Hot Tub Economics: The Cost To Own And Maintain A Hot Tub

Getting a hot tub (spa) has been the absolute best splurge I've ever made. The second best splurge is building a deck. Once the global pandemic hit, I went from going to my hot tub once or twice a week to three or four times a week. Having a hot tub has been a life-saver!

Having an outdoor hot tub to go to really helped with my mental health. It allowed me to relax, record some podcasts, and think of new post ideas for Financial Samurai. Further, having a hot tub was something fun and new to do with my three and a half year old son.

At least once a week, I would walk with my boy to my rental property where my hot tub was, and spend some quality time. Kids love water and my son is no different.

Thoughts On Getting A Hot Tub

I don't have very many wants in life, namely:

  • A lovely wife
  • A healthy family
  • Sexy good looks
  • Financial independence
  • A feeling of purpose
  • Admiration and respect from everyone
  • A happy default predisposition
  • A cozy home with an ocean view
  • Buy This, Not That becoming an international bestseller

After these nine things, what more does a guy really want or need? I'm not greedy. But lately, I've been wanting one more thing to fill up the large empty space underneath my deck: a hot tub!

I don't know whether you guys realize how much I sacrifice to give you the most insightful financial advice possible. After all, I can't write about the cost to own and maintain a spa without buying one. That would be like me writing about early retirement while still working for The Borg.

In this post, I'll give you some insights into my nine month journey of finally procuring a hot tub. I've learned a ton along the way that will enable you to save money and make the best spa decision for you and your family.

Is A Hot Tub Right For You?

Before you buy one, the first thing you should do is list the reasons why you want one. Ask yourself the following:

* Do you live in a temperate climate? Hot tubs are wonderful between 0 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Sitting in 101+ degree water when the outside temperature is higher than 75 degrees gets a little uncomfortable.

* Do you do a lot of physical activity? Physical activity can include manual labor for your job, rigorous exercise, or sports. Spas provide wonderful therapy for achy muscles.

* Do you have a well ventilated space? Hot tubs generally range from 5′ X 6′ up to 8′ X 8′. You'll want to have at least a couple feet of space to walk around all four sides for cleaning and maintenance. Therefore, you need at least 70 – 100 sqft worth of space. You'll also want a space that's sheltered from prying neighbors as well.

* Do you have the time and patience to maintain one? Depending on usage, you'll have to change the water every 3-4 months, the filters every 6-18 months, check the PH balance at least once a week, clean the inevitable ring that forms around the hot tub, and once a year change the UV bulb that kills bacteria. You can pay a maintenance company $30 – $250/month to do the work.

The Cost Of Owning A Hot Tub

There are an endless number of hot tubs to choose from. If you buy one, you might as well get the best one possible because of the fixed costs required to install one. Here are some things you will probably need to spend money on.

Hot Tub Store Selection - the cost of getting a hot tub

Platform: $200 – $1,000

Unless you already have available a perfectly flat cement platform, it's likely you will need to create one from scratch with reinforced rebar. To withstand the thousands of pounds of pressure, the cement platform should be around 4″ high.

Originally, I had planned to put the hot tub on my deck. However, a structural engineer said my deck would not hold 7,000 pounds (heavier than my Honda Fit) without reinforcement. Even then, he said he still wouldn't recommend putting one on the deck.

I got my landscaper to build me an 8′ X 8′ X 4″ cement platform for about $800 – $1,000, including materials. The cost was blended into my overall backyard landscaping job.

He had to build a box, pick up bags of concrete, pour, and smooth. Or you can do all this work yourself and just pay about ~$200 for the materials. But I had no desire to injure my back.

Hot tub cement platform - the cost of getting a hot tub

Delivery: $0 – $1,500

Hot tubs are large, heavy, and cumbersome. The dry weight is anywhere between 500 – 1,000 lbs. Further, they do not fit through standard, three foot wide doors either. Therefore, if it's feasible, you'll need a bunch of guys to create a movable trolley / ramp system to get your hot tub onto your platform.

Otherwise, your spa may need to be craned over your house and into your back yard. This is where you might have to pay the delivery company $1,000 or more. The farther away the placement is from the street, the more you'll have to pay.

I paid $325 to have five guys build a ramp over my fence, and trolley my hot tub down the side of my house.

Hot tub delivery

Electrician: $1,000 – $3,000

The first thing you should choose is a 220 volt powered hot tub versus a 110 volt powered hot tub. The 210v heats up the water quicker, recycles the water faster, and has more jet power. Higher voltage hot tubs have more options such as lights, music, and bubbles. Plug and play 110v hot tubs are fine. They just don't have the best therapeutic power.

Unfortunately, with a 220v powered spa, you'll need an electrician to run a hardwire from your sub-panel or main panel into your hot tub. You'll need to create a GFCI switch box as well. This costs money! Depending on the distance your spa is from your electrical panel, and how much cutting and drilling is involved, your electrician may cost between $1,000 – $3,000.

I paid my licensed electrician $1,500.

hot tub electrical panel
Hot tub GFCI switch - the cost of installing electrical for a hot tub
Hot tub electrical wiring conduit 210V

Hot tub: $2,000 – $20,000

Given I was already in for $2,825 to install my hot tub, I decided to get a larger hot tub of higher quality even though most of the time there would only be one or two of us using it. I chose the Sundance Altamar hot tub that seats five for $13,000.

The Altamar is part of Sundance's top of the line 8800 series with the most amount of jets and options. It's the same hot tub that's in the San Francisco Giants' locker room. If it's good enough for Giants players, it's good enough for me.

If you're going to go through the hassle of getting one, you might as well get the best one you can afford. I'd stick to mid tier: $5,000 – $8,000, high tier: $9,000 – $12,000, or luxury tier: $13,000 – $20,000. The last thing you want to do is return your hot tub because it didn't perform to your expectations.

Really think things through regarding placement as well. You have to make a best guesstimate of which will be your favorite seat and where you want the cover to fold out to for privacy. Once you've decided, it's very hard to switch things around!

Total Cost Of Owning A Hot Tub: $15,825

Best hot tub in the world - the cost to install a hot tub

Ongoing Hot Tub Maintenance Costs

Chemicals to keep the water clean: $150 – $250 / year 

My hot tub came with a box of five different bottles of chemicals. Each chemical is used to clean and maintain the quality of the water. My box of chemicals will run out in about four months. Therefore, I'll have to buy two more boxes for $50 each to cover the remaining eight months. Therefore, the total cost is roughly $150 / year.

Hot tub chemical requirements

Filters to keep water clear: $100 / year

My hot tub has an outer and inner filter. I'm required to change the outer filter every 18 months ($60) and the inner filter every six months ($40). Some might say I don't have to change the filters as often, just like how you don't have to change your car's oil every 3,000 miles. But I want to change my filters often because it's easy to do and I care about the quality of the water.

The reality is, after five years of owning a hot tub, I change my filter much less often than recommended. I take it out and hose the filter down, but that's it. When it's only you, your wife, and your son using the hot tub, it doesn't get very dirty.

UV bulb: $75 / year

The ClearRay UV bulb helps kill bacteria that cross its path. Replacing the bulb looks a little complicated as I've got to remove a lot of parts to get in there. If I don't have to pay someone, the cost is just $75.

UV bulb replacement instructions
Looks complicated

Increased Electricity: $60 – 250 / month

Depending on the water heater savings mode you use and how high you want your water to be heated (99 – 104F usually), you will see a $60 – $25 monthly increase in your electricity bill.

I highly recommend you learn how to turn on the economy mode or day mode function. This way, the hot tub isn’t heating at your set temperature for 24 hours a day. Instead, it’s heating for 11 to 12 hours a day.

The higher ongoing electricity bill has been my main surprise for owning a hot tub. I'm not sure whether my hot tub wiring is fault, or I simply got a beast of a hot tub that consumes a lot of energy. But I keep my hot tub on economy mode and set the temperature at 99 degrees. Even still, my hot tub bill is regularly $200/month.

Also note that if you drain your hot tub and refill it with cold water, the electrical cost to reheat the tub to your desire temperature will increase a lot. I recommend changing the water every 3-6 months.

Total annual operating costs of a hot tub: $1,000 – $2,500

The Benefits Of Owning A Hot Tub

Here are ten potential benefits I can think of.

1. More Family Time. The traditional get together is around the dining table. Why not extend the quality time to the hot tub after?

2. Better Sleep. It's easier to fall asleep after a nice soak or massage.

3. Massages. Get a free massage when you want, as long as you want, with powerful hot tub therapy jets.

4. Lower Stress. Live longer.

5. Increase Romance. Rekindle the romance with your partner, or impress a date.

6. More Time Outdoors. Ever wonder why hiking is so therapeutic?

7. Lower Blood Pressure. You may see lower blood pressure, according to “The New England Journal of Medicine” while combating Vitamin D deficiency.

8. Hot Tub Parties. Have a hot tub party in the middle of winter. Hot tubs are a great way to stay connected with friends.

9. Staycation. Save money and traveling headaches. No longer do you need to spend a fortune at an expensive resort to enjoy a hot tub.

10. Increase Home Value. There's a debate whether a pool adds value given the dangers of a pool. But a operational hot tub should absolutely increase the value of your property when it comes time to sell. Any amenity that makes your home more vacation-like is a win.

I Love My Hot Tub

Relaxing at night in warm water

In another life I must have been a sea creature because I can soak in my hot tub for a couple hours at a time no problem. After five years of ownership, I've averaged eight hours a week in my hot tub.

It's been wonderful utilizing my unused space in the back as well. I sleep incredibly well after a good soak and have had fantastic conversations with friends and family in the hot tub so far.

The biggest stress you will have as a first-time hot tub owner is making sure the water is within the parameters of the test strip. It takes trial and error to get things right.

But sooner or later you'll get the hang of maintaining clear, clean smelling water that will provide you and your family hours of enjoyment. If you mess up the chemical balance, you can always drain the tub and start over!

One of the reasons why real estate is my favorite asset class is due to little things like enjoying a hot tub. You would never make such an investment in a rental unless you had money to burn. 

To be able to enjoy a better lifestyle, add value to your property, potentially make a profit down the road and essentially live for free as a result is just a wonderful value proposition.

This isn't something you can do investing in stocks, bonds, REITs, or real estate crowdfunding, where I'm currently putting new money to work. So I encourage you to not only own your primary residence, but also continuously invest in passive income generating assets. Then you can spend even more time in your hot tub since you won't have to work as much!

Wealth Building Recommendations

If you're looking to buy property as an investment or reinvest your house sale proceeds, take a look at Fundrise, one of the largest real estate crowdfunding platforms today with over $3 billion under management. Fundrise enables investors to easily invest in private multifamily and single family rental properties across the country.

I also highly recommend searching for properties on the CrowdStreet platform. CrowdStreet focuses on individual real estate deals in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities have lower valuations, higher growth, and higher yields.

I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding to diversify and earn income passively. It's great to be able to diversify away from my expensive San Francisco real estate portfolio.

Fundrise Due Diligence Funnel
Less than 5% of the real estate deals shown gets through the Fundrise funnel

74 thoughts on “Hot Tub Economics: The Cost To Own And Maintain A Hot Tub”

  1. Lily Bridgers

    I’ve been eyeing getting an outdoor spa built on my patio for months now and since I feel like I deserve it, I might finally get into this soon. As you said, it is a bit unpleasant to sit in water that is over 101 degrees while the outside temperature is above 75.

  2. Eli Richardson

    It’s great that you talked about hot tubs and their maintenance needs. Recently, my wife and I decided we’d like to invest in our home. We’ve always wanted a hot tub, but we weren’t sure if we could keep it in good shape, so we’ll read your advice carefully. Thanks for the information on hot tubs and how they’re worth it!

  3. I loved that you mentioned owning a bathtub will definitely help you to increase your home’s value. My husband and I are thinking about adding a bathtub to our home remodeling project, and I’m looking for its benefits to convince my husband. I will let him know about the benefits of owning a bathtub to increase the value of our house in case of a future sale and see if it helps.

    1. I can’t afford a bathtub, but I’m thinking if installing an extra-large toilet, which will add to the value of the place, i think. An extra large toilet, and built in emesis drawers in the bedroom. They just look like flush drawers with nice handles, but you open them up and it’s a fully lined emesis tray. So when you’re sick you van just use the drawer and close it, until you can get up and empty it.

  4. Derek McDoogle

    I like how you said that hot tubs provide wonderful therapy for achy muscles. My dad asked my mom if she would like to get a hot tub so that they could spend more time outdoors but relaxing in the charm of their house. Since my mom isn’t sure yet, I will share this article with them so they are aware of the benefits of having a hot tub in their house.

  5. Bethel Smith

    I was impressed that you were able to get your hot tub moved over your fence. We will be moving in the next year and this is one of the things that will be the most difficult to move. I can’t imagine trying to move it myself. I will certainly be reaching out to an experienced service to come help.

  6. Thank you for publishing this article! It was just what I was searching for- I’m a Californian, transplanted to OH-(1992) am now 61 and work on my feet several hours a day- have terrible aches & pains & so after work I am worth nothing- so have loved the idea of hot tub and after much research, put a down payment on one- it was a ‘sale’ priced down to about 10K- you brought up many pros that I wondered about vs cons- it is a big expense for us on our low income but my quality of life I hope really goes up after using it after work (or before) and hopefully will help me get a second wind to enjoy working in the yard, etc- I hadn’t thought too much about the extra expenses, the electrician cost is more than I imagined- I have a few days to back out of this contract- and am really waffling on the idea- we have long winters and hot summers but one can turn the heat down quite a bit and still enjoy, true? Also appreciate you mentioning the real estate value because that’s been a real concern in case we do move in the not to distant future- it would be a selling feature? For some- which is one reason we wanted one to seat several people in case potential buyers envision social aspect- MINE is PURELY to help me survive the aches & pains!

  7. Crazy we just got our hot tub delivered today. I didnt read your review or blog post. My electrician said it will raise my bill by $100.00. I argued with him and started doing research on the cost. Your blog post came up. We got a Sundance as well. 8800 Marin model. I agree with you on all of the points you made in the post. Definitely want to get a good one if your going through all the hassle to buy it. Can I ask you have you had any trouble with yours? Are you using bromine or chlorine?

  8. I’m in Florida and have NEVER used the heat in mine.
    I keep it covered (insulated) when not in use…a cool refreshment like no other!

  9. I love how good my achy body feels after time in a hot-tub. Another perk of fire and owning nice real estate. Perhaps my condo-desire is misplaced.

  10. Michael LaPointe

    Great info! I wonder everyday what my next “toy” should be, a bmw convertible, a boat, a camper or a hot tub? The hot tub can be used mostly everyday here in Connecticut and with my family. I love your breakdown, keep up the great work!

  11. Great article Sam. Do you know how long your hot tube will last? So I can calculate the amortization.

    In 10-15 years, I would like to have a hot tube and a four season solarium. So I need to start saving now.

  12. Great pics and write up on the hot tub. It looks like you can actually see the Pacific from your tub. That’s amazing!

    I thought about getting a hot tub a few years back but couldn’t justify the cost. I’ll have to take this article to my wife now to see if I can convince her.

    1. Yep, I have a partial view of the Pacific ocean. The trees are blocking my view to the right. But, if you go onto my deck above you’ll see panoramic ocean views. Originally that’s why I wanted to put my hot tub, but then it wouldn’t be private and it would put a lot of weight on the deck so it would need reinforcing.

  13. Without getting too personal, a husband in his “child-bearing years” should be aware that sitting in a hot tub for too long each day is going to hurt his little swimmers…. You didn’t hear it here.

  14. Your First Million

    I think that for many people, it is worth the costs. Especially people who are very active. There is nothing better than relaxing in a hot tub after a long day of golf when your entire body is feeling stiff! On the other hand, I think there are many people…. even middle class people… who buy a hot tub (probably even finance it at 12%), put it out in the back yard and use it no more than 2 or 3 times a year.

    I would say if you know you are going to get a lot of good use out of it, then by all means get one. Please don’t finance a hot tub at 12% though! Anyone can muster together a few thousand dollars… even if you have to wait a year to do it.

  15. Save Splurge Deny Debt - Cameron

    That view is absolutely killer!

    Thanks for sharing all of the costs associated with an install like this. I would have appreciated a live video of the testing phase just to see what to look for as well ;)

    My family had two hot tubs when I was growing up. The first one my parents actually moved inside the house and out of the deck to make room for my childhood sandbox. The other was outdoors in Nebraska and it was so nice to sit outside while it snowed!

    I especially agree with items like this, save up and pay for the luxury item. You will get much more use out of it lowering the per use cost instead of buying a cheap one you get tired of in a year or so and have a moldy tub you throw on the curb. Enjoy the spa!

  16. Can you write an article about building a pool on a sloped hill? :-P

    I’m remodeling a house (complete gut, inside and out) and I got a quote for a pool. Rough estimate from a construction company was over $150k, and more likely to be $250k!!!

    1. Dang! I hope your house is worth at least $3 million if you’re going to spend that kind of money on a pool. I don’t want to pull in San Francisco because it’s too cool here.

      1. No, it’s more like $1.8 to $2MM.

        But in the hot LA summers, it makes more sense than a hot tub. We’re going to skip it for now and probably just build a deck and terrace the slope like you did.

        1. Good call. That ratio would be too high in my opinion for a house worth $1.8 – $2MM.

          I hear you on the hot LA summers though. The spa store had a nice lap pool that is above ground with a retractable roof. I think the cost was around $50,000.

  17. We have a Jacuzzi for the past 10 months. It cost $11,000. We used it summer and winter, it is a few steps from the door wall on a cement patio. I don’t seem to get as much benefit as my daughter. She has constant back pain and the hot tub gives her some relief even if only temporarily. She loves it. I’m 70 and she is 45.

  18. We have had our hot tub for 7 years and love it. We live in Canada and bought a good one with good insulation. I had a friend who bought one of the $3000 ones and the cost of hydro was soooo expensive. Ours doesn’t add too much to our electricity bill.
    The only expenses I didn’t see mentioned is a cost of a permit. Where we live we needed to get a pool permit and it was $256. Also hot tubs can need repairs. We’ve had one repair done (after the 5 year warranty expired) and it was $275. Also our cover now needs replacing which will be $400-$500. Our pillows need to be replaced 3 x $50. Even with these expenses I would still buy the hot tub again.

  19. Your hot tub looks awesome especially with the accompanying view. But I didn’t know it would cost that much 15k and then the maintenance time and cost. Can’t you get a small pool installed for that? I thought about one, but probably not anymore. Anyways, enjoy!

    1. A small pool for $15k? Maybe a bath tub.

      My in laws just redid their backyard and had a “small” saltwater pool installed with a hot tub that runs water through both via an infinity edge. They went with a small contractor and it still cost them $150k all in.

      1. Thanks for sharing. I believe the $150K figure too!

        Dang, I feel good I only spent $15K on my hot tub whoo hoo!

        I’ve observed my water therapy patterns for the past 10 years when there is a pool and a hot tub (place up in Tahoe). I would spend 10 – 20 minutes in the pool, and 1-2 hours in the hot tub. Therefore, it was obvious I should get a hot tub. Further, based on my usage time, I could rationally figure spending 6X more on a hot tub.

        Luckily for me, a hot tub costs 90% less! So frugal I am. Now that’s max value.

  20. That might be the best blog opening paragraph ever! That’s exactly my minimum list of what I deserve too! But curses on you Financial Samurai, I needs me a hot tub too, but alas it is above 75 deg F pretty much 300 days a year here in swampy South Arkansas and if I had one of those outside it would probably have a copper head or a cotton mouth snake (both highly venomous water loving snakes that live in abundance on our swampy property) in it when I tried to use it on the 65 days that it was cool enough to get in. As distance runners and advanced tennis players my wife and I hurt all the time! But between the crazy heat, the poison serpents and clouds of mosquitoes I think we will have to pass.

  21. Hi Sam

    I’ve had a bromine-based hot tub for years and use it every day. It’s almost my favorite place to reflect and think.

    One more little tip (if I may) to help with cleanliness is I keep another spare filter (filters?) and change them out more regularly (every few weeks or so), then I rinse the dirty one in my dishwasher. The youtube video is great for removing particles, but over time I have found cleaning oily ‘people’ residue from makeup, sunscreen, etc needs some sort of detergent. I was having problems with scum rings & foaming and this regular changing of filters solved it.

      1. I believe that newer tubs use bromine as the active ion for a couple of reasons, primarily greater stability (once you have a ‘bank’ established) and less smell/potential irritation.

        On the other hand chlorine is cheaper.

  22. I wish more people would see this before investing the money in a hot tub. This is about how much I thought it would cost, if not a little more. I personally just can’t be a fan, but it’s very informative to know the cost of getting one and setting it up!

    We’ve been house shopping in San Diego this last month (finally closed escrow on Friday, woohoo!) and about 3/10 houses would have a hot tub like this. I don’t understand the appeal and why there are so many… especially when you know you’re not going to take it with you when you leave! After reading your list… I can say I understand a little more.

    For me, with access to gyms that have pools and sauna and living in a community where there is a community pool/hot tub, I never understood the hassle of owning one. And what I can’t get past is the (lack of) aesthetics of planting one in the backyard. I haven’t seen one that looks good… period.

    But still good to know. Maybe when I get older and too lazy to go to a public hot tub, I will one day want to own one for myself. Until then… I will keep these stats in mind :D

    Jessica || Cubicle Chic

    1. Congrats on almost closing escrow!

      You may find that as you get older and wealthier, you’ll enjoy more privacy and cleanliness. I didn’t really think about how much public bacteria I had to share in the past until I bought my own and had to maintain the water and filter. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to share bacteria with hundreds of other people as we don’t get sick too often from sharing. It’s just one of those things where if you can afford it, have some open space, and enjoy privacy, why not.

  23. Tim Kim @

    Sam, wow for some reason I thought it’d be cheaper to own a hot tub. I think I remember seeing saunas and hot tubs in Costco and thinking not bad, maybe I’ll get one someday. But seeing everything else that goes into getting one installed and maintained really adds to the perspective. I think I may have to think twice about spending $15K on something like that. But sounds like you’re made to be in water, so sounds like it’s a sensible splurge for you.

    1. You can deathly go the cheaper route, especially if you can just plug and play and install it without much cost or difficulty. Costco does have hot tubs that cost less than $3000. For me, I just figured that if I’m going to get a hotel, I might as well get a sensibly awesome one with all the bells and whistles because it’s taken me nine months to figure this out.

      There’s a big difference between a 210 V hot tub and a 110 V Hot tub.

      But yes, I wanted to make people realize that it’s not just the hot tub expense when owning a hot tub. It’s just like buying a car. If then go to get insurance, and then maintain the car. This is why minimalism is a good thing! But it’s always been my dream to own a hot tub.

  24. Stealth Saver

    Great article. You should do a lot more like this as a lot of reviews don’t really get into the weeds when it comes to cost.

    Hot tubs aren’t really my thing as I have become a germaphobe. But if I were to own one from new, with my family and I being the only users I would certainly consider it.

    1. i had a new/small 250 gal tub put in 8 months ago [12×16 deck, tub, installation ~12k], and use it 3-5x/week. no more back aches :) sometimes, the BF joins me on weekends. it’s almost a meditation to soak in it!

  25. Have you ever known anyone who got an infinity pool/hot tub combo? They are larger but I think if we were to get one, I’d love to go that route since I enjoy swimming. But that would be years away.

    I grew up with an in-ground pool so I helped my dad with all the work. Above ground is always easier maintenance wise (although for a pool, less aesthetically pleasing)! No fears of serious cracks affecting the pool.

  26. Smart Provisions

    Congrats on the hot tub, Sam!

    I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll get, but I bet it was a great deal for you!

    The benefits of having a hot tub does seem to outweigh the costs of having one and I’d bet it’d be even better with a glass of wine!

  27. Timely article Sam. I have debated placing a hot tub in my yard (an hour north of you) since moving in November. Still the cost/time of maintenance makes me hesitant and this was a good piece on what it will truly be to purchase and maintain one. Maybe in 10 years (when the kid is older) and after I have placed a wall of windows in my living room to expand my 25 mile view will I consider it. For now, I will go to the local club and use their pool, hot tub, and sauna without the maintenance.

    My next big project will be a lavender garden. I figure it will cost less and provide hours of aroma therapy. Plus it’s cheaper then a hot tub.

  28. We bought a new hot tub last year as part of our big backyard reno and love it too. I am in it 3-4 times a week and my wife and kids are also using it quite a bit. Its about 20 feet from our pool so its nice to go back and forth between the two. We kept the temp set at 102 all winter but now that its warming up I like it around 99.

    Total cost for it was about $24,000 installed. Everything here in Canada is a little more expensive. Tub (Hotsprings Grandee NXT) was $21,150 including a great built in stereo (even has a subwoofer built in under the cabinet), nice cover lifter (one finger to get the cover off), start up kit, tax, delivery, etc. The concrete pad was $1,000 and the electrical work was about $1,500. We opted for a salt water tub after switching our pool over a few years ago it makes the maintenance so much easier. So far after 8 months average weekly maintenance time is less than 5 minutes. The only chemical I generally have to add is Ph down (salt systems cause the Ph to slowly rise) once a week. Just changed the water for the first time last week and only because I was going to clean out the 5 filters. Zero smell or foaming even after that long.

    Tip for you – found a great video on youtube for an excellent way to clean your filter which I tried and works SO WELL.

    1. Excellent to hear and great tip on cleaning the filter!

      How does the salt water tub work versus non salt? How is the salt added and is the corrosion work differently? Salt means no chlorine necessary?


      1. Check out the Saltron Mini-II chlorine generator. That’s what I used and it worked as advertised. As close to no maintenance as you gonna get, no harsh chemicals, soft water and no skin irritation…

        1. I would not recommend a salt system for a hot tub at all. You still have to add regular hot tub chlorine. If you’re not, you haven’t read the instructions clear enough. Salt as everyone knows, is turned into chlorine anyway. Yes your water may be soft. However, you can buy hot tubs without salt systems that use little chemicals and the water is still soft. The other thing is most salt systems, such as the one hot springs offers, the salt cell needs to be replaced every 18 months or so at a cost of about $700 for the cell itself. Even more for labor if you dont know how to install it. You also have higher corrosion possibilities with salt, because it is naturally corrosive. Get something that has corona discharge ozone, mineral filter/stick, circulating pump, and antibacterial filter. You will use less chemicals. Depending on usage, 1 to 2 tablespoons a week of chlorine. Also, if chlorine is the thing you dont like, try Baqua/Biguanide. Its hydrogen peroxide based. Not smell and not nearly as harsh as chlorine or salt.

          1. Zero chlorine needed with my Hotsprings Grandee. As for cell replacement I just got 4 years out of the first one on my pool system and Hotsprings suggests 2-3 year life for theirs. Even if it’s $700 every 2 years that would be a very insignificant cost for me. I get my water tested at a local pool store quite often and rarely have to add a thing.

      2. You only add salt with water change so I’ve added salt twice, once when brand new and the second time when I changed the water recently for the first time. Could not be easier to maintain and the water is perfect. Target salt level is 1750 ppm which is about half of what a pool system needs so pretty low level of salt, not at all like ocean water at 35,000 ppm.

          1. You don’t want to add salt to a tub that isn’t set up for it (salt cell system). The main reasons a massive percentage of pool owners and more recently some spa manufacturers have moved to salt systems is ease of maintenance. No chlorine pucks, constant levels and nice soft water.

    2. Hi Chris,

      Which city do you live in? I live in Montréal, if I leave a hot tube outside, will I be able to use it in the winter? Will it be better to put a hot tube in solarium?

      Thank you

  29. It seems like you’ve addressed a lot of the issues that led me to return my hot tub! I wonder how much better your $13,000 spa is vs. the $2,500 one we got from Costco. Is it really 5 times better? I get your point about getting the best by the way, just wondering what could justify such a huge price disparity. Did you look into a salt water system to cut down on maintenance and chemicals? We found salt water spas to be more enjoyable because of the way the water felt and the absence of harsh chemicals. Do you plan on adding some privacy on the sides? The cover sort of works but it looks like you could build out a nice screen off the deck there.

    My pros and cons (mostly cons I guess) are here

    1. Honestly, I think there is a HUGE different in a $2,500 hot tub you got and a $13,000 one. Like testing out bed mattresses before buying one, I sat in about 15 different operating hot tubs with my bathing suit on for 15+ minutes each before buying.

      The quality, power, features are night and day. Did you try before you bought?

      Folding the cover to the right actually provides 100% privacy. And there’s 100% privacy on the left as it’s just the neighbors wall. Neighbors below could catch a glimpse if they look up, but it’s a different angle than when they look down.

      Try out the expensive hot tubs next time!

      1. Nope, they don’t let you try the hot tubs at Costco so I just had to rely on reviews, which turned out to be accurate. I tried many hot tubs on our travels and they all felt pretty much the same as the one we got. From what I’ve read Costco tubs perform the same at half the price, so a 2.5K tub is supposed to be equivalent to a 5K tub… I need to find me a fancy 13K hot tub to try!

        1. There is a Sundance spa retailer Mateo where they have about 15 different spas for you to try. I sat in all of them. Have a lap pool.

          $20,000 one next time and write about it!

    2. Physician on FIRE

      I’ve got a Costco tub now, too. A $4,000 model. Our last tub cost more than double that. They’re not identical, but the differences are minor and hardly noticed.

      The toughest part was the fact that it’s delivered to the driveway and dropped from a truck. I was too stubborn to ask for help and spent a good hour rolling it around back on some 3″ PVC pipe and dropping it in place. Electrician was $800 to hardwire the thing. We love it and use it several times a week.


  30. Great analysis! I have never in my wildest dream thought that I would ever own a hot tub.

    To me, a hot tub is something rich people own and expensive houses have. I never thought a hot tub had so many benefits. Congrats on the 9th month of owning and enjoying one!

      1. LOL I’m with you on the fancy oversized bath tub. What do they call it? A hydro massag bathtub? I saw those on the real estate TV shows and thought maybe once or twice I’d love to try it one day :D You’re right. I need to take my imagination to the next level. I think it’s too basic at the moment. >.<

  31. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    I’ll be honest – I’ve never been interested in owning a hot tub. I just never really liked sitting in one for very long. Your 8 hours per week is impressive so maybe you’ll get an excellent Happiness Return On Investment.

    I do love large soaking bathtubs, but somehow Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I managed to rent a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with only showers. :(

  32. Financial Coach Brad

    Wow. We had a hot tub at a previous house but it was already there when we purchased. So I had no idea just how expensive they are to have installed.

    While I LOVED the hot tub back then (this was about 8 years ago in a different city), where we live now is pretty hot 8 months of the year. So not an idea location for a hot tub.

  33. I don’t have one but it’s something I’ve considedered doing repeatedly. Some questions:
    Why did he not like the deck idea other then reinforcement? My plans to date is when it is time to replace my deck sinking a hot tub in the deck so it would be seated on the ground but mid deck.

    Does anyone have experience with one in a colder climate?

    I’m probably five to ten years from making it happen.

    1. Weight and risk of the hot tub breaking the deck and causing injury. My deck is about 11 feet in the air. I’d have to hire guys to reinforce the deck with at least one, if not two 18 foot wide beams in the middle. It would have probably worked, and the view from the hot tub would be sweet as a result!

      The negatives would be:

      1) I’d lose about 300 sqft of usable space underneath my deck due to the new support pillars
      2) Risk the deck I just built may crack/break or come apart from the house it is attached to
      3) Privacy – I’d be exposed to my neighbors. Underneath the deck is very private and still has some views of the ocean

  34. The Green Swan

    As we would all expect you certainly put a lot of thought and research into this prior to purchasing the hot tub. That’s something I wish more people would do before jumping into ownership with large ticket items! I can’t say a hot tub is something I’ve pondered, however you make a good case to owning one! My in-laws have one at their house that we’ve enjoyed during our trips to visit them. We’ve even jumped out and made a few snow angels… it is the Midwest after all!

  35. Oh man I want a hot tub so badly I can taste it. I just got back from vacation where I spent every evening in the hot tub by the beach. Hearing the waves crash with the jets massaging my feet and back were amazing. Sounds like you’re going to be enjoying your hot tub for years to come.

    1. Yes, I can picture the hot tub now for you! Just remember that getting a hot tub is more than just buying the hot tub. You will encounter all these things I’ve mentioned in this post. And the hot tub dealer won’t make it easy for you to get things set up. They just want to sell you the hot tub!

  36. Ten Bucks a Week

    Growing up I had to clean our pool which could be quite a task. But a hot tub seems like a nice size. Thanks for sharing the details. I like the light, did you go for the music too?

    1. There’s actually five different colors with five different light settings. Its pretty trippy. No music speakers as I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors. Besides, I have my iPhone w/ pretty strong speakers today.

  37. Sam, that’s a sick hot tub! I’m sure your wife loves it too. Your pad is looking better every day!

    I don’t know that I’d drop $15k on a hot tub today, but I have spent a grand removing a hot tub from a rental property (too much liability). We had to get a crane to hoist it out as you mentioned.

    Out of curiosity, what do you estimate the increased value of the hot tub to your home now?

    1. Michael, I’m going to guess the hot tub added anywhere from half its value to 300% of its value to the property i.e. $6,500 – $45,000. I say this b/c some people couldn’t care less about a hot tub. But some people like me find it to be one of the key selling points of renting a vacation property (a popular thing people on Airbnb or VRBO look for) or buying a home.

      I’ve purposefully bought and built my home to create a spa-like residence with the master bathroom, deck off bedroom, view, and now hot tub. I’ve always fantasized about affording those $2,000/night suites I see on vacation with such amenities, so I figured, why not build my own for much less!

      I remember renting a villa at Banyan Tree Resort in Indonesia with a hot tub overlooking the forest hills and ocean and thought it was just the bomb.

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