Before embarking on any Florida timeshare or vacation club membership, you need to look long and hard at your vacation habits to decide whether it is actually cost effective.
In general, a vacation club membership is more cost effective if you are used to spending more on your vacations; for example staying in deluxe resorts rather than budget motels
If you do decide to go ahead, then you also need to consider what region of Florida to buy in, what sort and size of property, the time of year and if you need rental income to help offset the costs.
Advantages of Vacation Ownership
- if you have the money in the bank today and you are used to taking expensive vacations then you could be better off in the long run
- you are effectively purchasing your future holidays at today's prices and you can almost guarantee that accommodation charges will rise year on year as well; a sort of inflation proof pre-paid vacation program
- unlike owning your own property, you do not have to worry about the maintenance and upkeep (including hurricane insurance which is very relevant for Florida) as this is all covered by an annual maintenance fee though there may be what are termed "special assessment" fees periodically to cover out of the ordinary repairs and refurbishment
- you are paying the same for the accommodation irrespective of how many people stay there, no hotel occupancy supplements to worry about
- flexibility through timeshare exchange programs allowing you to swap your 'home' resort for thousands of other destinations throughout the world
- it gives you the incentive to take a vacation each year
Disadvantages of Vacation Ownership
- you need to think about the significant initial costs, especially if you are considering borrowing the money though all timeshare and vacation club companies will be keen to help finance you
- the annual fees will almost certainly rise year on year as the property gets older and there may be "special assessment" fees
- unless you have a way of banking your annual entitlement, you will lose it if you do not take a vacation
- changes in your lifestyle. You may have a young family now and Florida in particular is the perfect vacation but what about in 25 years time when your children have grown up though by then you may have grandchildren which could be the perfect excuse to go back to Florida again !!
- also consider what you could do with the money now; i.e. the investment potential and immediate access to that money if your financial situation was to change; though it may be possible to rent out your timeshare/points or sell your membership through a timeshare resale though resale values are not that good at the moment
Also bear in mind that accommodation costs are only a part of your total vacation costs:
- you still have the costs of getting to your vacation resort
- the costs of all your meals and
- particularly in Florida, if you are visiting the theme parks, the cost of attraction tickets, though some vacation clubs like Disney may give you discounts