant experience.

That being said, beyond the freedom from worry, the real question is whether I am satisfied with the essential elements of my life. I’m in a good relationship; I do what I was born to do in my job, and I get to work on my writing in my free time. Those are fundamental to who I am. Yes, I have money worries (who doesn’t these days?), but they are external. Having a lot more money would make the details of my life easier, but no amount, large or small, changes who I am, and I’m pleased with who I am.

Now, if only I can figure out how to get some of divorced dad’s money siphoned my way. . .

nrhatch - October 15, 2010

We need much less to survive, thrive, and be happy than we’ve been led to believe in our consumeristic culture.

When we stop looking “out there” for happiness, we grow content with less, simplifying our lives in the process.

BTW: If you decide to “rob a bank” or convenience store to get some spare change … don’t put a plastic bag over your head.

Paper is definitely the way to go. 😉


5. judson2history - October 18, 2010

Down to the Banana Republics, down to the tropical sun, go the expatriated Americans, trying to find some fun …

Great song by Jimmy Buffett

— Judson

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

Love Buffett.

“He went to Paris looking for answers to questions that bothered him so.”

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