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I live on San Juan Island, but I have a second home in the wilderness without even a television or cell phone coverage. Lots of people have second homes in the San Juan Islands. What is it that makes a second home work? Here is what I think

1. A second home should be a different setting for you that will refresh your attitude and leaves you pleased to return to your first home. It also gives you a place to dream about and escape to when things at your first home or job get stressed. You can create this different atmosphere in many ways. If you live in a setting that is urban, you can look for a second home in a more rural place, for example. You can search for a climate that varies from the one where you reside. You can buy a small cottage if you live in a big main house; you can go where there are no neighbors if you live in a development or condo.
2. Getting to your second home should be affordable and achievable. You may have to fly or drive or boat for the trip, but it should not be an expense in time or money that prevents you from going or at least feeling like you could go, frequently.
3. It should be a place where relaxation is the key. That means no lawns to mow, very little upkeep, simple amenities and working appliances. If it is a place you can “lock and walk” then you can come with you book, sit by the window, and read. The whole idea of a getaway is that you are getting away from everyday work and obligations.
4. It should be fun to personalize. Here is your opportunity to have a space for your hobby and leave the project out when you are gone. You can fill the room with the comfort and appeal of just what you like: family photos, finds from your travels, your favorite books, recipes, and shabby furniture. We had fun outfitting our second home with garage sale items. Going to garage sales became a weekend hobby for us that still survives. Some of the things you purchase are repeats of the things you already have that you know you will need in both places. Other sale items can take you in brand new exciting and eclectic decorating journeys that can enliven your sense of humor.

You may find, as I have, that a second home becomes a mental escape as well as a real physical place to go. You will end up checking the weather in this other place, reading the online news about events, history, controversies. You will find new friends who know you as a different person than those in your hometown who grew up with you or those who do business with you.

The San Juan Islands make a perfect escape for people from Seattle and other parts of Washington State. It rains half as much, so the climate is different. With no freeways, malls, or stoplights; the traffic is a two lane situation. The two national parks and other smaller parks make hiking and beachcombing available to everyone. And, like most islands, there is a low-key attitude and casual dress. Friendly people, good food, interesting entertainment and peace and quiet abound. If I didn’t live here, I’d buy a second home here for sure! In my opinion, we all need some kind of escape and some of us are lucky enough to have one that is not just imaginary.

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