Retirees with two homes

We are now retired and looking into moving closer to my daughter in Boston. It is very difficult to decide where to go, what kind of place to live in, etc. The current line of thinking is to rent an apartment there for a year and see how we feel about it.

One conflict I have is that I am in the downsizing mode (bag a week, etc.), but if we rent and keep our current house, I will have two homes with stuff for at least for the short term.

How do any of you who are snowbirds or live otherwise in two locations handle this. Did you raid your primary home to furnish your second one? Was it a pain to have to have two of so many things (toaster, pots, etc.)? Did you invest in new furniture for the second home?

Any thougths and suggestions on this process are welcome.

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Following! :smiley:

We have not done it yet, but our plans if we do opt to buy a condo is to have it fully furnished and ready to go by itself rather than taking anything major with us when we swap places. All we should have to bring is clothes and get food plus anything else that would have gone bad while we were gone.

ETA: H’s family has had a vacation cottage even since he can remember. It’s always set to go, not having to bring anything other than humans and food when they head there. They don’t rent it to others either. It’s just theirs. We already keep things like laundry detergent and toiletries there for when we visit. Why pack and bring them each time?


Not me but my brother and SIL recently bought a townhome in Key West mostly furnished. Primary home is in Michigan. I think they contracted for the items they wanted and then when the sale was finished they filled in with new pieces they needed/wanted and bought those things local to the 2nd home.


I’ll second the recommendation to have both equipped so that you need to show up only with clothes and food. Moving back and forth becomes such an ordeal when it starts to involve linens, small appliances, etc.

Many people have found that they have enough in their primary home to furnish a second home. What I have noticed, though is that there have been lots of times when I should have tossed something (older bed linens) and have “re-homed” them to the second home where its sorry state becomes apparent. It feels wasteful to buy everything new, but there is often a reason something no longer is welcome at home! This is something you will probably need to work through and will no doubt depend on how picky you are about your interiors and how much money you have to spend.

The one piece of more definitive advice I have is to make a list of what you take when you go to the second house. When you come back, update it to remove what was unnecessary and to add what you wished you had. It’ll make the packing much less burdensome as you develop a "permanent " list.

I often photograph the bathrooms, kitchen and pantry shelves, and cleaning supplies so I can remember what we have and need. This practice was inspired by the 6 bottles of windex that ended up in the cleaning cabinet.


We had a second home for a while. We furnished it cheaply from Ikea and Home Goods. We definitely had two sets of everything and also took pictures so we would remember what was there.

Now that we’re back to one house, we integrated some, sold some, and kept some for our D’s first apartment.


Living in two places can make you crazy. There are times I hate it and times I love it. When we purchased our vacation home, the owner sold the place with all the furniture plus dishes/linens (everything except artwork) so we just moved in. Over the years (15), we’ve renovated the house and furnished it with our “stuff” and gotten rid of most of what we acquired from the previous owner. We rarely take anything other than clothes between the two houses. Mostly we have duplicates of household items/furniture.

Before we retired, we’d go back and forth more frequently. Now, we stay for longer time periods. It’s 105 miles and an hour ferry trip between the two places. One thing we learned is an empty house can be a problem and it pays to have a caretaker/handyman check up on the empty house to make sure there aren’t any problems. We have rented our vacation place for a month in the summer and that goes a long way to help pay for taxes, etc. We’ve been lucky in that we have rented to the same family for the last seven years. We didn’t rent during COVID and won’t rent this year. I’ve made the whole thing sound negative and it isn’t. We’ve had great times at the vacation home–it’s in a beautiful place. My kids love visiting and bring their friends. We’ve also celebrated lots of familly events there-D’s wedding, family reunions, etc). My “new” baby granddaughter will go there for the first time this summer and we’re all excited. Good luck with your decision.


100% agree. There are usually services that do this, or you can find someone on your own.

You’ll eventually have two of everything after years of resisting, so you might as well buy the second toaster and coffee maker now and save yourself the trouble.


We have a pieds-à-terre in NYC where our kids live and we live primarily in CA. It is a small 1BR condo and after a gut renovation, I started fresh and bought everything new. I also have different sets of wardrobe there so I wouldn’t even need to bring a pair of socks. We are retired, worked hard for our money and now is the time to enjoy. I recommend that you do whatever is easier for yourself.


We are in the midst of this process right now. Our primary home is in Arizona, but we’d been looking to get out of the summer heat and back to the east coast for years, just waiting for DS to be fully launched and not need our house as his base. We purchased a four-season cabin in Maine in May and started moving in a month ago. Because we had already right-sized in AZ from the home we raised our son in, the new AZ house did not have a lot of spare anything, and what it did have, we gave to our son to start setting up his house in Georgia when he moved out after college graduation. So, we’re pretty much starting from scratch.

In the time between closing on the Maine property and actually heading out here, I kept a pad of paper and a pen on the kitchen counter and wrote down everything I used every day that I would need at the new place. Anything I found that I still had a duplicate of (or serviceable substitute), I immediately put in some boxes I had set up in the guest room (to be properly packed before we took off). I also went through every single item of clothing and shoes to decide if the item stayed in AZ, went to Maine, or in the Goodwill bag.

I did decide to take the KitchenAid (which I re-painted and posted about on the KA thread) and Cuisinart to leave in Maine. I will get newer replacements when we return to AZ in late October/November. Everything else we’ve purchased locally or from Amazon. It’s like Christmas with things arriving on our porch almost daily, but we’ve only recently moved from “glamping” to functional, and the effects of Covid on the supply chain will determine when we can return to AZ as we need to remain here until our sofa and bed platforms arrive late October-ish. We’ve already received our stove, but the fridge and convection microwave are still a few weeks out. The cabin has usable appliances, but the kitchen needs to support our cooking hobby, so new appliances it is.

We’ve also had to purchase items we never thought we’d see again — lawnmower, weed whacker, rake, shovel, etc. Though we’re in the forest and don’t plan any major landscaping, we still need basic tools that we don’t have at home. And, DH needs a basic shop, so he’s having fun outfitting that space with new tools. This place is fairly pristine and doesn’t need any major repairs (except a new roof which was accounted for during the purchase negotiation), but DH and I do all spruce up, painting, decorating, and minor repairs ourselves, so we need to have duplicates here of all those tools we have at the AZ house. We budgeted $20K above the cabin purchase price for all of the additional purchases we’d need to make this place as comfortable as our primary home. It looks like we’ll come in just under.

As others have posted upthread, our goal is to move easily between the two homes without taking anything but what we need to sustain us during travel between the two places.

As for overseeing each place when we’re not there, our primary home is in a gated, lock-and-leave community where we have a high percentage of seasonal occupants. The community provides guidance on how to shut your house down, how to monitor it when you are gone (the house is equipped with cameras, locks, thermostats, etc. that we can control remotely), and our community also provides security check-in and monitoring as part of our association fees. We have left our home unoccupied for a few months in the past, so we’re familiar and comfortable with our lock-and-leave procedures. We have equipped the cabin with the same remote automation, and we are part of an association here, too. We also have Maine friends and family who live here year-round who are willing to help if any of the remote systems detect any issues we can’t address from afar.

As this is our first full season away from our primary home, I’m sure we’ll have a few bugs to work out, but we’re having a blast setting up this new place, and we’re absolutely loving the weather and getting reacquainted with our favorite part of the country.

So I, too, will be watching this thread with interest. Thanks for starting it, @kiddie.


Facebook marketplace in the town you’ll be moving to is a good place to get inexpensive, nice furniture and some decent used household items.

We have security cameras all over the house, and one of them points at a thermometer so we can make sure the furnace is working and the pipes don’t freeze. I also turn off the water pump when we leave for an extended time to avoid flooding. In the event of a power outage, we have an automatic generator that runs the furnace, hot water, refrigerator and a few other things. We gave a neighbor a key in the event we have a problem, but we don’t have anyone check on it because we feel that the cameras show us what we need to see.

I keep basic food (flour, sugar, etc) in glass containers with a tight seal, and make sure I don’t leave any unsealed food that could attract ants or mice. I don’t know if this is an old wive’s tale or if it works, but I fill a cup with water and put it in the freezer, then when it’s frozen I put a quarter on top. Supposedly if the freezer thaws, the ice will melt a little and the quarter will go down into the ice a little.

The only thing I bring with me is clothes, otherwise everything I need is at the house.


My parents had two places, one in town and one in the country. I remember my mom always saying, “Where’s my sweater? Oh, I must have left it at the other house.” Eventually they gave up the city house and stayed full time in the country.


We also had security cameras along with water sensors near the hot water heater, under the sink, laundry room, in the basement. A neighbor had our key in the event of an emergency. Modern technology makes leaving much easier!


We have had two places for about fifteen years. We actually intended to find at least one job near the newer place and move, but didn’t, so now we will just retire there eventually. The first house is near kids and grandkids, and the second is near the beach. Both are paid off, so we’ll maintain both for a while.

These are only about two and a half hours apart, so I never feel I had to totally have everything set up in shore house. We move lawn tools back and forth, though gradually buying more new ones. Each has some clothes, but I always end up carrying a duffle down to the shore house rather than duplicate everything. We keep it stocked with food, but again, I’m often balancing back and forth–going shopping in the other house’s pantry. We started with very little furniture there, but did end up buying new things and fully furnishing in the first few years. The old house has mostly falling apart stuff, so when we do give it up, very little will come with us. I have gradually bought newer kitchen appliances as I realize I need them, again, with the thought that we will keep the newer shore house stuff and give away the older house stuff.

Because we are back and forth year round, we don’t worry too much about security. We do pay a young man in original neighborhood to pick up mail/packages, etc if we’re at the shore more than a few days in a row, but again, we are back and forth so much because of grandkids, that even in summer, we’re not often away for long.


Pro-tip #1: have a place at both places for stuff that you want to take to the other place next time you go. We have a basket at each place, because we fly, but when my brother & SIL got a second place we gave them the giant LLBean canvas bag with a zip top, because they drive. The baskets live by our bedroom door, and whenever we have something that needs to go to the other place we just toss it in (sometimes I’ll make a note, it it’s not something that can be sitting in the basket for a long time). When leaving time comes, everything is in one place (dump it in the suitcase / zip up the bag and go).

Pro-tip #2: have a full set of electronics chargers that live permanently at each place, and have a third set (or at least a third phone charger) that is only for while you are in transit.


@collegemom3717 , We do your pro tip one and it’s key!! Sometimes thinks are in the to-go box for months, and they’d almost certainly be forgotten otherwise.

We don’t do #2 and it would really help eliminate much panic and stress. There’s always that pre-departure moment of checking, then checking again, then looking at wall sockets, etc. that seems to elevate the heart rate. Gonna do that!Thanks!


We rented three different apartments, prior to buying in AZ. Because of the distance, transporting furniture was out of the question. Our son and his wife lived in the apartments and later, in the house we purchased. Renting was good because we found high crime rates in the area of our first rental. We purchased all used furniture, except for mattresses. Gradually, we are replacing some of the items with new. It’s been fun, because our OH house is very traditional and the AZ home is very modern. No one would guess the same people own both.
We also keep a pile of items to take with us, mostly duplicates from our main house. I almost threw in packages of steak knives for our upcoming trip, only to realize we aren’t checking bags this time. Sometimes we ship boxes to the vacation home. When our home isn’t occupied, we hire a home checking service to come in every other week.

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Yes to both of these–a place near each front door where things go that need to change houses, and chargers everywhere!


We have two homes, plus a 5th wheel that we keep at the 2nd locale.
We bought the furniture that was in the house (brand new, never used, prior owner passed away before they could move in) and have added a couple of pieces over the 6 years we’ve had it - new mattresses as needed, trundle sofa bed and a couple of chairs from ikea, the husband made a Murphy bed.
HomeGoods, Target, Costco, and shopping from our cupboards and late parents’ things for kitchen stuff.

We have duplicates of small appliances there as we found that taking over a mixer or crockpot or whatever was a pain, especially after forgetting something at either place more than once.

I still take over a bag of clothes, just in case :roll_eyes:

Staples are there, paper products, canned and frozen food (2nd freezer) and we bring perishables with us as the closest (small) grocery store is 30+ minutes away.
I also keep a week’s worth of prescription meds and some contact lenses, just in case.

When we camp, we transfer food & clothing from the house to the RV and back again.

When we eventually downsize from our big house we’ll probably get rid of most of the furniture and buy new things that fit in a smaller place.


I’ve had 2 homes a few times. I had a main home with all my nice stuff and my second home furnished with disposable furniture - Wayfair, Amazon, Ikea.
Aside from furnishing, keep the big T in mind - where would you want to claim as your primary resident for tax purpose. You will want to spend enough time in that state to make the claim.