A timeshare, in simplified terms, refers to an arrangement in which several joint owners have the right to use a vacation property during an allotted period of time (often the same week every year). Timeshares are most often specific units, condos, or villas located on at a specific “home” resort property.
When you own a vacation home, you are the sole owner of a physical property that you can visit at your leisure, 365 days a year, but you also pay for the full value of the home as well as the cost of year-round maintenance. With a timeshare, you own an allotted amount of “time” during which you have access to your resort accommodations, and the amount you pay for ownership and maintenance is proportionally less. For instance, you might own a two-bedroom timeshare at a Las Vegas resort for the first week of March that you can use every year. Because you own this timeshare unit, your vacation accommodations are guaranteed every year.
Timesharing works for many travelers, because you get the benefits of a high-end vacation home without the high cost of expenses and upkeep. Most timeshare ownership programs also now offer the option to exchange your timeshare for a vacation at a different resort in a different location—so you are not tied down to the same spot year after year.