Growing up, I remember always being so excited when we had the chance to stay at a lake house during the summer.
My family did not have one, but I had a relative that had one, and several friends that had lake houses.
While at most I would go down once per summer (and a few years not at all), I always remember those visits being a blast and something I would look forward to for weeks in advance.
This past weekend, all my close friends from high school gathered together for a bachelor party at my friend’s lake house.
The event proved no exception: while the gathering was tons of fun, the appeal of staying at another lake house was the same as when I was a kid.
While pre-FIRE discovery I used to think I would love owning a vacation lake house to visit during the summers, my thinking has changed a bit since then.
Owning two houses (and paying two mortgages) isn’t a very practical way to build wealth and become financially independent earlier than most (unless you can rent one house out while you are staying at the other).
So I had the thought: what if instead I lived full time at a lake house?
After all, once I’m FIRE, I won’t be tied down to any location for a job so no worrying about being more remote. Since I have a lot of joy staying on a lake, wouldn’t I want to be there more often!?
With this thought in mind, I approached the weekend a little differently, trying to see if living the lake life is something I could do permanently.
After speaking with my friend who is renting and living at a lake house year round, and experiencing the weekend for myself, here are a few pros and cons to living at a lake house.
Living on a lake, you’re right in the middle of nature. You’ve got the water right there, and many lakes have a network of trails around them for outdoorsy people.
In addition, there are all sorts of activities in and around a lake you can do to stay active. This includes swimming, kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boarding among other activities you can do elsewhere such as hiking and biking.
Lakes also tend to have a cooling effect on the surrounding area, so those hot summer days don’t feel as bad!
Not to mention, lakes are generally away from the bigger cities, meaning you’ll most likely high better air quality.
Lake front homes can offer some pretty amazing views. Because the house has the lake to one side of it, this can offer some unobstructed views that could go for miles.
Even better, depending what direction this faces, you can get some pretty cool views of the sunrise, sunset or both!
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This past weekend I was at a bachelor party for one of my good friends growing up. One of our friends rents a house on one of the finger lakes so it was the perfect place to host it and keep the costs relatively inexpensive. Even though I grew up in Upstate New York, I’m still blown away by the beautiful sights!
Get yourself a porch and a nice book and enjoy the sights around you! Can anyone else picture that!?
Last but not least, should you ever decide to move and sell your lake house, there’s a good chance it will have appreciated in value. Sure most homes will appreciate over time as well.
However, one thing that lake front properties have going for them: there’s only so many of them out there. Because the land around lakes is limited, this means there is a low supply. If demand rises above that supply, it drives the price up (I knew that economics degree would come in handy some day!)
While any investment involves risk, buying one at the right time could make this a good investment as well as a place to live.
As mentioned in the section above, there’s a reason that lake front property is typically so expensive. Supply and Demand!
Not only are the prices higher than normal homes, generally everything else about them is expensive too.
Maintenance can be higher than normal due to exposure to the lake environment (think humidity, mist, erosion, etc).
Taxes are often higher around lakes as the towns/associations need to maintain the lake and surrounding area.
Home Insurance can be higher for the same reasons the maintenance is higher. In addition, as lakes are typically rural, it’ll probably cost more for things such as utilities, food, gas, etc.
This is all not even including should you choose to purchase and maintain a boat. It all adds up!
Depending on the size of the property you have, privacy could be a major concern. Some lakes have many houses very close each other which could lead to privacy concerns.
My friends lake house was very close to other people houses. We may have been a bit loud at times (apologies neighbors!), so visitors and noise could be something you’d have to deal with during peak season.
In addition, lakes attract a lot more people than just those living there. Hopefully you like the sound of motor boats!
While this was listed as a con, it most definitely could also be a pro, as in the off seasons, the lake is likely much less populated. This could lead to much more privacy, peace and quiet!
Lastly, one must take into consideration the weather when living in a lake house year round. Mid-Atlantic/Northern lakes will have to deal with very cold winters.
If there’s snow, rural roads are usually not as well kept as more populated areas which could lead to challenges.
While 3 seasons of the year may be great, those winter months could prove harsh.
In addition, during the warmer weather you’ll most definitely have to deal with bugs. Mosquitoes especially (my 50+ bites I’ve been scratching all week can attest to that).
If I ever live on a lake I would definitely need to figure out a way to combat them as they are particularly fond of me for reasons unknown.
Would You Live on a Lake?
After going through these pros and cons there’s definitely a lot to think about.
The high expenses and dealing with bugs don’t seem very ideal, but the positives may very well make up for all that.
This analysis of the Pros/Cons hasn’t scared me away and I’m keeping this idea of potentially living in a lake house open.
The thought has crossed my mind of buying a lake house as a rental property and eventually moving in once FIRE’d. However, I think there are better markets to get rental properties at right now.
As the home prices are fairly high and many housing markets are at or near all time highs, I may wait to see if there’s a better time in the future to potentially buy a lake house for much cheaper.
After all, in the event of a future recession, sometimes you can get a good deal on a vacation homes as people can no longer afford two houses and choose to sell.
As always, there is a lot of time between now and Financial Independence so things can always change. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with planning out potential future avenues and keeping your options open! 🙂
Would you ever live on a lake? Why or why not? Are there any other Pros/Cons to living on a lake that I missed? Would love to hear from someone who currently does this!