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!
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!
27 thoughts to “Would You Live On A Lake?”
I’m not sure I would. I think the privacy/peace and quiet would be very appealing to me, especially in the spring and fall. However, I’ve never been a big swimming/boating type person. The price would also be a deterrent for me.
I think I’ve only been to a lake house once in my life. It was I believe the summer of my senior year of high school, a friend of mine’s family had this place in the Adirondacks. It was very isolated (which I liked) and we really had to take a road off the beaten path to get there. I remember parking the car and then actually taking a boat across the lake to get to the house. Literally in the middle of the woods and no other houses on the lake. There were some nice hiking trails up in the hills behind it. I’m sure in the winter you could probably walk across the ice to get to the house! Wouldn’t be easy to get to at all.
Woah that’s super remote! I’m not sure I’d want to do something like that long term but definitely would be cool to experience that! Love going to the Adirondacks though!
I think the only time I’ve stayed at a lake house was last Thanksgiving when my family rented one for a few days instead of my aunt/uncle/cousins coming to our house as usual. And even though we’re way more of a beach family, it was awesome!
I’d be torn about whether to rent or buy. I would LOVE to be able to kayak all the time, but hearing people’s huge boats would definitely be a downside in the summer. And the expensive upkeep is definitely a deterrent. So I’d probably start off renting for an extended period of time probably late summer/into fall, unless I saw an awesome opportunity to purchase a lake house somewhere. I don’t at all like the thought of being on a frozen lake in the winter… maybe a lake house somewhere in the south haha.
Haha yea I’m very interested to see how my friend likes it during the winter up there (since he just started renting). Him and I are very similar so could be a factor in how I feel about it for long term!
If you don’t care about space too much, in certain areas of the country, you could get a sizable piece of land and a nice building for less than $200k..
I’m looking at that right now 😉
Oh really!? I’m definitely interested, let’s chat about this later this month 🙂
Waterfront property is amazing. There is a reason why these properties come at a premium because as you said they are only so many available lake lots in a given area.
I grew up in Louisiana and had the fortune of living full time in my house which backed on to a beautiful lake. I came home and there was easy access to boating and fishing (we had a 17 ft boat with boat lift, a 14 ft bateau (flat bottom boat) with 9.8 hp motor (that was mine), and a canoe.
Having a lake, and a pool, made my place a fun hangout for everyone and I enjoyed it immensely.
When I decided to buy my forever home (suffered some brutal winters in Ohio where I trained and finished a fellowship) I knew it had to be below the snow belt and it had to be waterfront.
I got super fortunate finding my dream property which was not a lake but actually has two natural waterfalls (8 ft and 50 ft) about 200 ft behind my house.
There is a nearby lake as well (about 4 miles away) and at one point I had a boat however after figuring out that trailering the boat was becoming a chore and my family didn’t seem to enjoy boating as much as I would have liked, I sold it.
If you can swing waterfront property, I think it will always be a good investment as those are the most desirable locations on most people’s real estate shopping list.
Wow that sounds like the dream! I would love having waterfalls and a lake nearby. Totally hear you on living below the snow belt, it was very enjoyable when I lived in LA for a year and did not have to deal with that. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for properties like these!
Most definitely. In retirement I plan on having a base of operations at a home around a lake. Half the year there and half traveling. We do a lake trip for two weeks every summer.
That’s a great idea! I think I could totally swing that and especially if I’m on a northern lake, traveling during those cold winter months would be ideal!
It 100% depends on which lake! But the answer is YES. We love water, boating, swimming, staring at it, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP… my dream is to sit and watch the sun rise over water while sipping my coffee, every day forever. So… someday. But it has to be the right house, at the right price, on the right lake. None of this northerner snow and ice BS. Sweet southern summer all the way!
So true! Not all lakes are equal haha. I hear you on that dream… I’ve thought of it many times! Totally hear you though, need to keep our eyes peeled for the right ones for us!
Budget Epicurean can vouch for their house since she’s been there, but my parents live on the lake 🙂 They actually did the whole beach house thing for a while but realized they MUCH prefer owning just one home. It is absolutely more expensive though!
Wow that’s so nice! I do think I’d prefer the same just owning a single place. Owning two would be so much more work especially if trying to rent it out for the periods you are there
They never rented it out, but just the maintenance and upkeep (and need for two sets of a lot of things) eventually made it not worth their while.
I would, but probably only if the lake didn’t allow motorized boats. Or if it were in a “no wake” section of the lake. The constant noise of loud boat motors would admittedly bother me.
But to be able to fish and paddle out my backdoor – hell yeah!
Yep I totally agree with you there. Seriously though the outdoor water activities would be so nice to have right there for you!
Oh man, would I ever! Crystal Lake in northwest Michigan is my serenity now spot. Beautiful slice of fresh water just a skip from Lake Michigan. Granted, you get maybe four or five months max of enjoyment in summer, but still…
Yea I do love the northern lakes… but so little time to enjoy! Darn those cold, dark winters…
This is what we are doing right now! We aren’t right on the water, it’s about a mile to the marina and the state park with trails and beaches. We can drive our golf cart around the neighborhood, and to aforementioned marina (where there is a restaurant) and park. It is indeed quieter during the fall and winter and I enjoy that peaceful lull between the busy summers. -Nickel
So jealous! Wow I’ve seen some people who have those golf carts to ride around in and that looks so fun! Need to find myself an area like this haha
Definitely. Wouldn’t mind living on a lake at all! I think depending on what lake and what state the prices should fluctuate and be reasonable. Lots of lakes in Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas (as well as many other states) where lakefront may not be quite so expensive.
I love the nature and hiking/running aspect of things. I am not a boater, but swimming and canoeing is great!
Very true, those northern lakes would absolutely be pretty nice to get a cheaper spot on instead of some of the other pricier spots. I’d love to go canoeing whenever I wanted to!
I think our equivalent here would be a beach house (we have so much coast, not many lakes). Personally I like going to different places on holiday, I’m also not a huge fan of sand haha. I do love relaxing by the ocean though … tough choice!
Haha living at a beach house and not being a fan of sand doesn’t seem to make too much sense to me! 😂 but hey I hear you on relaxing by the ocean though. So calming and nice!
My husband and I have always dreamed of living near a lake. It’s so fun to read that doing so can offer you fun activities such as kayaking and canoeing and can keep you cooler in the summer. I’d love to look into waterfront homes for sale in Oconto County to see what our options are.
Yes I’ve had my eye on lakefront properties for quite some time now! Maybe in the near future I’ll be able to buy a place and live on one!!