(This article was originally published on KevinMD under the title Should Physicians Own Timeshares?)
Timeshares have an undeserved bad rap. I’ve owned and used my timeshare for great and cost-effective vacations all over the world for 30 years. After getting tired of reading all the misinformation on the web concerning timeshares, I put my timeshare experience in my newest best-selling book, A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare.
I believe one of the biggest reasons timeshares get bad press is the wrong people buy them. When they become unhappy, because their lifestyle, amount of vacation time or pocketbook doesn’t allow them to fully enjoy their timeshare, they spread negative vibes. When you learn how to effectively use a timeshare, it is clear that physicians are a great fit to be happy timeshare owners just like I have been.
There are millions of happy timeshare owners out there who are not being heard, and this lack of positive information is hurting physicians who would be well served by owning a timeshare. Here are the characteristics that make physicians happy timeshare owners. (Please note: I am not associated with the timeshare industry except that I purchased one timeshare week 30 years ago.)
#1 Physicians have enough vacation time each year to enjoy timeshare ownership.
To fully enjoy a timeshare, you need to have vacation time available to travel. Most physicians have more than 3 weeks of vacation time each year. I own a single timeshare week and traded it for eight weeks of vacations this year.
Most physicians do not have eight weeks of vacation, but they do have enough to take advantage of the hacks that allow us to trade our timeshares for more weeks than we own. Learning these hacks will save a fortune in travel accommodations.
Many unhappy timeshare owners are people who only have two weeks of vacation and they use them every year to visit relatives, go to a class reunion, and take a day off here and there to take a long weekend or do something special for the day. There is no place in their schedule to fit in their timeshare week. Since they don’t use their week, but paid a maintenance fee for their unit, they are unhappy they have not received value for their money. This is not the fault of the timeshare. Those who don’t have enough vacation time to use it should not own a timeshare, but most physicians have enough vacation time.
#2 Physicians have enough disposable income to take upscale vacations
Although it is very cost effective to use a timeshare for your lodging, the other costs that go with such a vacation can become expensive. Take, for example, my recent timeshare trade to Orlando. The timeshare accommodations only cost me $199 for the week but the extras are expensive.
If a family of four was to take this trip they would also have needed four airplane tickets, a car rental, five days of Disney tickets and food for four people as well as anything else they planned to do or buy while in Orlando. These extras would probably cost more than $4,000. The cost of the timeshare was the biggest bargain of the week, saving more than $1,000 over the cost of staying at a hotel.
Many people who complain about their timeshare are mad because they cannot afford to take a trip like this every year. Physicians, on the other hand, can afford to take annual vacations like this, so they would be a good fit to own a timeshare and save a considerable amount on their vacation housing.
#3 Physicians can afford to pay cash for their vacations
Most people who buy timeshares do so with borrowed money, thinking they are making an investment.
First off, you should never pay more than a couple thousand dollars for a timeshare on the secondary market.
Secondly, timeshares are not an investment, they are a vacation expense. Vacation expenses are never considered investments. Vacationing should also never be done with borrowed money. If you don’t have the money to pay for a vacation, you have no business going on that vacation.
Physicians have the money to pay for vacations without using debt. Those who read my book will learn how to save hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime by vacationing in timeshares like I have.
I didn’t know better and made the mistake of paying retail for my timeshare when I purchased it 30 years ago. Had I known how to get one on the secondary market, I would have saved a lot of money. Even with paying a high price for my initial purchase, and all the fees I have had to pay over the 30 years, my average cost is just over $600 a week for all my timeshare vacations over the years. You will have a hard time finding a good hotel for that price let alone a three bedroom, two bath, unit with a kitchen, living room and lots of amenities on site.
#4 Physicians usually have flexibility in their vacation times
Many unhappy timeshare owners have inflexible vacation schedules. They work for someone who doesn’t allow them to take time off anytime they want. Those who only have two weeks of vacation a year with scheduling restrictions have a much more difficult time using their timeshare.
Physicians usually have very flexible vacation time options. I always booked my vacations more than a year in advance so the call schedule could be made around my vacation plans. When you have great flexibility, you can get the most from your timeshare.
If you can only take off the second week of January, you might not find an available timeshare in a locations you seek as there are only 4,000+ to choose from in the world.
But if you want to go to a tropical beach sometime in January or February, you can easily find a timeshare that meets your stipulations. When you find the timeshare trade you want in the fourth week of January, you can then book that as a week of vacation.
When you have vacation date flexibility, the availability of the trades you want is vastly improved. Physicians have the flexibility to use timeshares effectively.
#5 Physicians have the knowledge to use the system
Being a good fit for this vacationing option is not enough. You also need to learn how to get the most out of the system in which timeshares are traded. Physicians have the knowledge and capacity to learn the hacks of the system. If we can figure out the Krebs cycle, we can figure out the timeshare trading system.
The timeshare industry has evolved. When I first purchased my timeshare, I didn’t have the ability to make multiple trades with my single week of ownership. With the new trading systems, I can get all the weeks of vacation I want out of my one week of ownership.
Because of this knowledge, there is rarely a good reason for a physician to own more than a single week. Owning a week gets your foot in the door and gives you access to the trading system. I now trade for 7-8 weeks a year with my week, and I could get even more. But I also want to take cruises and use my motorhome, so I can’t be vacationing with my timeshare all the time. I also want to be home some of the time to see my new grandson.
When I am going anywhere for an event, before I get a room at the hosting hotel, I check to see if I can get a timeshare nearby, knowing that the accommodations will be better and cost much less than the hotel.
My recent trip to Orlando for FINCON22 was a great example. Five nights in the hotel where the event was held would have cost me about $1,250. I found a timeshare to trade into that was four miles away and it only cost me $199 for the week (+ a $9 Uber ride each way for 8 trips). I saved enough money to pay for a first class airplane ticket instead of flying coach. I enjoy bargains like this several times a year.
If you are a physician, don’t fall for the tall tales you have heard from people who do not know how to use their timeshare, or were never good candidates to own one in the first place. Their mythical stories include: You must stay at the same place every year, the maintenance fees are too expensive, you can never trade for what you want, etc.
Don’t get your advice from someone who can’t figure out how to use their timeshare. Learn what you need to know from those who are successfully doing what you want to do, inexpensively stay at great places with multi-room, upscale accommodations. They have the answers.
The final chapter in A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare has quotes from happy timeshare owners who I interviewed as I walked around the pool where I stayed. Their tips and hacks are very valuable. I didn’t find a single person unhappy with their timeshare purchase. Every one of them thought they got good value for their money. Those are the people you want to ask about their timeshare experience.
Have you had a good timeshare experience with your ownership? If so, I’d love to hear from you.