We went to Eastern Pennsylvania yesterday. We checked out towns like Bushkill and Stroudsburg. We visited a real estate agent's office, and we went looking around at possibilities.
After thinking about the costs and benefits, we decided that buying a second home just didn't make sense. We considered how often we'd be able to use it, and then we started adding up all of the expenses--principal and interest on the mortgage, taxes, insurance, homeowner's association fees (if applicable), utilities, maintenance, etc. Also, we found that the cost of tolls and gas round-trip ran to almost $70.
We could rent the house on weekends when we're not using it to make a few bucks back, but that just adds more complications.
The bottom line is that we can put some money into REIT mutual funds to get some real estate diversification with as much investment value as the further equity-building this would have provided. With the rest of the money, we'll have plenty to do some extra weekends away, if/when we can find the time.
The last complication is the dogs. Honestly, as Marc and I discussed today, the dogs were a big motivation for doing this. The idea of having a place to take little weekend trips and be able to have the kids with us--and have yard for them to run around there--was a great attraction. But really, does it make sense to buy another house to simplify things with our furry kids?
There's an alternative. Having now taken the trouble to look, I've already found area B&Bs that are both gay-friendly and dog-friendly. So I think we'll stick with the one house. We like it just fine, and we can still have our little trips.