For those who have have a second home in Puerto Vallarta, while still maintaining a property back in the U.S. or Canada, there are concerns regarding what to do with it when it is not being regularly used. If the property is left vacant, it is usually a good idea to at least have someone regularly checking on the property, especially over the summer months when humidity levels are high. They can air it out on a regular basis, clean it, and ensure that there are no problems with the water, electricity and appliances. Once humidity gets into furniture, rugs and clothing, it is difficult to get out and leaves a rather unpleasant smell in the apartment.

But many have discovered ways to make better use of their apartment, rather than leaving it vacant during the times it isn’t being used. Here’s some ideas to get a better return on your investment:

  1. Rent It: The most common idea for obtaining better use of one's apartment is to rent it out. Renting brings in income that can help offset the costs of holding the property, such as paying for HOA fees. There are a number of rental agencies that can assist with this and also provide support for regular cleanings. Or, you can try organizing it on your own using online rental sites such as VRBO.com, Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com and even Booking.com is now involved in short term rentals.
  2. Exchange It: You can also exchange your property for one located in another country or place through online exchange sites such as Homeexchange.com. This works best if it is your (and their), second property, as you don’t have to do simultaneous exchanges. They can use your place during the winter while you could use their summer property at a later date. It offers a lot more flexibility for both properties. You don’t receive any income, but you get the use of a property somewhere else that you otherwise would have paid for. Exchanges can be in the U.S. or Canada, or elsewhere such as in Europe or Australia. These sites offer thousands of options. There, however, a cost to join, so you want to ensure you will use the service.
  3. Swap It: A newer but similar service to exchanging isLoveHomeSwap.com, which provides points instead of direct exchanges. You provide your property for a “swap” and in exchange you receive points that you can use at a later date for another property in the system. It provides even more flexibility in the exchange process.
  4. Barter It: You can also exchange your property for services you may need. Perhaps there is work to be done around your primary home. You can offer the contractor or service provider the option of exchanging part of the work for time at your property in Puerto Vallarta. You pay less and they get a nice vacation (and pay less taxes). Not as flexible as an exchange service, but I’ve heard of people bartering their property in PV for dental and legal work, construction jobs and regular services such as pool and gardening around the home.
  5. Lend It: This doesn’t provide a source of income, but lending your property to family and friends certainly will embolden them more towards you! You may want to say you’ll lend it at whatever the operating costs may be, to cover a portion of HOA and utility fees.
  6. Gift It: Another idea I have heard people doing it gifting a stay at their property and obtaining a tax deductible receipt for it. Perhaps there is a non-profit organization that holds raffles or auctions to raise money. You can offer a stay at your property, give it a value, and they can provide you with a tax receipt in exchange.

There you go, six great ideas for putting your property to better use when you are not using it!