Choosing a family vacation spot can be challenging. You need to find somewhere that has all the amenities you need, especially if you’re traveling with children, that still fits within your budget. A timeshare might be one option that you should consider — but is it the best choice for your family vacation? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of purchasing a timeshare to help you decide if you should consider this purchase instead of a hotel for your next vacation.

Pro: You’ve Got a Secured Spot Every Year

Renting a hotel room during peak vacation times can be challenging. Not only are you going to pay more to secure your place, but it may be impossible to find a room close to the attractions you want to visit. Purchasing a timeshare means that even during the busiest vacation months, you have a guaranteed place to stay. Timeshares are almost always located in or near hot vacation spots, so you’ll have plenty to do during your week away from home.

Con: Timeshares Require a Significant Initial Investment

Timeshares are only something you’ll want to consider if you have a lot of disposable income. The average timeshare requires a substantial initial investment. According to the American Resort Development Association, the cost of timeshares averages $19,000 plus more than $600 a year in maintenance fees.

Now, this isn’t bad, considering the average family of four spends more than $4,500 a year on their annual vacation. If you have the disposable income available, a timeshare could potentially pay for itself in four or five years. But you have to be able to make that first large payment.

Pro: It’s More Affordable Than a Vacation Home

Owning a vacation home can be one way to secure your annual vacation spot, but you have to consider the costs of purchasing the home, maintaining it, paying for homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. Owning a timeshare is much less expensive in the long run even if you take the annual maintenance fees into account.

With a timeshare, you also don’t have to worry about maintaining the property yourself or repairing it if something breaks.

Con: It Leaves You Vulnerable to Scammers

Scammers are always looking for a way to trick people out of their money, and they love targeting timeshare owners. You might get a call one day from someone who claims to represent a company that helps people sell their timeshares. They’ll claim they have a buyer lined up, and all you need to do is send some money to cover things like various fees and closing costs.

Once you send the money, these supposed resellers will disappear, taking your hard-earned funds with them. Be wary of anyone who calls you offering to help you sell your timeshare — especially if you’re not looking to sell. Remember the golden rule of real estate: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pro: You May Be Able to Trade Times/Locations

In most cases, when you purchase a timeshare, you’re locked into using it for the same week every year. But you do have some options for flexibility. People are often willing to trade times and locations — you use their timeshare for a week while they use yours. Most timeshare companies don’t care who’s using the property as long as the maintenance fees are paid.

Make sure you double-check your contract to make sure you’re allowed to swap times or locations with other owners.

Con: You Don’t Get Much Variety

One of the downsides of purchasing a timeshare is that you end up going to the same place every year. If you prefer to have a bit more variety in your vacations, a timeshare isn’t going to be the best choice for you. If you like going to the same beach or the same restaurant or attraction as a treat every year, a timeshare can be a more cost-effective option than trying to book a hotel in the same locale.

Should You Choose a Timeshare?

So, should you purchase a timeshare?

That is entirely up to you. You need to make sure you have enough disposable income to afford the initial investment and you will need to be on the lookout for scammers. But if you don’t mind visiting the same locale every year, a timeshare can be a cost-effective way to plan your vacation. You’ll have a guaranteed spot every year and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to find somewhere to stay for your annual trip.