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13 reasons why owning a vacation home is nothing like your apartment in the city

Be prepared to spend some serious time mowing — or pay someone else to do it.

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Even once you've saved the money, managed to find the perfect second home and actually purchased it, you're still in for quite a few challenges and surprises. One New Yorker who owns a second home in the Hamptons told us she forgot to pay her water bill for two years. Hey, we're New Yorkers after all—hopelessly dependent on our supers. But having a second country or beach house is "like being the super to your own building," one Catskills homeowner told us.

We asked second home-owners (beach and country houses alike) to tell us the surprises they came across, and to share tips for others looking to buy a vacation house:

Unexpected costs and bills

"I didn't expect to have to buy oil as often. We pay $1,200 twice a year." —Elizabeth, Catskills

"I literally did not know for two years that I had to pay the water bill. They shut my water off eventually. Some people forget to pay taxes, too, because they think it's built into the mortgage payments. It's not." —Julie, Westhampton

"We didn't realize that people in the country have exterminators on a monthly retainer service, or that we would need this and should budget for it! It costs about $80 a month. —Jamie, Dutchess County

"We had pipes burst last winter and that comes with costs and headaches. Now we have someone who comes by a couple of times a week in the winter to make sure nothing terrible happens. It's about 30 bucks a week for drive by pipe stops. " —Lindsay, Southampton

"​You need a regular housekeeper, so add that to the budget — and guess what? It's one of the few things that actually costs more outside the city, about $25/hour." —Jamie, Dutchess County

"Plowing the driveway caught me off guard. You need to have it done when when you're not there (and it costs us about $250 a winter), or else it accumulates." —Elizabeth, Catskills

"I have someone on retainer who checks if anything goes wrong. He's free until something goes wrong. And it always does. It's about $4,000 a year." —Julie, Westhampton

Time sucks

"I didn't expect my husband to be busy most summer weekends mowing the lawn (he can't hang with us as much as I envisioned)." —Elizabeth, Catskills

"Advice: Don't have guests every weekend all summer. It sounds like a nice idea when you're in planning it in the spring and throwing out casual invites, but it is absolutely exhausting." —Julie, Dutchess County

"Tip: Have Instacart delivered an hour before you leave on Fridays and dump it right into the car; otherwise grocery shopping ends up consuming Saturday mornings." —Julie, Dutchess County

Maintenance even when you're not there

"Pipe maintenance is a big issue. You need a system for monitoring the temperatures in winter to make sure that the pipes don't freeze and burst. A mistake in that area could completely ruin the house. A smart trick is to add an antifreeze mixture (the same stuff that people put in cars) to the heating pipes." —Lloyd, Catskills

"We do not want to invest the $2,000 to buy a generator, so we do not keep much in the freezer and fridge when we are not there in case of a storm." —Elizabeth, Catskills

"It's better to have a contracted service scheduled to take care of heating oil, or you're in for a rude surprise when you arrive on a 20-degree Saturday morning in January. (But did you know that you can bleed the line and fill it with a bit of diesel from the gas station in a pinch?!?)" —Julie, Dutchess County

***This story was first published on July 15, 2015

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