Backyard Oasis: The Alternative to the Expensive Vacation
Growing up in New England, I have many memories of my school summer vacations. We were lucky enough to always have a week or two planned every summer in order to go away and I can remember some of the highlights of those vacations. Rolling around in the back of the station wagon (because back then we could), breakfast at the Howard Johnson on the way down the east coast. We had wonderful times visiting Hershey Park, Busch Gardens, and Disney World. But the thing is, most of my memories of school summer vacations when I was a kid have nothing to do with the trips we took. Why? Because we had a pool and so every day was like a vacation. I remember waiting hours for my mother to get us ready with sunblock and snacks etc. We would head out to the back yard (ok, so maybe it was more like 20 minutes but it felt like hours). I remember my brother teaching me and my best friend how to dive in the deep end and wanting to be “cool” like my sister and her friends as they sunbathed in lounge chairs. And the family parties! Oh what a time!
Over the years, the trend of at home vacations seemed to fall by the wayside and be replaced with expensive trips to tropical islands. Expensive and short lived, these trips may have given great photo ops and good memories, but also left behind little money and exhaustion from long airline travel. In 2017, Forbes Magazine published an article that more than ever Americans are having to go into debt just to pay for a vacation. On average, Americans who are taking annual vacations are spending 10 to more than 15% of their annual salaries on vacations. Given that Uncle Sam is taking approximately 30 to 35% of the average American’s paycheck that means that a person who is earning $70,000 per year is likely spending almost 25% of their income on vacations per year.
The fact is, if you want quality time with your family, relaxation by the water and a fancy drink in your hand, you can do all of that without leaving the house and without all of the hassle.
You may have heard the term “staycation” over the last several years. It may be a newer term but the idea isn’t new, it just was lost for some time. Recently, people are going back to the idea of staycations again. This is due to many factors including the cost of travel, the state of unrest that many feel on planes and other public transportation, and a savvier generation of people realizing the money spent on one week of vacation isn’t always worth it.
The trend today is not just throwing a hole in the backyard and filling it with water, it is so much more. Today’s homeowners are turning their backyards into a place where they can vacation every day. From gorgeous swimming pools with attached spas and features galore to outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and pizza ovens, the return on these investments exceed the financial, you just cannot put a price on family togetherness without the hassle of travel. In fact, for many, the inclusion of a backyard oasis has become their own personal nightly therapy. It has become a way to bring kids, grandkids, cousins, friends, and then some together. Parents are realizing that they are creating a safe place where kids are excited to bring friends, and adults can socialize in a relaxed setting.
While the upfront cost may be something of an eye popper, creating outdoor living space gives back financially over time, unlike a trip to Cabo, that money is recouped. It is a true investment, regardless of whether this is your forever home or your “next ten years” home. I recently spoke about the financial recoupment of investing in your backyard with Amy Farrell, owner of Amy Farrell Real Estate and a distinguished realtor specializing in home sales on the South Shore. Amy often tells her clients “a well-planned backyard really adds to the value of any home. When people can envision themselves using and relating there, it virtually adds to the living space.” Watch any show on HGTV these days and you will see that she is right. With so many options and choices these days for outside embellishments, it is no wonder that dressing up your yard has become just as important as your kitchen.
So the question is, what are you waiting for?
 Learnvest, “Most Americans are Taking Vacations They Can’t Afford,” Forbes Magazine (2017).
 Amy Farrell of Amy Farrell Real Estate, 781-929-2985.