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Broadband for second homes

Written by Max Beckett, Broadband Expert

4 June 2020

Who doesn’t love going away? If you’re lucky enough to have a holiday home in the UK for a yearly staycation or two, you’ll probably want to bring a few little luxuries with you, like broadband. Yes, keeping your holiday home or just a second home connected so you can simply arrive and unwind at any time isn’t always easy. You have electricity bills and standing charges to contend with, but when it comes to ensuring a working internet when you arrive, how can you keep your holiday home connected only when you need it? Read on to find out.

Second home by beach

What is the best broadband for holiday homes?

Usually, when you sign up for a broadband deal, the idea is that you’ll be using it all the time, so if you start subtracting weekdays or whole weeks from your monthly usage, you’ll soon be paying far too much for a service you don’t use.  

12-month broadband contracts

Just as with your regular residence, your holiday home can have a 12-month broadband contract (or an 18 or 24-month one if that is what you prefer). You should consider the following before you go ahead with this, though:

  • Is your holiday home occupied often e.g. every weekend?

If the answer is yes, then you might benefit from a cheap broadband deal like ADSL. Most providers offer this type of broadband for less than £20 a month, so it’s a great way to keep you online but not out of pocket even if a month passes where you find you cannot make your regular visits. 

  • Does more than a month pass between visits?

If you don’t make your visits on a fortnightly or monthly basis you may end up paying several months’ worth of bills having not made any use of your broadband, in this case, a long-term plan isn’t ideal for you.

  • How often do you actually use the internet while you are there?

Nowadays it’s pretty normal to assume broadband is an essential without really thinking if you actually need it. Think about how much you actually require an internet connection – is it a vital addition to your second home or more a nice-to-have? If the second one is more accurate, then consider an alternative to 12-month plans.

Rolling contract broadband 

A little pricier but with a lot more freedom, rolling broadband contracts last 30-days, renew every month and can be cancelled with 30 days’ notice with no exit fees.

Not all internet suppliers offer this type of broadband so you should use a comparison tool to make it easier to find the best deal. The following are a few of the providers who offer rolling contracts:

  • NOW Broadband

  • Virgin Media

  • Plusnet

  • Direct Save 

The downside to this, however, is that you still have to give a month’s notice to ensure the connection is up and running when you arrive, and another month’s notice for the contract to be ended. If you’re in your second home for only three weeks’ worth of holiday, that’s a whole two extra months of admin, and if you miss your window by even a week, you’ll be going a third of the time without any connection at all.

Rolling contract broadband would therefore work best for people who need to be connected for at least two months, if only to break-even on the time invested on getting the connection set up. If you spend two months in the summer at your second home, or even half the year there, then this could be a very good option.

Rolling broadband contracts vs. fixed prices

Rolling broadband contracts are offered at a higher price than fixed contracts and usually won’t have added perks like waived set-up fees. For example, these are the current (April 2020) prices for one of the priciest suppliers’ (Virgin Media) and one of the best value suppliers’ (Plusnet) fixed and rolling contracts:

Rolling M100 Fibre broadbandFixed 12-month M100 Fibre broadband
Monthly cost£49£29
Upfront fee£80£35
OtherN/A5GB 4G SIM card included
Total cost after one month£129£68
Total cost after one yea£668£383
Rolling Unlimited standard broadbandFixed 12-month Unlimited standard broadband
Monthly cost£23.99£23.99
Upfront fee£50£5
Total cost after one month£73.99£28.99
Total cost after one year£337.88£292.88

As you can see, the total difference in cost really does add up over the course of 12-months. However, the upfront fees (which must be paid every time you set up a rolling contract) do detract from the money-saving aspect if you plan to do so two or three times a year.

If you think your absences from your second home aren’t likely to total two months across the year, you might want to stick to a fixed price contract. However, if you were going for the higher prices of Virgin Media, you don’t want to be paying such fees for a service you aren’t even using.

Should I pick a fixed contract or rolling contract broadband? 

In the end, you need to decide if the idea of paying for something and not using it is worth it compared to paying out a higher upfront cost. Bear in mind that this is also based on the assumption that your visits are pretty regular throughout the whole year.

If you have a set visiting period within the months of July – September, for example, you definitely shouldn’t be looking to pay for the remaining nine months of the year. Of course, you might prefer to go for neither of these contracts and instead consider the third option…

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband may not be the favourite option for regular households — for one, it’s pricier than fixed contracts, and for another, speeds rarely match networks that offer ultrafast options. Where mobile internet comes into its own is in its flexibility — if mobile broadband is what you opt for you can pick and choose the following aspects of your deal:

  • Data only SIM for use in a dongle or laptop

  • Mobile compatible SIM that offers calls and texts as well as plentiful data

  • Choice of contract lengths

  • Choice of data limits (unlimited also available from some suppliers)

  • Roaming options for visits abroad

Always check to see if your internet provider at your main home has any mobile data offers. Plusnet, Vodafone and Sky, for example, all have mobile broadband offerings that may be discounted for existing customers and, as you can see above, Virgin Media’s included SIM means you’d already be covered. 

Can I get mobile Wi-Fi?

Mobile broadband can be made into a Wi-Fi (or MiFi) connection using a mobile broadband router which several devices can then connect to like they would your regular home router.

The benefits of this is that you can use it anywhere – on the road as you head to your second home, while you are there and wherever you travel to in the meantime.  You could also just hotspot your mobile phone. So long as you are in an area with coverage from your mobile network, you can get online with mobile broadband.

How long are mobile broadband contracts?

These contracts can be as short as one month or as long as 18-months. Obviously, the 18-month options, just like regular broadband, will come with added perks such as added minutes and texts as well as no upfront fees and a lower cost. You’ll need to give 30 days’ notice to end any mobile broadband contract. 

If you opt for pay-as-you-go SIM cards, you simply have a set amount of data and minutes to use as and when you like until they run out. If you are a very casual user, or if you are happy to stay connected through texts and calls rather than social media and online, this option can be a very competitively priced solution.

Of course, if you already have a mobile broadband SIM then this option is perfect, just carry on using your phone as a hotspot.

What’s the best cheap broadband for holiday homes?

Ultimately, this depends on your circumstances. Is mobile broadband the cheapest? No, but are you guaranteed to be able to use it no matter which of your homes you are in? Yes.

In the same way, a fixed price plan may not be something you can use 100% of, but which may work out cheaper in the long run than if you funded a rolling contract once every two months. 

Do you rent out your holiday home?

Things may be different if you frequently rent out your holiday home. If you need to keep guests connected, then you might want to look at regular 12-month broadband contracts for your second property. Be sure to read the fine print though, as some deals and offers may not be honoured if you are using the provider’s broadband in a commercial residence. 

Assuming that the high season lasts six months and the low season another six months, if you only rent during a set high season, then you may be best to stick with a rolling contract that can be cancelled within a month’s notice – even with upfront costs, you’re likely to end up paying more if you continue to be billed for the months when your home is unoccupied.

If you feel the profit you make from your rental season can justify the costs of opting a 12-month contract even if it goes through a significantly underused low season, you could still go for this option. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can’t I just set up broadband on a cheap fixed deal and then cancel on the way home?

No, you can’t do this without a financial loss. Remember, fixed deals are cheaper because they assume you will stay in contract for the whole 12/18/24 months.

If you leave sooner, you will be subject to a fee that is multiplied by the number of months left on your contract, and you may also have to pay another fee for general admin. In the end, it may cost almost as much to cancel (especially if you’re on a longer fixed contract) as it would to just stick with it.

Can I arrange broadband for my holiday home abroad?

Your best bet for getting cheap holiday home broadband abroad is to set up a contract locally and to compare prices with local providers as well as the major names that operate internationally. If you want a broadband option that seamlessly follows you from home to abroad, then mobile broadband is the best option.

Almost all network providers will have extensive roaming locations where your data will continue to work as it does in the UK. Alternatively, they may have cheap deals for more far-flung destinations where data costs are greatly reduced. 

What if my visits to my second home don’t follow a set schedule?

If your visits to your second home are more spontaneous, perhaps occurring maybe every weekend one month and only once the following, you might be best opting for mobile broadband. If you really would prefer a traditional wired connection then you might want to consider the cheap ADSL option – across twelve months your sporadic visiting schedule may even out to justify the small costs offered by these standard broadband fixed price contracts. 

Can I carry my current plan over to my holiday home broadband?

Unless your two homes are right next door to each other and you plan to both operate off the same broadband plan (with patchy connection in the second home very likely), no, you can’t have one broadband plan between two homes.

It’s not the same as moving home and taking your broadband plan with you where you end your connection at one home and transfer it, you can’t use the same plan at two different addresses.