Estimating pool/spa operating costs
I originally posted this over in the real estate forum, but it was recommended that I ask here.
As I shop for a house, I'm considering some that have pools and spas. I've read extensively about the pros and cons of pools and spas, so that's not what I'm asking about here.
What I want to know is the best way to estimate how much I should expect to spend on keeping a pool and/or spa going:
Pool maintenance person
Power for the pump
I know this can have huge variation, but without having any idea, it makes it very hard to create a budget and figure out how much house I can comfortably afford. I've seen some people claim that their entire expense is under $100/mo, and others claiming over $1k/mo. That has a massive impact on affordability. In general I'm plugging in "worst case scenario" numbers into my budget, so any surprises are for the better rather than the worse. But with a range this wide, it starts to get ridiculous.
Someone told me to ask the seller for utility bills. That's fine, once we get to the offer stage, but when I'm considering 3 dozen possible places, half of which have a pool or a spa, it's not really practical.
Can anyone give me some help here? Resources I can look at? Guidelines to use? I'm in Southern California.