In-Ground vs. Above-Ground Pools: Which Is the Best Investment?

A pool is an expensive home improvement project that will likely improve your quality of life, but it doesn’t necessarily add value to your home.

Elderly Woman Lies in a Blue Paddling Pool, Sunbathing and Relaxing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Figuring out if an above-ground vs. an in-ground pool is the best fit for your yard, budget and lifestyle can be a complicated decision. They differ significantly in a many ways, from upfront cost, maintenance, ability to customize to overall lifespan.

How much it adds depends on several factors, including the type and style of the pool and whether pools are a must-have feature where you live.

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Above-ground vs. in-ground pools: how their costs compare
Header Cell - Column 0 In-ground Above-ground Winner
Up-front costAn in-ground pool costs $25,000 to $100,000An above-ground pool costs $1,600 to $7,500Above-ground pools
InstallationAn inground pool, however, can take weeks. These pools require heavy machinery to dig out the siteInstalling an above ground pool is much easier and quicker than installing an inground pool Above-ground pools
Pool cleaning feesIf you hire a professional pool service to do the work for you, that cost is between $80 and $150 per month$80 to $150 for a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning service. You can expect to pay $5 to $15 for the necessary chemicals. If you hire a professional pool service to do the work for you, that cost is between $80 and $150 per month Above-ground pools
CustomizationIn-ground pools offer the most variety and customization. Above- ground pools can be customized with decks and wraparound sidingIn-ground pools
Long term investmentA well-maintained in-ground pool can last 20 to 50 years- depending on the typeAn above ground pool typically lasts 10 to 15 yearsIn-ground pools
Added valueAn inground swimming pool provides a 15% to 25% ROI and increases the value of a home by 5% to 7%$0 Above-ground pools are generally considered temporary structures and likely will not be included in an appraisalIn-ground pools
Removal $5,000-$15,000$475- $5,000Above-ground pools

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Donna LeValley
Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation.