"Greener" than individual ownership?

If you own a holiday property as an individual, you're unlikely to use it personally for more than a couple of months a year. That means that probably it will be standing empty, closed up for the majority of the time.

Unoccupied houses are a death-knell to small communities, as they can't support the local culture and activities which may have been one of the major factors which attracted you there in the first place.

Once the proportion of second homes passes a critical point, there aren't enough full-time residents to support essential social facilities such as schools, post offices and public transport. If these stop being available, the full-time residents find life harder, and start to move away.

Often there is then no longer enough demand to make commercial activities (shops, restaurants and so forth) worthwhile. A vicious circle starts, which results in more property being put on the market and bought only as second homes, with further loss of full-time residents.

After a while, the community collapses and the place becomes "dead", other than for maybe a few weeks "high season".

However you look at it, it is an unfortunate fact that as a second home owner, you might be part of that problem. Can you can do anything to counter-act these negative effects, while still meeting your own ambitions?

Of course the answer includes keeping the property occupied much more of the time than just for your own visits, with occupants supporting local businesses and social activities. But as an individual owner however you can only do this by having renters come to your property. That will usually be easiest in the "high season" when you would like to be there yourself.

And it doesn't help the community much. Unless you have renters who come back year after year, they're unlikely to be particularly motivated to support the local community (even if they know what's there), rather than others in the region. 

But suppose you are part of a small group of say 4 like-minded people or familiies. This brings quite a few advantages to the community.

  • Occupancy of your property by its owners will be four times as much. It will certainly be very significantly more than if the property was just rented to other holiday-makers.
  • Occupation will be distributed more evenly throughout the year, and not be crammed into a short high season.
  • Owners all have the same interest in keeping the local facilities available out of season, so this support is multiplied by four as well. 
  • With several owners equally concerned about looking after their property at a high standard, it is much easier to afford good quality local suppliers for everything from maintenance to cleaning and taxi services. 
  • Being able to communicate quickly with fellow owners makes it easier to pass on local advice and recommendations. Pass on suggestions about restaurants and other attractions. If you find a really enjoyable village festival one year, recommend it to the others even if you can't get there yourself the next year. 

In this way, a small group of owners can become even more "integrated" and supportive of a small community than any single owner who comes in person for only three weeks a year. So overall, a home owned and used by several families is far more eco-friendly than one with a single owner, but that's left empty most of the time.  

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