Swim Spa vs In-Ground Pool - Which is Best? (Considerations, pros, cons, and more)

Are you deciding between a swim spa or an in-ground pool? Read this article to learn the pros and cons of each option and which will work best for you.

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This article compares swim spas and in-ground pools including features, pros and cons, and how much they cost. After reading you should have a good idea of which option would best meet your needs, budget, and lifestyle.

In this guide, you'll learn:

Watch: How many square metres do you need for a pool?

What is a swim spa?

Swim spas are a cross between a spa and a swimming pool, offering one place for swimming, exercise, and relaxation. Swim spas are a lot bigger and deeper than spa pools.

They typically measure 4 to 8 meters long and 1.3 to 1.5 meters deep. Swim spas allow people to swim against a constant stream of moving water or an artificial current produced by large swim jets. They are the equivalent of treadmills for swimmers – you simply swim in place without going forward.

Since you won't need a lengthy pool to swim lengths, swim spas are a convenient and compact option. Swim spas can be installed both above-ground and in-ground.

swim spa

What is an in-ground pool?

To put it simply, an in-ground pool is a type of swimming pool that is built permanently into the ground. In-ground pools can add a real wow factor to your outdoor area, especially in summer. The most common types of in-ground pools are built using concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl liners as their primary material of construction.

The size and shape of an inground pool can be designed according to the desires of the homeowner, especially if it will be made from concrete. Smaller in-ground pools typically measure 3 x 6 meters, while the bigger ones would be around 6 x 12 meters or more. Lap pools would require more space as they are, on average, 3 meters wide and 15 meters long.

Inground pools are great for families and can be a venue for a lot of fun activities during the warmer months. They are usually not heated, although it is possible to install heating systems at an extra cost.

in-ground pool

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What is the best size pool for my home?

Aside from considering what purpose you want it to serve, the type of pool you should purchase or install will mainly depend on the size of your backyard. Some backyards just don't have enough space for an in-ground pool. A swim spa may be the only type of pool that will fit in certain yards.

The easiest way to find out what type of pool will fit your backyard is to go out there and measure the space. Once you know the size you are working with, you can contact a professional to weigh up your options.

If you find that you have very limited space for a swimming pool and want to consider a swim spa instead, many spa companies, like Spa World™, now offer Augmented Reality (AR) – a technology that lets you virtually try out different spa pools in your space so you can get a sense of how they look or fit. This will help you see what it will look like in your space, compare different models, and decide which is best for you.

Watch: How a swim spa is installed by crane

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Is a swim spa or inground pool cheaper to install?

If you compare the average purchase and installation costs of a swim spa with an in-ground pool, a swim spa will likely be the most economical option.

Cost is likely the biggest consideration when choosing what to buy. Consider the following two costs while setting your initial budget:

  • The purchase cost
  • Swim spa install cost

Swim spa

The cost of installing a swim spa varies depending on the brand, the type of installation and the location.

Swim spas range in price from $16,999 to $89,999. But, you can purchase a good quality swim spa within a price range of $20,000 to $30,000.

Above-ground swim spas are a lot cheaper to install than in-ground alternatives. The simplest, cheapest swim spa installations are craned into position on a concrete pad, plugged in and ready to go within 24 hours. In these instances, you just need to factor in the cost of delivery, landscaping and building the concrete pad, and installing an appropriate, safe power source. A standard above-ground swim spa installation costs between $2,000 to $5,000.

If you want something a bit more bespoke such as a swim spa inground into a timber deck, then you’ll need to add landscaping and material costs. We can’t give a price range for this as there are too many variables to consider. We recommend getting a quote from a trusted landscaping company before deciding on a swim spa, so you can work out a total budget and there are no surprises down the track.

As mentioned above, swim spas can be installed inground and above-ground. If you are thinking of an inground swim spa, you’ll need to add the cost of decking, framing or landscaping. The final price might increase by an extra $10,000 to $20,000.

Above-ground swim spas are cheaper to install, although you will still need to have a concrete pad and make sure there is clearance around the spa for the cover and access. Read this article below for more information on installing a swim spa in a deck or pit.

Inground swimming pool installation costs

An inground pool is a more expensive option overall. Depending on the material, installation expenses, and the pool style that you prefer, costs may differ. For example, an inground pool made of fibreglass ranges from $25,000 to $75,000. While a concrete in-ground pool could cost between $35,000 to $100,000 to install. Your location and the size of your pool will also impact the final cost.

At around $100,000+ to install, custom-built concrete or gunite pools cost significantly more than pre-made fibreglass models due to their specialised construction and cost of materials.

In summary, here is an average price range for the different options:

  • Above-ground swim spa – $19,000 to $36,000
  • Inground swim spa – $27,000 to $50,000
  • Inground pool pre-made fibreglass – $25,000 to $75,000
  • Inground custom-built concrete or gunite pool – $35,000 to $100,000

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Swim Spa vs In-Ground Pool Running Costs

If you’re deciding between a pool or a swim spa, the swim spa is the clear winner when it comes to ongoing running costs.

On average, you can expect to pay $1,800 to $3,600 a year to run a swim spa or plunge pool with around 8,000 to 10,000 litres of water.

In comparison, heating a standard-sized residential swimming pool with 30,000 litres of water could cost anywhere from $4,450 to $9,720 or more each year in running costs.

Learn more about swim spa vs swimming pool running costs below.

running cost

Swim Spa vs In-Ground Pool Maintenance Costs

Whether you are buying a swim spa or a pool, they will both need regular maintenance and treatment with chemicals to keep the water clean, clear and safe.

Swim Spa Maintenance Costs

The average cost of treating swim spa water is between $250 to $500 per year, depending on how much water is used and the size of the spa.

Getting a high-quality swim spa model might cost more upfront; however because they typically come with advanced filtration and purification systems, you’re likely to spend less money in the long run on chemicals and water treatments.

In-ground Pool Maintenance Costs

Depending on the size of your in-ground pool and if it is covered or uncovered, the typical yearly expense for chemicals on an average-sized pool to maintain water sanitation is around $400 to $600. The size of the pool is one of the primary factors in determining how much chemical you need. As the size of the pool increases, so does the amount of chemicals you will need to buy.

From time to time, you might also need the service of a pool cleaning company that would cost $60 to $150 for a regular clean or up to $1,000 for specialised cleans, which can be pricey because you need this kind of service at least 4 times a year to maintain the cleanliness of your in-ground pool.

Is a swim spa easier to install than an in-ground pool?

Depending on the finish and size of the pool, installing, filling, and properly operating an in-ground pool typically takes between 4 to 6 months from getting permits to excavation, to construction. Factors such as the issuance of permits, inspections, landscaping, and the weather can all cause delays.

On the other hand, swim spas are much easier and faster to install, as they can be set up in 2 to 3 weeks or 10 to 12 weeks, depending on the project's complexity.

Watch: Can you fit a pool in a small backyard or section?

Can a swim spa be installed in-ground?

Yes, but you also need to take into consideration the location and make sure there is access to equipment for servicing.

Make sure there is adequate space around the swim spa to enable access and to reach the controls, piping, pumps, and heaters through the panels underneath the spa.

You must also make room for a drainage hole that is at least 1 m by 1 m in size. For instance, a 5.5m × 3.3m hole will be needed for a pool spa that is 4m x 2.3m, as well as a 1m x 1m hole for drainage.

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Which is easier to maintain: a swim spa or a pool?

As mentioned above, swim spas and swimming pools both require regular maintenance to ensure the water is clean, clear and safe to use.

Swimming Pool Maintenance

Weekly maintenance is generally required for in-ground pools. This upkeep includes adding chemicals, brushing the surface to prevent algae growth, skimming the pool’s surface, and cleaning the pool’s bottom using a vacuum.

Automatic systems are also common in pools, but they are optional and can cost several thousand dollars. A swimming pool will also be far more difficult to restore than a swim spa if you happen to neglect your water for a period.

Swim Spa Maintenance

Much of the maintenance mentioned above is unnecessary if you own a swim spa. A swim spa's automatic filtration system can readily remove any floating material that falls into the water because they are considerably smaller than an in-ground pool.

Automatic cleaning systems are included in the majority of swim spas on the market, which makes cleaning and maintenance simple. These include systems for chlorinating saltwater, ozone clarifiers, and sterilizing surfaces using UV light. With these systems, you can balance the water once a week with a basic test strip and use around a tablespoon of sanitiser every couple of days.

What are the pros and cons of a swim spa?

A swim spa allows you to soak in heated water while you work out, relax, and rejuvenate. They are often used by families, people who prefer to work out at home, and those who love to swim but don’t have access to a swimming pool. But what are the pros and cons of a swim spa? We’ve listed them out for you.



Swim spas are pools and spas combined.Less space for splashing around.
You can practise swimming in them, thanks to swim jets.Unless they’re inground, swim spas aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as inground pools.
They are ideal all year round for exercise, enjoyment, and relaxation.
You can use them year-round, even in cooler months.
Lower running costs than a full-size pool
Easy to maintain.
Swim spas are portable.
Great for families and teaching kids to swim.

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What are the pros and cons of an in-ground pool?

If you’re looking to build your dream backyard oasis, an in-ground swimming pool might be your first option. An in-ground pool can be a beautiful addition to your home and backyard. It’s a relaxing spot where kids can splash around and adults can enjoy a cool dip in the summer. But before you decide to invest in a pool, here are the pros and cons that you need to consider.



Aesthetically appealing and could increase the value of a property.Because they are commonly larger, they require more space and reduce outdoor space.
Great place to cool off during summer.Expensive to install.
If spacious enough, you can do swimming and other water exercises in warmer months.Generally only used 2-3 months of the year during the summer season.
Can accommodate more people during parties and events.Time-consuming to maintain and keep clean.
Great for families and teaching kids to swim.Not portable. The investment stays with the house as they are permanent fixtures in your backyard.

Watch: Swim spa owner review

In Summary

A lot of people have chosen a swim spa as an alternative to a conventional in-ground pool. However, it's important to recognize that both swim spas and in-ground pools have particular benefits and drawbacks. The decision you choose depends on your budget, your circumstances, your needs, and how often you want to use it.

To find out if a swim spa can be suitable for your needs and requirements, the best way is to visit a Spa World™ near you so you can try and test a swim spa and talk to our experts for tips and advice.

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