Water Fun Activities To Cool You Off This Summer

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-09-0325

Are you thinking of installing a pool or buying a home with one? Why not save yourself many thousands of dollars and cool off with some water fun activities and the best toys of summer instead?

In many places, a swimming pool is still considered some kind of status symbol. But unless you live in the desert somewhere, or decide that money is no object for you, a swimming pool is likely more pain than its worth. A while ago, I questioned the effect a pool has on one’s home valuation and offered reasons why it just isn’t worth the cost. I’m all for following this up with some cheaper alternatives, especially if you’re eager to get wet this summer. 🙂

Swimming Pools: Water Holes Or Money Pits?

But first, here’s a look at the dollar amounts you’ll face when you decide to own a concrete watering hole (from MSN Money):

  • In-ground pools add 7.7% to a home’s value, according to the National Association of Realtors, but it really depends on where you live. They’re much more popular in desert states, while not as desirable by the coasts.
  • Above-ground pools take away 1.9% from a home’s selling price.
  • Typical cost of installing a pool: between $25,000 to $50,000.
  • Hiring a pool service may cost between $1,500 to $2,000 annually to cover maintenance, water, regular repairs.
  • Heating your pool may easily add another $500 annually to your utility bills.
  • Running a pool filter may add $600 annually to your electric bill.
  • Liability insurance, pool fences, warning signs, a pool cover and other maintenance tools may take away several hundred to thousands of dollars from your budget.

Verdict: I added up at least $3,000 in annual costs alone to maintain a swimming pool. What more the enormous installation costs and potential hit to your home’s value?

Cheap Summer Options: Water Fun Activities and Toys

But all is not lost as there are always cheaper alternatives for everything. So if you’re hot and bothered, here are some guaranteed ways to save yourself upwards of $50,000:

Where To Go To Have Fun in the Water

  1. Visit someone who already owns a pool.
  2. Visit amusement parks with water rides.
  3. Go to the nearest local water hole or beach (if you live near one).
  4. Become a member at a sports club or YMCA or any place with the facilities you are looking for.
  5. Make your own water toys. Have you tried to make a DIY slip and slide or water slide?
  6. Have a ball with your garden tools: a lawn sprinkler or hose will do.

Fun Water Toys You Can Get

And if you want to have fancier toys at hand, here are seven more fun ideas that are way more affordable than a swimming pool!

little tikes sprinkler toy

Little Tikes Super Spiral Sprinkler
      water play table

WaterWheel Play Table

water balloons

Water Balloons

slip and slide

Slip and Slide

inflatable pool

Inflatable pools are my favorite summer toys. How about the Swim Center Family Pool — we have one that is very much like it — or the Sun Fish Snapset Pool for the younger set?

inflatable pool

Water Gun

Even with some variants of these toys costing in the very low hundreds, the costs are negligible compared to what you’d be spending for a permanent swimming pool. I also love the fact that these “toys” are portable, easy to put away, easy to replace if necessary, low-maintenance and fairly low risk. Best of all, they won’t interfere with your home’s valuation 🙂

If you’ve got kids, these items offer some of the best value for your money. So skip on the pool and apply your savings towards a 529 plan instead!

Image Credit: FreeLooseDirt and AbbaMouse

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Fortin September 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

There are some great ideas here – I always used to love slip & slides.

I saw another good water idea recently, (but I’m darned if I can remember where). It was one of those DIY Lifehacker type sites, and the guy had built a kind of standing frame out of white pvc piping that he’d drilled holes in.

He hooked it up to a hose, and created a kiddy version of a drive-through car wash … but this one was for kids on bikes!

AmeriGlide September 3, 2008 at 10:44 am

I had not known that above ground pools actually take away value, but that does make sense.

I have some family that lives in Florida and it seems like every home there has a pool. The aluminum framed screened in enclosures are also very popular, which add to the cost of the pool.

Excluding the maintenance costs and using the lowest cost of a pool($25,000), your home would have to be valued at around $324,500 in order to recoup the full cost of the pool.

Using the high end($50,000), your home would have to be valued at around $649,350 to recoup the full cost.

These figures don’t even take into account maintenance costs, so, at least in the long run, you probably won’t see much of a return on a pool…

Silicon Valley Blogger September 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

The thing is, I don’t understand why people love pools so much. I actually grew up with a pool in my backyard and we had lots of fun in it. But these days, my family still has lots of fun without a pool…

I guess there are people who really enjoy what that type of amenity offers. Perhaps it’s like having your own gym or exercise equipment vs going to a gym to use their equipment.

I can also see how it may be tough in a place like Arizona when you don’t have a pool.

But over here in California, it’s easy to just head off to the beach, and it’s usually too cold to play in the water anyway. So our inflatables are really practical. 🙂 Not only that, it’s pretty expensive to maintain anything around here, so having a pool is usually a thorn in your side, as several of my friends (who are pool owners) admit.

If the price is better where you are, then it could be a different story.

Danielle September 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm

I live in Oregon so having a pool is a huge waste of money. As a kid I do not even remember thinking about going to a pool or needing one I guess it was because my parents where resourceful and bought a lot of the toys you talk about on this blog. I would have to agree that you are better off putting that money into a savings account than you are putting it into a pool. Thanks

Andrew September 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

It doesn’t make sense to me why an above ground pool would decrease the value of a home. Where are you getting this information? I guess some would see only the hassle and this might inhibit some buyers, but why would it decrease the value? In fact I found one study that was completed a few years back (2004) by G. Stacy Sirmans, Ph.D, that determined conclusively that pools “never have a negative effect on selling prices.”

MultifolDream$ September 3, 2008 at 7:49 pm

I would say that the inground pool can decrease the home value as it is expensive to be removed and drives back the family people with small children.

Goran Web Design September 4, 2008 at 5:49 am

Great stuff. But they’re usually expensive. I’m looking forward to the summer, we’re currently in Spring here in South Africa, so summer is just two months away. Yay!

Escape Somewhere September 4, 2008 at 6:20 am

From what I have seen working in real estate the value of pools is going down. Less and less people are interested in pools. And I have more buyers that see having a pool as a negative simply because they dont want to deal with the pain and expense of maintaining it. Its a little interesting because we are in Texas and not near the ocean.

I know this doesnt help with cost. But expensive houses with cheap pools are really a problem. In that case it really seems to hurt the value of the house.

But if you take the 30 or 40k and put it into a mutual fund you will probably come out way ahead.

TPaper September 4, 2008 at 10:33 am

OMG! The slip and slide was my favorite. I got hurt one time when I slid off the slide too fast and bumped into a trash can in my backyard.

Austin Real Estate Broker September 5, 2008 at 12:33 am

I totally agree on the in ground pools adding to value. That said, they definitely remove some potential buyers who don’t want the expense, hassle and liability. Above ground pools, while an affordable and temporary alternative to in ground pools, should be removed PRIOR to selling the home. You can leave it with the home if the owner wants it, but above ground pools reduce the value AND turn off buyers. Above ground pools are like the worst of both worlds!


Jack September 5, 2008 at 11:34 am

There is something to be said for water hoses and trash cans as well. I wouldn’t recommend getting inside a really dirty trashcan, be we had many a fun summer water fight that employed clean trashcans as little bases of operation. As I remember, it was lots of fun.

jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity September 6, 2008 at 7:12 am

I think pools are more money sinks than anything, just live in an area with a community pool and it’s just as good. All the fun, none of the maintenance time OR money. 🙂

Topwaystosave September 6, 2008 at 10:56 pm

I live near Boston and I used to always love my pool. I have to say though that now that i’m older I do see it more as a money pit. The summers seem to go buy so quickly and we barely use it. It’s a lot of work and with the electricity and the chemicals it is definetly expensive. When my little girl is a little older it may be more worth while, but until she is old enough to have friends over and swim, it barely gets used.

sdsv September 16, 2008 at 10:38 am

Pools can get a bit pricey but like all things, if people stay within their budget, pools can be a great addition to any family.

Especially if you are looking to add value to a home: in ground pools are certainly the way to go over above ground pools.

Nomad September 24, 2008 at 8:34 am

Don’t forget the joys that can be found just running through sprinklers.

Bill October 1, 2008 at 9:47 am

Excellent ideas. Oh my, pools are expensive. If we moved somewhere really hot (like the East Bay isn’t hot), we’d consider a pool. But I’d insist the kids use it year-round, even in sub-freezing temps! I want to get my money’s worth!!!

Thanks for the post. Thanks, too, for the submission to my Kids and Money carnival. Your contributions there are always appreciated!

Florida Pool Man October 8, 2008 at 8:08 am

Nomad, ^ I like where your thinking. Pools can get pricey, but so can water bills, no? It was pretty great though when playing in the sprinklers could fill a whole day!

Blue World Pools March 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I loved your summer swimming activities! I could definitely use a couple of ideas, because we don’t have a pool. When we were shopping for a house, there was one we really liked, but it had such a tiny backyard with an above ground pool occupying about 90% of it. The pool was really old and junk-looking. When we told our real estate agent that we didn’t like it, instead of saying that the owner could remove it, she started her bla-bla about how useful we’ll find it during the summer. So we figured that removing the pool will be done at our expense. Guess what, we had to pass, buying a house is costly enough to afford this kind of extra expenses.

اهداف February 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

There are some great ideas here – I always used to love slip & slides.

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