As the second of five siblings, Bridget Albano has always known a lot about togetherness. She and her brothers and sisters have always been close, and the loss of their parents when they were all young forged an even deeper bond between them. Early on in their adulthoods, they made a commitment to each other remain close as they raised their own families. Though they scattered to various states to start their own lives, they traveled cross country to spend holidays and special events together at their individual homes for years.
It soon became apparent to the siblings that owning a group vacation home would make their togetherness simpler — no single person would have to host and manage a such a large family gathering. They found such a place on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts — a small cottage that wasn’t nearly big enough for all of them at once. They bought it and renovated it together, so that it accommodated their huge family of nearly 25 people every summer for close to twenty years.
We asked Bridget to share her family’s tribe investing story for its nuggets of wisdom and guidance — but also because we think it’s just a darn good story.
Was there any single “let’s do this” moment that pushed you all into buying a vacation home as opposed to just talking about it?
Not really. We knew we wanted to have a place where everyone could be together and no one person or one family owned it. Where everyone owned it. Our situation was unique because our parents had passed, so they weren’t there to be the family ‘glue.’ We had grown up and scattered to California, Georgia and Massachusetts, but we had always been a close family so we worked hard to visit each other and vacation together. We wanted our kids to grow up knowing each other even though we all lived so far apart. One summer we vacationed in Nantucket and it was just a magical time for us — time was so precious to us while we were there. Back then Nantucket wasn’t as crowded! We looked around while we were there and found a little three-bedroom cottage and decided to buy it. Then the whole family renovated it together. We added rooms and a porch and made it fit us all. Every single one of us including the kids had a hand in the building.
We’re lucky — we’ve always had a pretty cooperative dynamic among us all. I’m the oldest sibling and the management just kind of naturally fell to me to keep the bills paid and generally handle other minor management issues. But when we were all together there, no one person was ever assigned to be in charge of one task for the whole visit. We’d make up chore charts and change them every day. Everyone’s name was on the board, and we had a lot of fun with our jobs. It taught the kids responsibility and they learned a lot about how to give and take. We did that for all the years we went there to share vacations, birthdays, and celebrations before and after weddings. It was truly a successful group venture.
Did you think much about the financial investment aspect at the time you bought the family cottage?
Well, of course it was a consideration, but a much smaller one than our main desire to have a place for all of us to come together and share significant moments. We had the business sense to know that when the time was right and it was best for us financially we could profit from our investment. Quite a few years ago, that’s what we did. Our children had all grown up and married and had their own children, and they were busy building their own lives like we had. It was the right time to move on, and we’d shared almost twenty years of wonderful memories there, so we sold.
What advice would you give to others wanting to group invest for the first time?
For people who want to invest together in anything, their agendas must all meet at some point. With us, and I’d say with most others who invest in a vacation home, the agenda is almost always to keep people close together. That, and communication is totally key to make it all work well. Of course that’s much easier with today’s technology. In our day we had conference calls three times a year to talk about what I called ‘the state of the union’ — to make sure we were all on board with when we planned to be at the cottage that year, what needed to be done that year to keep it up, and so forth.
All of my memories are beautiful because it was about being together in the moment. But I have to say that I loved how we all came together to renovate the cottage and add to it over the years. In those days we also did painting, carpentry, planting — all kinds of projects together. A few of my nephews built the porch, so we named the porch after them! We did that with all of our family projects. We really raised the roof on the cottage, so to speak. It truly belonged to all of us.