Timeshare or Fractional? Which one is the right lifestyle fit for you?

Holiday ownership, vacation ownership, shared ownership, timeshare…these days there are so many options within the timeshare “umbrella” that finding a timeshare to fit your family’s lifestyle has never been easier.

Meanwhile, fractional ownership has attracted a loyal following, too, especially among buyers who may not want (or be able) to commit to purchasing a freehold property but would like to own a “bricks and mortar” share – often a quarter or an eighth share but the actual fraction can vary, depending on what the resort developer is offering.

To summarise: with a timeshare you are buying the time you spend at the resort.  With a fractional you are usually buying a quarter, eighth, or twelfth (for example) of the actual property, shared with other owners.

In addition, timeshares and fractionals both generally fall under the EU Timeshare Directive.  Why is this important? Because you’ll be entitled to a 14-day cooling off period (although in certain cases a fractional will fall under property law).

So with so many advantages to both timeshare and fractional ownership – when compared to a traditional hotel room holiday or shelling out for an entire freehold holiday home – let’s look at what makes timeshare and fractional ownership so unique and see which type of ownership is the best fit for you and your family’s lifestyle.

1. Family-friendly or more exclusive?

Timeshare is usually designed to have fifty-two owners per unit whereas fractional properties have fewer owners per unit – e.g. four upwards.  Many families prefer timeshare resorts because of the “friendly club” feel. If you’re a family that tends to holiday with one or two other families at the same time of year, buying into a timeshare resort is an ideal money-saving holiday solution and for many owners the real community feel a timeshare resort offers is priceless. You know the staff, the facilities, you know what to expect, there’s plenty of accommodation and outdoor space, onsite restaurants and entertainment, sporting and adventure activities for the children, and so on. And you’ll save a lot of money on not eating out as the self-catering facilities and size of accommodation means you’ll be able to enjoy all the comforts of home.

2. How often can you get away?

How often are you able to holiday? Are you tied to work with limited vacation time or retired with much more free time to spend abroad, breakfasting on your terrace in Fuerteventura in February while it’s snowing back home?

Timeshare owners usually purchase one, two or three weeks a year. Or they may use their points to buy holiday time. (Owners on a budget or with not much time to get away may choose to get away for just one week every other year.)

Overall, fractional ownership entitles you to much longer “chunks” of holiday time, as the property/resort they own is split between fewer people.  Usually a fractional property owner can look forward to enjoying from about three to twelve weeks holiday use a year.

3. Try-before-you-buy… 

If you’re on a budget, a trial timeshare membership is an excellent way to dip your toes into the water before you commit further.  Many leading timeshare developers offer a “try before you buy” programme whereby you can holiday at different resorts for a specified number of weeks at a cost of approximately £3.5k. This way you can get a feel for different destinations and resorts before you decide which longer term programme fits best, for you.

4. Differences in household income of fractional vs. timeshare owners.

As a general guide, the minimum qualifying household income for timeshare starts at about  £49,000.

The minimum qualifying household income for fractional properties is higher – about £98,000.

5. Location, location, location

Some luxury fractional properties are located within a flagship timeshare resort, although a great number enjoy a more remote setting than the traditional timeshare resort location.  Again, as a general rule, fractional owners may want more privacy, a feeling of exclusivity, more of a “spa getaway” ambiance.

So whereas timeshare resorts are often located close to an international airport, for ease, fractional properties are often set in more of a luxury escape setting – in the hills of Tuscany, in the Alps, on a more exclusive Caribbean island, away from the holiday crowds.  As a rule there are also more fractional properties in cities – San Francisco, London, Miami, Paris and New York are some of the most popular destinations for a fractional city break.

Timeshare owners, often busy families, want to get to the resort as quickly as possible from the airport, and be close to restaurants, shops and theme park facilities, etc. This is particularly true for younger families bringing toddlers on holiday – a resort close to an airport and with medical facilities onsite or close by gets extra points!

6. Size matters

Timeshare developments tend to be large, with complete onsite facilities, sometimes in the hundreds of units, but this is not always the case.

Fractional developments are normally smaller, more exclusive.

7. “Why they buy”, comparing fractional purchasers with timeshare buyers.

Timeshare purchasers are often motivated more by vacation exchange opportunities than by the particular property where they are owners at. They plan to discover other destinations.

Fractional owners have usually visited the resort or city where they own their property a number of times prior to purchasing, and see the purchase as an investment.

8. How do timeshare and fractionals compare to other ways to holiday?

Timeshare is offered as a smart, money-saving alternative to hotel stays and holiday rentals.  It is also a way to insulate buyers against inflation in the future cost of vacations.  Timeshare makes taking regular holidays a reality for people who would otherwise have been unable to afford yearly vacations.

Fractional ownership is offered as a smart, money-saving alternative to whole ownership. Purchasers buy only the amount of vacation use that they can realistically enjoy and pay only a fraction of the acquisition price and annual upkeep.

In some instances, fractional ownership enables purchasers to own a significantly higher quality property than would have been possible with whole ownership.

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