The Dream: House with a Pool




Ever since I was a little kid, I have always wanted a house with a pool.  I previously posted  that a serious desire of mine is to own a home with a pool.  While access to one would be great, a private one would be ideal.  My newest fascination is the concept of an indoor pool.  Living in Virginia, I justify to myself that we would be able to use the indoor pool year-round.  I know there are doubters out there who think I probably wouldn’t utilize a private pool that much.  Please don’t pop my dream just yet 🙂  Of course, most houses in Virginia with indoor pools usually are top-tier properties and therefore cost a lot of money.  I’m not sure I would be able to find a home with an indoor pool, in my price range, around here in the near future.


poolGrowing up, the kiddie pool in my backyard made me the most popular kid in the neighborhood.  I was truly a waterbug.  I even remember digging up my parents garden one year attempting to make a bigger and better pool with some of the neighborhood kids.  That did not go over too well with my dad.  At the age of four, I had to shovel all the dirt back into the hole that we had created.  I probably also got grounded for a month, but I don’t remember for sure.  Quick side note: while some of my punishments run together now, I distinctly remember being sent to my room this one time and told I couldn’t leave.  So naturally, I peed on the carpet in my room.  This obviously was a huge no-no, especially in light of my grandpa coming over to visit for the weekend.


Waterbaby by Birth

poolSpeaking of my grandpa, he owned his own pool company years ago.  He and my father actually built the White House pool, thanks to my grandpa’s friendship with President Gerald Ford.  My parents even have some Presidential glasses they received as wedding presents from the White House.  All that to say, my affinity towards swimming pools runs in my blood.


Unfortunately, shortly after I was born, my grandpa sold the pool business, and my dad switched careers into the IT world.  So, much to my chagrin, my family never had our own pool.  


I have been fortunate to have access to public pools over the years, though.  My other set of grandparents joined a pool in 1965, and my grandma is proud original member #18 there.  At 92 years old, she still goes up to the pool almost everyday to swim.  She’s amazing.  



As you know, residential pools are typically considered a liability when selling a house, at least in Virginia.  Additionally, an unheated outdoor pool is restricted to usage from around mid-June to mid-September in my area.  That’s only about three months out of the year that I’d be able to actually use an outdoor pool.  


According to most realtors in the area, pools are a deterrent to most potential buyers.  Between the maintenance and the liability, people just don’t want to deal with them.


I have mixed feelings about a pool now that I’m older.  While I still desire to have one, I am torn because having a pool with a small child is cause for concern.  I don’t think that I could live with myself if there was ever a fatal accident in my home’s pool.  


When the book Freakonomics was published, there was some uproar in the anti-gun community, when the authors provided data that revealed more children die in swimming pools accidents than gun incidents every year.  Naturally after learning that fact, I became less enthusiastic about owning a pool.  Safety is clearly an issue when it comes to pools, but I was still curious.  So, I researched the cost to install a pool.  


Cost of a Pool

poolMost pricing options fell anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 including a privacy fence, landscaping or an attached hot tub.  My eyes bulged out when I saw these costs, but I thought maybe my return on investment would make up for it.  Shockingly, I have seen figures between 6% – 30% depending on the area.  If I only received 20% back on my money, I wouldn’t ever be able to recoup a potential $40,000 – $80,000.  That’s money that could be spent investing in the S&P 500 or my fun 10% of my portfolio or traveling around to the best pools in the world.



poolOn top of that, I would need to factor in yearly maintenance, including pool chemicals, pool cleaning, and costs involved with opening and closing each season.  I’ve read that I would realistically be spending about $100 a month on this, and that figure might be low depending on the pool.  In addition, if the pool was heated, gas or electric bills could increase by $100-$200 per month to operate the pool.



Having a pool definitely attracts family and friends.  But the more people who use the pool, the more likely someone could suffer some sort of accident.  This is where I might need to increase my homeowners insurance.  While this shouldn’t cost a ton, it would still be an additional expense of around $30 per month.


Property Tax

Finally, here is the biggest kicker in my opinion.  Having a pool will require more paid towards property taxes, even though the pool may not bring an increase in value to the home when it comes time to sell. 


Adding up all these factors, I feel much less inclined to build a pool in my backyard.  As fun as it might be in theory, it probably makes more sense to find a neighborhood with a community pool so that we don’t have the liability or extra costs associated with a private pool.


My one glimmer of hope in terms of owning a private pool is that I might be able to find a steal-of-a-deal house with a pool since they are typically less desirable.

Do you have a pool?  If not, would you consider buying a house with one?  Share your reasons below.

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  1. Ultimately for much the same rationale you have here we went without a pool. A friend of mine has one and we did the math, in all the things you mentioned together it was coating 1200 dollars a year for his outdoor pool. He can use it 3 months a year. The YMCA costs us 1000 dollars a year, includes free daycare, a gym and a sauna. The Y won out.
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  2. After reading this post, I’m not sure I’d build a pool either. We don’t have one but we have a neighborhood pool we use frequently. My in-laws have a small lap pool in their house though and they are pretty serious swimmers. It seems like every time we’re over there though they just had to replace another item to the pool. The heater or different pumps, filters etc, it all sounds expensive!
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    • I’m hoping in our next house that we will have access to a pool. Preferably an indoor/outdoor pool area. That way we can swim year round. Especially since we have a little one with lots of energy.

  3. No, we don’t have a pool. I wouldn’t spend money on a pool for all the reasons you have mentioned.

    If I have $50K to $100K available, I would invest it in a good positive cash flow rental property in the mid-west – OR – invest it into market index tracking funds.

    I love swimming and enjoy the water. If you have such a strong desire for a pool, get a membership in a high end health club. The money spent is orders of magnitude less and you get to enjoy the pool. You can always cancel your membership at a later point in time without hurting your finances in a significant way.
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    • Your absolutely correct Michael.

      Getting a pool membership is more cost effective and more importantly I can cancel at anytime unlike a pool and pool maintenance.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. The one thing I hate about becoming aware of personal finance topics such as these is that they ruined my childhood dreams. Fancy car, nope. Big house, nope. And it goes on. Now will I eventually get these at some point in life? I think so but they will not be as soon as I had originally planned for many of the reasons you pointed out above. Need to get FIRE then enjoy the sweeter things.
    Stefan – The Millennial Budget recently posted…How I Graduated College Debt FreeMy Profile

    • You are absolutely right. If I had Mark Cuban type money you would not see me worry about having a sweet pool in the backyard with the big house and classic cars in the driveway. I know those things don’t make you happy but they do bring a smile to my face to think about!!!

    • With a one year old at home I would be incredibly worried if something ever happened to him do to my stupid desire to own a pool. I think you touch on an important aspect. Pools are not nearly as safe as people think. Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Pools are certainly expensive. It really depends on where you live. The best option is to have some close friends or family members who have a pool. Then you and the kids can swim anytime and you don’t have to spend the extra money it costs to have a pool. Both my parents and my in laws both have swimming pools and both live fairly close by. I probably will never get a pool just because of this fact. Here in Sacramento, the summer days often get well over 100 degrees, so having a pool near by is a must.
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    • Such good advice. Find friends and family that have pools that you can use. That way it’s free plus you don’t have to deal with the maintenance. Smart advice 🙂

    • The liability factor is huge. If something ever happened to someone because of a pool I don’t know how I would ever get over it. That’s probably the biggest deterrent for getting a pool for me,

  6. We are snowbirds living part of the year in NE Ohio, and the other half in our AZ home. The # of pools in AZ is unbelievable (unfortunately, the # of children who drown out here in a home pool is horrific). Of course you can use them often during the summer, and usually in spring and well into fall. We live in a 55+ community which has a gorgeous clubhouse w/indoor & outdoor pool – it’s like a resort! Cost of maintaining is included in our HOA fee. Still, many people in our community opt put in their own private pool. (unless this was for a health-related reason/issue, I just don’t get it! :-/ ) We are fortunate in that we are within close proximity to the clubhouse & walk to use the facilities regularly when here. The cost of having & maintaining a pool just seems a waste in our situation (we could certainly afford one – but why??!!). Now if we owned a home with no clubhouse pool/access to one – I’d definitely rethink this – no way in heck I’d be in AZ without access to a pool – especially in the warmer months!

    So, a thought for you with your “pool desires” would be to rent a really nice home through VRBO that has a pool – that way you can get a bit of a “fix” while not having to spend a fortune! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      I’m with you I don’t get why anyone would want a pool in their backyard especially if they were paying for a pool with their HOA fees. Seems somewhat redundant to me.

      I love VRBO. In the past when I’ve had a chance to rent a vacation home I always opt for the one with the pool.

      Thanks again for stopping by 🙂

  7. My cop out answer is that I wouldn’t want a pool, but mostly that is because I’m not really a big swimmer. The costs definitely outweigh the benefits for someone that doesn’t love swimming.

    It is definitely a tricky question for people that do love swimming. There’s got to be a point where the enjoyment that you would get out of it outweighs the costs. I think that has to be something that each individual decides for themselves, though, and has to be based on how much enjoyment you HONESTLY think you would get out of it rather than an idealized version of your life with a pool.
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    • You’re so right. The perceived enjoyment I don’t think could match the actual enjoyment. I know when we rent a beach house with a pool. That I maximize the time in the ocean and the pool because I won’t have access when I go home. But if I had it available everyday. I’m not sure I’d be able to fully utilize.

  8. We’ve never had a pool, and I don’t have a desire for one – mainly because of the maintenance involved. I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to buy a pool if it’s what you really want though. If you are in a good financial position and if you value having a pool over travel or other fun money uses, you’re entitled to make that decision. I don’t think it’s always necessary to have to justify a purchase with the question, “Will this give me a good ROI?” The choice is yours to make, and you’ve earned that freedom : )
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    • Thank you for the great advice Ruth. Too often I think what’s best on paper instead of what I really want. It will definitely be something that I need to evaluate further in the future 🙂

  9. Wow, that’s some interesting history your family has with pools! My parents had an above-ground pool when I was a kid, and I barely used it. I’m not the biggest fan of them, for whatever reason. My biggest pool-related memory from when I was younger involves my dad, cousin and I making a whirlpool and then consequently exploding the pool…fun times.

    However, my mom absolutely loves pools and hates the ocean. My parents are in a 55+ “active” community that has a really nice indoor pool that no one ever uses, so whenever I visit them, we always enjoy that. The community is in the process of building a heated outdoor pool as well. So I guess that’s a nice solution, although they have to pay HOA fees. Thankfully, my boyfriend’s brother has a pool and that’s where all the summer parties take place, so I don’t have to worry about it! I wouldn’t ever have one because of all the reasons you listed – cost and maintenance are a turn off for me, and the benefits definitely don’t outweigh the costs.

    • That’s crazy about your pool exploding. I’ve never heard of that before.

      I’ve heard over and over again that friends and family with a pool are the best friends to have if you want access to a pool.

  10. I can definitely see why you want a pool with all that history in your family. That’s pretty neat. You only get to live once so if it makes you happy then I’d say go for it.
    On my end, I think it’d be nice to have a pool, but it’s not important enough to me for the cost and maintenance. The is other reason is that I live in Toronto and prices here are outrageous. There’s no way I could afford a house with a pool right now.

    Hope you find that house you’re looking for!
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  11. Wow! A family history in the pool business — and involved in the White House pool at that. Very cool. It is a bit of an expensive feature. My parents had a pool for a few years when I was growing up and what I recall is that we swam in it a ton for the first year, and then it sat almost unused for a couple more years before we moved. Personally, it seems like not having a pool, but periodically traveling or visiting someone who does, works perfectly.

  12. Hey this is really interesting story. I have a pool story for you. My wife and I found this great house for our family and it was a great deal – only problem was that it had a pool and we had no idea what condition it was in. It was quite a risk because when we looked at the house there was about 3 feet of snow on the ground and the pool was covered. Apparently when you get a home inspection they don’t inspect the pool.

    The great thing was that all the pool needed was to be cleaned out and have water added and chemicals. I think it had sit there for a couple years with leaves in the bottom. It was pretty nasty but nothing a good cleaning couldn’t change. We ended up with a really nice large outdoor pool surrounded by wonderful flowers and plants.

    The end of the story: The pool was such a huge hassle and we had so many leaves and other things get into it that we decided to fill it in. I had to pay a contractor $5,000 to fill it in properly and pull a permit with the county. But I couldn’t be happier. Now I don’t have another chore on my list and a drowning hazard for the kids in my backyard. We got a pool membership and the kids are taking swimming lessons there! We love swimming but not at our house! Not worth it for us.
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    • Wow thanks for sharing. I had no idea it would cost $5,000 to fill a pool. Sounds like you made a great decision for your family and still have access to a pool 🙂

      • Yes it was going to be $5,000 to fix the pool liner that had ripped. But the contractor said we really needed a new pool which would be about $40,000. So I figured that I had a $5,000 cost either way and I should do what I really thought was the best long term solution which was to fill it in. And no, I didn’t even consider spending $40,000 on a pool! I’d rather have that money growing in the stock market.
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  13. We have an above-ground pool that came with our house. Our family uses the pool a ton during the summer and it’s a big part of our joint birthday party for the two oldest kids. There are some costs and responsibilities, but I like to think that we save on other recreation spending by just swimming together as a family. The pool is pretty old and we’ve talked about not replacing it when it finally kicks the bucket. I don’t think we would ever pay to have a pool installed, but it’s nice to have it.
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    • Thanks for sharing Harmony!!! I like to tell myself that I would use it a ton but I’m not sure if that will actually be the case. Glad to hear that you’re getting a ton of use out of your pool.

  14. We had a pool in the last 2 houses we owned and resided in. I don’t even swim 🙂 but l bought with future sale in mind. My husband loved it though. When we moved from Houston, l believe having the pool helped us sell the house really quickly. Like you say though, it is costly to maintain. We have one at our rental house now and come summer, it gets pricy. I still can’t swim 😉

  15. So naturally, I peed on the carpet in my room….ha, too funny.
    We like pools, actually visited one last sunday to have a swim with little Miss CF. But owning one, nope, for that €6 per visit it’s not worth the investment.
    We (well me) actually always wanted a long driveway with trees (not sure why). That certainly is not going to happen either, land and property values are way too high in this country.
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  16. Ha, I remember trying to dig a pool in the backyard with my brother…fortunately we did not get in trouble, just had to fill in the big mud hole we created.

    After having a 10 foot circular above ground pool one season, I’m pretty much cured of wanting a back yard pool. I wouldn’t mind having a neighborhood one within walking distance, but the maintenance even on our little one was a pain.
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    • Reading through all the comments I feel like I am seeing a common theme. Like you most people are disappointed with the after a season or two and don’t plan to replace it. Thanks for sharing

  17. I had an acquaintance who wanted a pool, so he and his wife had one dug in the basement of their home. They safely raised their son, teaching hime to be responsible around the pool. I think they used that pool every day for years. If you really want this, and it sounds like you do, I think it is a realistic dream.

    I would not buy a home with a pool myself…although, I read of a man who turned his pool into a jungle. That would be cool!

    Come to think of it, I tried to dig a pool, too, as a child. Poor frustrated waterbeds, all of us 🙂

  18. That’s an awesome story about the white house pool!

    We do have an above ground pool, it came with our house. While I wouldn’t have put one in, I do use it nearly every summer day. I did a write-up on the costs, and determined that maintenance was costing me ~$53 a month while the pool is open. That is an optimized cost with me doing all the cleaning.
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  19. My grandparents had a pool when I was a kid, and I pretty much lived in it whenever I’d visit, which was often.

    My father, on the other hand, was an avid swimmer but was a member of the local pools, even when we had access to a small one in our apartment complex. So summers spent with him were often in or under the water, all day, every day.

    That said, I’d never own my own pool. If I had anything, it would be a hot tub, but I wouldn’t want to pay the heating and maintenance. I’d much rather join a gym where I’d have access to pool, hot tub, sauna, and the works.

    BTW, love the photo of the Hearst Castle pool. Now that’s a beautiful pool. If you ever have a chance to see it in person, do so.
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  20. Pretty cool story about your grandfather and the White House pool. Living in the northeast, I could see how it’s not really worth it. Only a few months out of the year you can use it…plus higher property taxes while not adding value to your house. I guess it’s not the same, but what about an above the ground pool that isn’t as costly.

  21. We’re in the process of building a manufactured home in a community and have access to a wonderful community pool. I’ve never been much of a water person, so the pool itself wasn’t an incentive to move to this particular community. But, after seeing it, it really is a beauty and might get me swimming more often. As for ever owning a home with a pool, I really never thought too much about it. Although, we have family in Arizona and they own pools because it’s so darn hot in the summer. But even in Arizona, they only use them between May and September. Go figure.

  22. My neighbor has a pool, they are a retired couple with their grown children Has already moved out. I see the older gentlemen in the mỏrning clean up leaves and debris. Occasionally, I see a crew coming to mess with the filter no check the chlorine level or some sort of testing. They have their pool open from May to October, but I rarely see anyone in the pool. Of my 10 years living here, I’ve actually saw someone in the pool twice. That was it.

    The amount of work they had put into their pool is enormous. That’s not going to say you don’t use it to the full potential as they do, but setting aside at least an hour every 2-3 days to clean up is no feast.

    We recently came back from our honeymoon where we get to use the hotel’s pool everyday. Mr. w saw that I enjoy it very much and we talked about getting a pool or a gym membership so I could go to the gym with him. The gym at work is $24/2 paycheck, but it still think I might not make it to the gym more than 4x/month.

    There is always something.
    But no matter what people say, if you really like to have a pool, get yourself a pool. Just build it yourself, it’s probably cost $1000 to rent equipment, $2000 for 2 guys, and $1000 for a Mexican guy who can do tiles, and $1500 for materials. Hiring contractor is not going to get your investment back.

    As far as pool safety, water in the back of the house is not very good fengshui. But most people use the back door as front door, so I’d say it’s doesn’t matter. It’d be good to train your children to swim. But a good high gate on it, and teaching safety from the very beginning, get all of your base cover, it’ll be fine.

    There is always community pool in the somewhat high scale neighborhood. 🙂

    Best of luck.

    • Thanks for stopping by Vivianne.

      I think you’re probably right. I should find a nice neighborhood pool. It’s probably a much better selling point.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  23. Wow, I’ve always wanted a house with a pool. In fact, I’ve been planning to buy one for years. As I’m getting closer to making the purchase, I’ve started to consider all the things you’ve mentioned, especially if my child or a guess’s child was injured. Accidents do happen, but it would be devastating. My wife supports my dream but would rather we get a house with a very nice neighborhood pool. We’re just a few years away from buying our forever home so I, we, still have time to make a final decision.

    • I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling with the decision. Pools seem really awesome but in the comment section you can see a lot folks hated the maintenance involved. Maybe I can just move to a lake and swim 🙂

  24. I live in South Florida, down here, we could use a pool 365 days a year. My neighbor has a pool, and I don’t see them using it more than once a month. I think they used it everyday for a month when they first got it. Now, I just see the pool maintenance guy by the pool more than I see the owners of the pool. They are probably out working more hours to make the money to pay for that pool. It’s especially funny because we live 10 minutes from some of the best beaches in the world.
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    • I think if I lived 10 minutes from the best beaches in the world I might skip the pool and enjoy the free access to the beaches 🙂

      But to each their own!!!

      Thanks for sharing!!!

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