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Should You Buy a Home for Retirement with a Swimming Pool

Category: Retirement Real Estate

September 16, 2014 — One of our members, Caps, posted this question on another Blog topic, the results of our recent Retirement Confidence survey. SandyZ suggested that since it generated a fair amount of discussion, we move the swimming pool conversation here to give it its own place. Good suggestion!

Another question for the other readers…. There hasn’t been a blog addressing this issue that I am aware of.
We plan to purchase our retirement home next week. We will be choosing from 5 that intrigue us. One home has a full underground pool, one has one of the best rated above ground pools, with decking to boot, one has a swim spa (swimming against jets, plus a hot tub all in one unit 16?), one has a regular hot tub that seats 6 and one has no pool or spa, but a great location.
So the question……do any of you have any experience with pools or spas? We do not, however believe it would be a good feature for exercise as we age. We live so far up north, owning and heating a pool seemed nonsensical to us. We are planning a relocation to eastern TN, where water features are quite common.
We could really use some advice and help with our decision. We have no idea how any of these choices would affect our budget. PLEASE HELP

Posted by Admin on September 18th, 2014


  1. These are the comments that we moved from the original post:

    From Ella:
    Congratulations on choosing your location; sounds like you’re well on your way! As for a pool, Tennessee, including Eastern Tenn., gets hot in the summer; and a pool will help you enjoy your retirement during those hot summer months if you use it. Just make sure yours is long enough to swim in. I had an above the ground that was round, and while doing laps would ‘bonk’ my head on the supports. It is wonderful to be able to go outside on a hot day and not be closed inside, even if you do have central air. The in-the-ground may cost more to maintain (not sure), but is a lot nicer to use, esthetically, and (as per the experience of friends) keep the PH balanced.
    My best to you, ella.

    From Sandy Z
    CAPS – not sure if this belongs here either, so admin. may want to move our comments to another article. We have had an inground lap pool for 11 years in Maine, of all places! We absolutely love it, although we clearly use it for only 4-5 months of the year, and have to heat it because the nights are so cool here in the summer. Two suggestions: 1. Use a salt chlorinating system – no chlorine or other chemicals and the water absolutely sparkles and has a soft feel – no green hair, no damage to swimming suits – and God knows what else! Your pool dealer can provide all the info and costs. 2. We also have a hot tub / spa – it is definitely more high maintenance! Lots of chemical monitoring and cleaning. It is however used more than the pool, year round even here. Very therapeutic for aging joints and muscles. If I had to pick just one, I would pick the hot tub at this stage of life. Our future choice is to move into a retirement community that offers both indoor and outdoor pools, and several spas – they do the work and maintenance! Good luck in TN!

    From Kathy:
    for 30 years in New Jersey we had an in ground pool. When things were going well it was great, when things were wrong it was usually a disaster. I w ish now I had the money we spent on maintained, pool chemicals and r e pairs. Do your research before committing. Good luck!

    From Caps:
    Thank you for all your input. I certainly like the sound of the salt over chlorine. Do you know if it is more difficult to maintain? Can it also be used in a hot tub?
    I would also prefer the condo concept with the community room and pools/spas, however they are always too far from a full service airstrip (DH’s hobby). He also doesn’t think he will mind doing yard work when he is retired.
    As for research…….this is it. Do you know where else to check? Even pool dealers won’t tell us how much the maintenance or chemicals will cost over a years time. I’ve tried a few websites, yet they don’t tell that either. Do you think it will be more than $100.00 per month?

    From Jennifer
    My aunt is opting for a salt pool for her Florida home when it is built next year. I like the idea of no chlorinated water or excessive chemicals. She does not think it will be expensive to maintain and she is going to hire a company to take care of it for her.

    From Ted
    Another former in-ground pool owner here (PA). I just sold my home with the pool, and will be grateful not to have to deal with chemicals, maintenance, and emergency repairs again. Chemicals were about $100-$125 month. Opening and closing the pool seasonally was about $350 each time, plus occasional costs for covers, toys and floats, and other miscellaneous. A major repair was needed about every 3 years, such as pool heater, pump, liner, etc. Utility costs probably only added about $20/mo to my utility budget, thanks to reasonable utilities in PA. My homeowners’ insurance did not increase because of the pool. I probably spent about 3-5 hours a week on pool maintenance. My pool guy said that he’d charge $70/week to keep up the pool for me. He charged $50/visit to come and help out with particular problems, like when I had cloudy water that I couldn’t get clean even with the suggestions of the local pool supply store that tested water for free.

    We installed a pool in lieu of a hot tub, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Instead of a hot tub, we chose to install the largest and deepest bathtub we could find in a remodeled bathroom and then added a tankless water heater. It simplified cleaning and maintenance of chemicals, but still provided a spa experience. That giant tub is the one thing that I miss in the house we purchased.

    by Admin — September 18, 2014

  2. From SandyZ
    Regarding a salt- chlorinated pool, the upfront cost to install the chlorinating system is a bit more but the cost of the salt is so much less than all of the chemicals. Our pool is 12×40, a lap pool, and is used mostly by the two of us, with heavy use when family and grandchildren visit during the summer for 4 weeks or so. We open the pool in May and close at end of September and use two bags of salt at about $25.00 each for the summer. That is all! Opening and closing by a pool company run about $350.00 each. Propane to heat the pool is very costly here in Maine and we spend about $600.00 for the summer, as well as increase in electricity to run the whole operation to the tune of about $400. In terms of upkeep, we have an automated sweeper which runs along the bottom every morning, but still must skim by hand daily as well as a thorough vacuuming by hand weekly. We have many trees on our property and they “shed” all summer! Our hot tub costs a lot more in chemicals and is more work – draining and scrubbing regularly. Hope this helps with specific info!

    by Admin — September 18, 2014

  3. Wow! Thanks everyone for all your assistance. So, should I assume that a hot tub would have more maintenance and expense than a pool? We also plan to travel home to MN a couple months during the summer. Will we need a service to come and check the water during our absence? If so, how often?

    by Caps — September 18, 2014

  4. Caps,
    I’ve lived in my current home for 25 years and it has a beautiful pool and spa. Now that the kids are gone and we’re retired, the pool gets little use and it requires maintenance. Chemicals $50/month, electric $75/month, then there are replacement equipment costs – new pump $1000, filter 1,000, hoses, lights, acid baths, etc, don’t forget insurance, property taxes etc. someone has to care for it while we are on vacation too. It’s hot where I live but still can only use it 3 months of the year. Spa any time.

    by John H — September 18, 2014

  5. Dear Caps ,
    I am a native Californian and have been a swimming fiend for more than 50 years . I also have a terrible low back with constant pain , so I have owned a hot tub and in ground plaster pool for 25 years . I do all of my own maintenance and repairs on both . I used to teach swimming and have been around pools and hot tubs all omit adult life .

    My above -ground hot tub is soooo simple to take care of compared to the pool . Time and money spent on it are one tenth of what the pool requires . I recommend a Hot Springs portable spa big enough for 5 to 6 people if just you and your husband will be the only users . Get a 110 volt instead of a 220volt . The latter increases the assessed value of your home and can bump up the taxes . The former is truly portable by building code and can be written off your taxes as a medical device if your doctor writes a Rx . You can also write off chemicals , electricity , repairs , etc. for as long as you use it !
    I have an indoor/outdoor model which you can fit through a standard door if you want to use it inside the home . I still have the same tub I bought in 1989 ! ! and it looks almost new . Keep it in the shade . Direct sun will destroy it . To not use bromine or chlorine , you can have an ozinator installed in the plumbing . An electric charge zaps the bacteria .

    As for pools , in ground is the way to go . Above ground models are rinky dink . The “salt” water is not like salt water from the ocean . It is the way to go vs. a typical pool kept sanitized with trichloro. Skin feels great and you don’t smell afterwards .

    Hope this helps . Best hassle free surface for new pool is fiberglass , not plaster . Brushing it is a dream .

    by Don Smith — September 19, 2014

  6. I am so tired of maintaining our pool. When we move after retirement, I don’t want another pool. Ours is about 15 years old and I’ve replaced all the pool equipment and it is expensive stuff. Something is always breaking or needs cleaning. Most of the neighbors hire a pool service to take care of cleaning and we might break down and do that also. While both of us are still working full time, there are other things that we would rather do than maintain the pool. That goes for yard work also. When we originally put in the pool, we had four boys at home. We though they would enjoy it but they had very little interest in it, and little interest in helping to maintain it. It was a $30000 mistake.

    by LS — September 19, 2014

  7. Oh my gosh! The house we purchased a year ago, has a salt water pool in it and I love it! I bought a $600 robot to clean the bottom of the pool and occasionally have to add a bag of salt and perhaps some muriatic acid. I have some physical ailments, so swimming is about the only thing I can do that doesn’t hurt my back and joints. However, you have to enjoy water otherwise, it will be a big old pain.

    by Vickie — September 19, 2014

  8. In South Florida, we had a pool for many years, the expense and extra work entailed is significant. This was already 10 plus years ago and the chemicals were over $100 a month and the electricity to run that pump another $50 never mind lighting, refinishing as necessary and maintaining a screen enclosure. When we were ready to move, any house that had a pool was not on our buy list unless we were considering filling the darn thing in. It is not something I would do again EVER. We now live waterfront and there is a lake if anyone is inclined. The expenses really add up and pitfalls are many.

    by Lorrie — September 19, 2014

  9. During my life time we have owned 2 properties with in ground swimming pools. I won’t go into all the expense, work, liability etc but suffice it to say = NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER AGAIN. 1st time was fogivable – 2nd pool was DUH! Join the YMCA!

    by Robert — September 19, 2014

  10. No more pool maintenance for us! Been there did that…Retired to a development with pool and clubhouse…just bring our cooler (for happy hour, lol) and towels..come and go as we want..let the upkeep to the pool crew! :-))

    by sunlovingal — September 19, 2014

  11. We had a pool when I was a child. I still remember my dad complaining about the costs and that was 50 years ago! I also remember helping him clean it when I was older. Not worth the work and costs involved! When we were looking for a house to purchase when we retire, he wanted a pool and I said no. I agree with sunlovingal. We are buying in a community that has a pool. That way, we are not the only one responsible for the costs associated with owning it.

    by Sunny — September 19, 2014

  12. You have to want to have a pool and think you can use it to justify the upkeep. We just recently moved to south Florida after spending our whole lives in Ohio. While there we had two outdoor pools and an indoor pool. The grandkids of course loved the indoor pool in the winter and the upkeep on it was minimal when compared to the outdoor pools. Of course the electric bill was higher becasue of heating the room but you used about 1/4 the amount of chemicals because the sun didn’t eat them away. Our Fla. house has a pool also and we love it. My wife has arthritis and it’s the only exercise that doesn’t hurt her joints. I’m fortunate in that I can pay a pool service to maintain it and it’s a salt pool and I agree with everyone who has commented that it’s the only way to go as I can attest after having had 3 chlorine pools. Bottom line is, it’s where your priorities lie. If you’re going to use the pool then by all means look for the houses with pools, just know there will some maintenance costs.

    by Bill — September 20, 2014

  13. Wow…. all this pool negativity. I’ve had two above ground pools…. simple simple simple… best thing every, easy to maintain. Open/Close without difficulty. Placed in area as not to be eyesore. It’s been a GREAT experience and very little overall expense. I probably would never do an inground pool. Still shaking my head. Pool gets good use from June to September in Connecticut.

    by Carol F. — September 20, 2014

  14. I have a in ground pool with a built in hot tub for about 15 years. I have absolutely loved it, but it is expensive. Replacing pumps, heaters, etc. I will be downsizing and there will be no pool. I will just have to spend more time swimming in lakes and maybe a hottub .

    by Marcia — September 20, 2014

  15. We had a large above-ground pool for 13 years and had to replace the pump after 11 years. When the liner went after a particularly brutal (snowy) winter, we gave up on the pool. (Our kids were no longer using it at the time, so it seemed right). But i’m writing this to say that we didn’t have to make many repairs in 13 years.

    I guess we’ve all had different experiences.

    by ella — September 21, 2014

  16. Thank you Everyone for the great responses. We have three showing appointments lined up for tomorrow. We are still wondering how many weeks a pool or hut tub can be left alone while we are traveling or visiting other states. Does anyone know that? BTW one hut tub is in its own separate building and we were considering covering a pool with a separate sunroom, to get year round use from it……would that change the answer?
    Thank you everyone ………LOVE this blog. A+++++

    by Caps — September 22, 2014

  17. In case anyone is following this blog………
    We are currently working with our realtor on a PA for a home with a hot tub. Should we have the owners empty it before closing? City water and sewer applicable there. We like that salt idea.

    by Caps — October 8, 2014

  18. Caps, good for you! Glad you were able to make a decision on the hot tub/pool; and even more, your new home!

    by ella — October 9, 2014

  19. Thanks Ella. THere has been a delay in submitting the paperwork through the realtors, but we have made our decision. Then, it will be a matter of them accepting our offer. Tick tick tick…….

    by Caps — October 9, 2014

  20. It has been more than a year. What’s the rest of the story? Happy ending?

    by Sallie50th — March 30, 2015

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