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3 Timeshare Alternatives for Savvy Vacation Goers

Timeshare alternatives: big house with a landscaped front lawn

Buying a timeshare appeals to people who want to make vacationing a more permanent part of their life. Timeshare companies are aware of this and put a great deal into convincing these vacation goers that owning a timeshare is a better deal than staying at hotels or renting vacation homes. But is taking on the responsibilities of timeshare ownership really worth it?


A quick search through any booking website will show you that affordable timeshare alternatives are very easy to find. And contrary to what people who work in timeshare sales will tell you, they are a much better deal than owning a timeshare. Here are some of the best timeshare alternatives available to vacationers like you.


The Best Timeshare Alternatives

If you’re interested in timeshares, it’s probably because you want all the upscale vacationing experiences that timeshare resorts boast. But you don’t have to pay annual fees and sign a hefty contract to get these experiences. Here are some great timeshare alternatives that come with many of the same perks without all the complications. 


Check Into an Airbnb

Cottage in the mountains

Airbnb is an online marketplace that offers a wide variety of lodging experiences all over the world to rent from. The great thing about this website is that it isn’t run by a huge company like Marriott or Hilton Grand Vacations. Most of the lodging you can find on Airbnb are from regular people who are offering up their vacation homes, apartments, and properties for you to stay in. 


All kinds of renters use Airbnb, so you can find an exciting array of vacation rentals to stay in for a wide range of budgets. If you want to experience the nature of the Florida Everglades, you can easily find a tropical ranch to rent a room at. If you are looking to have an authentic experience in Williamsburg, Virginia, Airbnb has a selection of colonial bed-and-breakfasts to choose from. 


The best thing about renting from Airbnb is that it supports the livelihood of individuals and small hotels that offer unique lodging experiences. And while this online marketplace includes pricier vacation accommodations, there are also plenty of options for those with a relatively small budget. Plus each property is managed on a smaller scale than large timeshare resorts, so the importance of providing a spectacular experience for each individual guest is much greater.


Invest in a Vacation Home

Some people think that purchasing a timeshare is the same thing as purchasing real estate — but it’s not. Timeshares are fractional real estate, meaning that you only own 1/52 of the property if you have a week-long timeshare deed. Why would you pay $10,000 to $100,000 for a space that you only own 1/52 stock in? At that price, you might as well invest in a vacation home.

 

If you have money to spare, buying a vacation home is a much better deal. You have access to it any time you want. And when you aren’t staying there, you can do whatever you want with the property. Rent it out to make extra money, let friends and family stay in it, or eventually sell it at a higher price than purchased.

 

With all the rental and resale limitations that timeshare companies have, and the fact that you can never gain equity in the property, buying a vacation home might actually save you more money in the long run.


Stay at a Timeshare Rental

Woman relaxing by the pool

Timeshare resorts don’t just provide rooms to their owners. They also offer timeshare rentals to regular vacationers. Renting gives you access to spacious timeshare units that come complete with living rooms, full kitchens, and multiple bedrooms. It’s like having a short-term timeshare that doesn’t come with all the responsibilities and added fees that burden owners. Plus, timeshare rentals often are offered at a very discounted rate that’s cheaper than owning a timeshare ⁠— even if you are able to get one for free.


If you decide to rent a timeshare directly from a timeshare resort, you may be approached by salespeople about buying. If this happens, make sure to stay firm in your resistance. This can be challenging, especially if you were given a free stay in exchange for attending a presentation. But keep in mind that if you continue to rent instead of own, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money and stress.


Why Timeshares Aren’t Worth It

Now that we know about the best timeshare alternatives, let’s identify why owning a timeshare isn’t a good deal. To start, timeshares aren’t all that affordable. It’s true that timeshare owners pay annual maintenance fees instead of nightly hotel rates. But that’s not the only cost of a timeshare. Owners also have to fork over an initial payment for the property.

 

According to ARDA, the average cost of a timeshare is about $23,000, a sum that most people can’t afford to pay all at once. Just like in real estate, most owners take out a loan to pay for their timeshare. Of course, this accumulates interest over time and ends up costing double the initial property value due to high interest rates. 


And this average price is deceptively low because it includes purchases for timeshares with availability every other or every third year. So in some cases you’re taking out a loan for a property you can’t even visit every year. 

There are also a lot of limitations that come with owning a timeshare. Some timeshare providers only offer fixed-week programs, which means that you can only vacation one week a year or one week every other year. Not only does this limit when you can take vacations. This also means that if you’re unable to take a trip during that week, you still have to pay your annual fees.


Another reason why timeshares aren’t a worthwhile purchase is that timeshare companies are extremely manipulative. The timeshare industry thrives off of getting innocent vacationers to sign lifelong contracts that are almost impossible to escape. Companies take advantage of people by offering them free stays at their timeshare resorts in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation


Once they’re at the presentation, timeshare salespeople will treat potential buyers with perks like free drinks, meals, and even gift cards to gain their trust. Then these companies trap their guests for hours and won’t let them go until they agree to sign a timeshare contract. Within a matter of days, it’s too late to cancel the contract and the new timeshare buyer is likely stuck in this deal for life. You are much better off exploring timeshare alternatives.


Escape Timeshare Ownership for Good

Timeshare alternatives: happy colleagues throwing papers in celebration

Why own a timeshare when there are so many great timeshare alternatives? Staying at an Airbnb, renting from a resort, or even purchasing your own vacation home are all preferable options to owning a timeshare. Booking with Airbnb gives you access to unique and affordable vacation destinations throughout the world while renting from a resort gives you all the perks of timeshare ownership without the financial burdens and high maintenance fees. And if you’re a vacation goer looking to make a large yet worthwhile investment, purchasing a vacation home is a great alternative to timeshare ownership that may actually make you money if you decide to rent or sell. 


But what if you cannot explore these timeshare alternatives because you’re already burdened with the recurring expenses and stresses of timeshare ownership? If you’re stuck in a contract that you can’t seem to get out of, Centerstone Group may be able to help. We are a full-service advocacy group that specializes in resolving timeshare contracts for clients seeking timeshare exits. With one of the most comprehensive resolution processes in the industry, our team can provide you with quicker results than any other timeshare exit company or law firm. Contact us for a free consultation.

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