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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    819

    Default Input on Cabin Ownership, Please

    A cabin up North has been a dream of mine for years. May never be more than just that to be perfectly honest, but since it tends to get slow around here in the Summer, thought we might be able to discuss. Something on the water that we could fish / boat in the Summer and obviously near the trails for winter fun. I personally could live in a shack, but if I want ANY chance of getting the wife up there from time to time, it would need to be a bit less rustic. LOL!

    I honestly have not a clue where to start and was hoping to get some input from those of you that have owned a cabin in the Northwoods.

    1) Things one may not typically consider with owning a vacation property (the good, the bad, the ugly --- All of it, please!). Particularly anything to consider for those COLD winter months up north, because it would certainly be used all four seasons.

    2) How to go about “seeing” properties when you are 4+ hours away? I assume a good realtor is critical, but again, not sure where to even start with one. We can't take a trip up there each time we think we see something we might like.

    3) My approach with the wife is that (God willing) I’ve got 10 more good years of riding in me and then I’d be hanging up the sport. At that point we would sell and get something in a nice warm climate --- Which is what she wants now, so this is a hard sell at this point!!! Has anyone had experience “selling” their cabin and did it seem to sit or sell relatively quickly? I know that this is largely driven by the market, but curious of others experiences in getting out from under a property when ready to do so.

    Again, this is largely a pipe dream at this point, but trying to start gathering some information to be better educated.

    Thanks All for your insight, thoughts, opinions. Much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wis.
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    2,036

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    Good luck,,, properties on the market up north are going in a blink of an eye. You literally have to put an offer in in 24 hours or less.
    Buyers are purchasing sight unseen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Depere wi / Pembine wi
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    68

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    I have a cabin near Pembine since 2002 and my best advise is keep your drive under 2 hours or you will get sick of the drive and not use the place like you think you would . my drive is 1.5 hr and i can go for a day if i feel like it . my next door neighbors just put their place for sale this weekend because they live in Chicago and got tired of the drive .

  4. #4

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    Market is super hot for sellers right now, not buyers unfortunately. All buyers right now are impulse purchase unless you know the property before it gets listed. If you decide to go for it, have funds ready, and be prepared to be on site that day. I bought mine almost 19 years ago now, and don't regret a single minute of it. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Shorewood,IL and Woodruff Wisconsin
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    1,387

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    I have a 6 hour drive to the house in Woodruff. With a flexible schedule I usually leave Thursday afternoon and come back home Monday night every other week when I can fish or snowmobile. We are not on the lake but we like to fish all the different lakes in the Northwoods. Do not think its a good time to even look at houses up there wait till the demand dies down.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North Twin Cities
    Posts
    1,286

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    You may have answered some of your own questions especially relating to the drive.
    We looked for a few years and drove up to shop. It is a good way to get a feel for the drive you will end up doing more often than imagined. It will also give you a good feel for the community around the lake or cabin. If you don't like the drive or the neighborhood, you already know some main components of owning the property.

    Being on the water is a joy for myself. I wouldn't want to look at a property without knowing the lake. There is an incredible contrast in lakes and lake shore useage. I wouldn't purchase without being on the water first.

    The useful advice about the market is spot on right now. It is not easy shopping with desired properties. Be ready to spend and spend fast if you want to offer. Some recent sales that I've watched are nuts. Twenty five percent over ask with no chance of appraisal. It would be tough to compete in a hot cash buyer market with highly desired properties. The shacks might give you a better shot.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    SC WISCONSIN
    Posts
    366

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    After being allowed to borrow a few people's cabin's it puts owning one in a different perspective. when you are up there helping to maintain it, clean it, wash sheets and put back on the beds it made me realize that we will not be able to own one until closer to retirement age. It makes it so the usual 3-4 days that we are at them have less free time to go up there and have fun. Most of the people that we borrow from can go up there 1-3 weeks at a time. It also helps to own it with a friend or family member that you trust and get along with, you just have to set guidelines on who else gets to use it. The last cabin that we borrowed we are not allowed to talk about it because a few of the family members are not wanted up there lol. The market is too hot right now to even look, even some of the places that used to be cheaper are getting expensive. It is crazy what people are paying for a 40 of junk land. Also keep in mind that getting work done to your cabin or property is nearly impossible anymore, I have heard from many it is a struggle to just get bids. The trades guys know this and rates are pretty high for good work now.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Depere wi / Pembine wi
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    68

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    what chunk06 said about getting plumbers or carpenters or other tradesmen is so true they are hard to get to show up and if they do never pay it all up front .That being said after 20 years of owning my cabin i still get excited to go up every weekend .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Cloquet, MN
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    1,223

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    We built our cabin 15 yrs ago and don't regret it at all. People have mentioned the drive, when we started building we were close to 4 hrs away. After the first yr I changed jobs and now only 1 3/4 hrs away, much better! When our kids were younger we used it a lot more than we currently do, maybe every other weekend and usually 2-3 week stay in the summer and a week at Christmas. Once they got into HS it was more of a struggle for the long breaks as they didn't want to do anything with the parents anymore. Now that they are out of the house hopefully we start getting back up there more.
    As someone else mentioned though there is upkeep. Its another house you need to maintain. I hear about it from my family when we go up there sometimes that all we do is work up there. Well the grass has to be mowed, the wood shed has to stay full, the trails and driveway have to be maintained. A lot of times I'll just go up myself and do it as its just easier!
    Regarding friends and family using it nothing annoyed more in my life than when a sister in law called and asked about using it for a weekend that we already planned to be up there. She had the nerve to ask if we could move our date as she had already made plans with another couple to be up there. When we said no she then asked if we could tow our camper up and set it up in the driveway for them. I said no again as I was pulling my other trailer up so I could bring my tractor up as it was wood cutting weekend. So they then pulled up our camper and set it up in the driveway. They all went out sightseeing the next day while my wife, kids, and I cut and split firewood. While we were sitting around a fire later that evening roasting hot dogs they showed back up and plopped down by the fire and she made the comment "how nice it was to have a free cabin to go to!" I about threw her in the fire. And while I got off on a bit of a tangent there it is a challenge to say no to people and if you say yes explain your expectations.

    But its great to have a home base for snowmobiling, it's close enough for a day trip, and I call it my happy place!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Lakeville, MN
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    If your main reason for being "up north" is snowmobiling, just rent a place when you go, or stay at hotels/motels/resorts. The snow will NOT always be where you decide to purchase, where if you are mobile, you can chase the snow. If you purchase, then you are pretty much set to go to that spot every time you go somewhere. It's hard to justify going somewhere else when you are already paying for another place, at least that was the case for me.

    As for what Chunk06 said, yeah. Having a cabin up north is definitely like having a second home. If you are up for that, and can do most any repair yourself, then it may be for you. But again, be prepared to take care of the place when you are there, not unlike when you are home.

    To address your "COLD" months concerns - if you are not there all the time, plan on draining the water every time you leave. You cannot always trust the power will be there to keep the place from freezing. Could you put some sort of alarm on for a low temp? Sure, but then you are going to need to go check it ASAP, or have someone willing to do that for you.

    I had a cabin outside of the Winter, WI area for about 10 years, 3 hour drive for me, and though it was pretty cool to go up there, have my own stuff when I arrived, it took a fair amount of planning and preparation for those trips.

    Would I own a second property or cabin again? NO. Would I own something up north that was my full time residence? YES.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elf View Post
    We built our cabin 15 yrs ago and don't regret it at all. People have mentioned the drive, when we started building we were close to 4 hrs away. After the first yr I changed jobs and now only 1 3/4 hrs away, much better! When our kids were younger we used it a lot more than we currently do, maybe every other weekend and usually 2-3 week stay in the summer and a week at Christmas. Once they got into HS it was more of a struggle for the long breaks as they didn't want to do anything with the parents anymore. Now that they are out of the house hopefully we start getting back up there more.
    As someone else mentioned though there is upkeep. Its another house you need to maintain. I hear about it from my family when we go up there sometimes that all we do is work up there. Well the grass has to be mowed, the wood shed has to stay full, the trails and driveway have to be maintained. A lot of times I'll just go up myself and do it as its just easier!
    Regarding friends and family using it nothing annoyed more in my life than when a sister in law called and asked about using it for a weekend that we already planned to be up there. She had the nerve to ask if we could move our date as she had already made plans with another couple to be up there. When we said no she then asked if we could tow our camper up and set it up in the driveway for them. I said no again as I was pulling my other trailer up so I could bring my tractor up as it was wood cutting weekend. So they then pulled up our camper and set it up in the driveway. They all went out sightseeing the next day while my wife, kids, and I cut and split firewood. While we were sitting around a fire later that evening roasting hot dogs they showed back up and plopped down by the fire and she made the comment "how nice it was to have a free cabin to go to!" I about threw her in the fire. And while I got off on a bit of a tangent there it is a challenge to say no to people and if you say yes explain your expectations.

    But its great to have a home base for snowmobiling, it's close enough for a day trip, and I call it my happy place!
    Nice to be that close Troy, and its in the snow belt that almost ALWAYS has good rideable snow! (Even though you were much thinner this year than most!)

    But then again, from Des Moines, that's what, 7 hours one way? That would be a no go for me. I've actually tossed out the idea to the little woman of finding something up there for "retirement" and she seems good with that! Must be a keeper....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    819

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    Quote Originally Posted by choc_lab View Post
    I have a cabin near Pembine since 2002 and my best advise is keep your drive under 2 hours or you will get sick of the drive and not use the place like you think you would . my drive is 1.5 hr and i can go for a day if i feel like it . my next door neighbors just put their place for sale this weekend because they live in Chicago and got tired of the drive .
    Solid advice! I'm in central IA and pretty used to driving 3+hours for good snow, but you are correct... That would get old and used less with a further drive. Thank you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by harvest1121 View Post
    I have a 6 hour drive to the house in Woodruff. With a flexible schedule I usually leave Thursday afternoon and come back home Monday night every other week when I can fish or snowmobile. We are not on the lake but we like to fish all the different lakes in the Northwoods. Do not think its a good time to even look at houses up there wait till the demand dies down.
    Do you stomach the drive pretty well after years of ownership? I feel like the excitement would get me up there pretty often, but that obviously wears off over time. Yes, we don't intend to buy in the near term, just getting some thoughts gathered for when the time comes (if ever).

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    Quote Originally Posted by choc_lab View Post
    what chunk06 said about getting plumbers or carpenters or other tradesmen is so true they are hard to get to show up and if they do never pay it all up front .That being said after 20 years of owning my cabin i still get excited to go up every weekend .
    How long of a drive if you get up there pretty regularly?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    819

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    Quote Originally Posted by chunk06 View Post
    After being allowed to borrow a few people's cabin's it puts owning one in a different perspective. when you are up there helping to maintain it, clean it, wash sheets and put back on the beds it made me realize that we will not be able to own one until closer to retirement age. It makes it so the usual 3-4 days that we are at them have less free time to go up there and have fun. Most of the people that we borrow from can go up there 1-3 weeks at a time. It also helps to own it with a friend or family member that you trust and get along with, you just have to set guidelines on who else gets to use it. The last cabin that we borrowed we are not allowed to talk about it because a few of the family members are not wanted up there lol. The market is too hot right now to even look, even some of the places that used to be cheaper are getting expensive. It is crazy what people are paying for a 40 of junk land. Also keep in mind that getting work done to your cabin or property is nearly impossible anymore, I have heard from many it is a struggle to just get bids. The trades guys know this and rates are pretty high for good work now.
    Good consideration. I can handle some jobs, but as we get older, paying someone to do the work gets easier. But if you can't get anyone out there, that is a problem. Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    819

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    Quote Originally Posted by elf View Post
    We built our cabin 15 yrs ago and don't regret it at all. People have mentioned the drive, when we started building we were close to 4 hrs away. After the first yr I changed jobs and now only 1 3/4 hrs away, much better! When our kids were younger we used it a lot more than we currently do, maybe every other weekend and usually 2-3 week stay in the summer and a week at Christmas. Once they got into HS it was more of a struggle for the long breaks as they didn't want to do anything with the parents anymore. Now that they are out of the house hopefully we start getting back up there more.
    As someone else mentioned though there is upkeep. Its another house you need to maintain. I hear about it from my family when we go up there sometimes that all we do is work up there. Well the grass has to be mowed, the wood shed has to stay full, the trails and driveway have to be maintained. A lot of times I'll just go up myself and do it as its just easier!
    Regarding friends and family using it nothing annoyed more in my life than when a sister in law called and asked about using it for a weekend that we already planned to be up there. She had the nerve to ask if we could move our date as she had already made plans with another couple to be up there. When we said no she then asked if we could tow our camper up and set it up in the driveway for them. I said no again as I was pulling my other trailer up so I could bring my tractor up as it was wood cutting weekend. So they then pulled up our camper and set it up in the driveway. They all went out sightseeing the next day while my wife, kids, and I cut and split firewood. While we were sitting around a fire later that evening roasting hot dogs they showed back up and plopped down by the fire and she made the comment "how nice it was to have a free cabin to go to!" I about threw her in the fire. And while I got off on a bit of a tangent there it is a challenge to say no to people and if you say yes explain your expectations.

    But its great to have a home base for snowmobiling, it's close enough for a day trip, and I call it my happy place!
    You are more kind than I would have been! First, so rude to ask when you are already going. Like - You made plans to be there before even asking US (the OWNERS!!!). Never going to happen! LOL! And I agree that people should feel like putting in "some" light work if you are letting them go up for free. Cut some wood, do some laundry, cut the grass, trim. I know it's a "vacation" for them, but at the same time respect for the persons allowing you to use it. I always go out of my way to leave things better than I found them whenever I can! Just basic human decency. And for it to be a family member makes it even worse!

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    Quote Originally Posted by xcr440 View Post
    If your main reason for being "up north" is snowmobiling, just rent a place when you go, or stay at hotels/motels/resorts. The snow will NOT always be where you decide to purchase, where if you are mobile, you can chase the snow. If you purchase, then you are pretty much set to go to that spot every time you go somewhere. It's hard to justify going somewhere else when you are already paying for another place, at least that was the case for me.

    As for what Chunk06 said, yeah. Having a cabin up north is definitely like having a second home. If you are up for that, and can do most any repair yourself, then it may be for you. But again, be prepared to take care of the place when you are there, not unlike when you are home.

    To address your "COLD" months concerns - if you are not there all the time, plan on draining the water every time you leave. You cannot always trust the power will be there to keep the place from freezing. Could you put some sort of alarm on for a low temp? Sure, but then you are going to need to go check it ASAP, or have someone willing to do that for you.

    I had a cabin outside of the Winter, WI area for about 10 years, 3 hour drive for me, and though it was pretty cool to go up there, have my own stuff when I arrived, it took a fair amount of planning and preparation for those trips.

    Would I own a second property or cabin again? NO. Would I own something up north that was my full time residence? YES.

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    Nice to be that close Troy, and its in the snow belt that almost ALWAYS has good rideable snow! (Even though you were much thinner this year than most!)

    But then again, from Des Moines, that's what, 7 hours one way? That would be a no go for me. I've actually tossed out the idea to the little woman of finding something up there for "retirement" and she seems good with that! Must be a keeper....
    Right. I don't figure riding from the doorstep to be an option all the time, but an hour drive in the morning is much more doable than 5,6,7! Even something half way might do the trick.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    McHenry, Il / Gogebic West Shore
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    782

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    We sold our place on Gogebic 2.5 years ago. In the 12 years that we owned it we created more memories than I would have ever imagined. I miss that house; what it meant to me, my friends and my young family every day. I would not give up the experience for anything, but I am glad it is gone. I did not realize the time I spent thinking about the house (planning, worrying, etc) until it was gone. I could write pages about the pros and cons I experienced but I will save you the minutia. Here are a few of the biggest things to think about.

    - How far is the drive, how will you feel about driving there and back in a single day just to check on things or meet a tradesman who never shows up
    - Finding help can be very difficult if not impossible
    - Do you have the flexibility at work and with your family to run up when an issue arises
    - It never bothered me but my wife did not like going to the same area all the time
    - Do you know anyone in the area that can help you? I could not have kept that house as long as I did if it were not for a few great friends who lived nearby
    - The day you travel home will change significantly. You will be washing sheets and towels, cleaning, making lists of things you need to fix or bring up next time
    - It is a great feeling to pull up to your house, pull your car in the garage, have your toothbrush, beer, etc waiting for you and go to sleep in your own bed

    All that being said, I would do it again (and likely will when I get closer to retirement) in a heartbeat.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_b View Post
    We sold our place on Gogebic 2.5 years ago. In the 12 years that we owned it we created more memories than I would have ever imagined. I miss that house; what it meant to me, my friends and my young family every day. I would not give up the experience for anything, but I am glad it is gone. I did not realize the time I spent thinking about the house (planning, worrying, etc) until it was gone. I could write pages about the pros and cons I experienced but I will save you the minutia. Here are a few of the biggest things to think about.

    - How far is the drive, how will you feel about driving there and back in a single day just to check on things or meet a tradesman who never shows up
    - Finding help can be very difficult if not impossible
    - Do you have the flexibility at work and with your family to run up when an issue arises
    - It never bothered me but my wife did not like going to the same area all the time
    - Do you know anyone in the area that can help you? I could not have kept that house as long as I did if it were not for a few great friends who lived nearby
    - The day you travel home will change significantly. You will be washing sheets and towels, cleaning, making lists of things you need to fix or bring up next time
    - It is a great feeling to pull up to your house, pull your car in the garage, have your toothbrush, beer, etc waiting for you and go to sleep in your own bed

    All that being said, I would do it again (and likely will when I get closer to retirement) in a heartbeat.
    Thanks for sharing! Much of what you said is exactly what I dream of. People say "just rent"... Not the same (not even in the same ballpark) as driving up to YOUR place and having EVERYTHING there waiting for you! Excellent point about un-expected trips. Having friends / family in the area certainly would make a huge difference.

    My wife also feels like going to the same place all the time would get old. Me? I'm good with it!

    Hope you get to have the experience again soon! thanks for the info!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Manitowish Waters, WI and Village of Summit, Wisconsin
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    210

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    We bought a place in Manitowish Waters, WI in August of 2015. That was what I would consider when the market hit bottom in that area. Our place is on the chain as they call it (10 inter connected lakes with bars and restaurants that you can get to by boat. Everything that has been said is true but I would leave you with these thoughts: Do you have friends in the area? Do you like amenities like good places to eat? Do you want to pay to be on a nice body of water, bigger lake, chain? is a smaller lake ok, if so you can still find some decent deals. Are you prepared to make so many memories with your family that you will start planning all the holidays including Thanksgiving (when we received 2 ft of snow a couple years ago) and Christmas? It was always a dream of mine to own a place "Up north" as we say and the opportunity finally came up 6 years ago. I used Zillow to get a good idea of whats available and its fairly accurate. I remember our realtor saying to us that the guy that owned our place was ready to sell and we should put our offer in, it was a Saturday evening, I said to my wife if we don't make the offer tonight we won't get it and it will be gone because she said lets wait until Monday. She went to take a shower and and I signed my name on the offer and when she came out I asked her to sign her name and she did it and the rest is history, really good history...... Our drive is 4.5 hours door to door, job is flexible, we are leaving tomorrow at 1pm when I get home from Chicago. I never get tired of the drive but that will soon come to an end because we have decided to sell our house in Oconomowoc (crazy market right now for sellers) and move up permanently this summer. As was noted, you should wait until Fall to buy because people want to get rid of places and not carry them through the winter.

    Good luck to you with you search, The Northwoods is a special place with lots of great people.

  17. #17

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    i bought my place in 2004 had a 6 hour drive
    drive was no problem
    i could not have owned it if it were not for a great friend that lived down the street and took care of stuff for me
    loved it so much i moved here in 2017
    decided to say F U Illinois im done
    ton of jobs up here that pay very well
    no problem finding work
    finding contractors to do work is near impossible
    call 10 places 2 call u back and say there there booked till next year
    and this was before covid
    i have been trying to get my roof replaced since sept 2019
    i finally have someone doing it next week
    and im paying double what i paid for the roof i got in 2017 on my garage and my garage is bigger then my house
    that being said everything everyone else says is spot on
    wait 2 years tho
    market is totally nuts now
    and yes The Northwoods is a special place with lots of great people
    im in the minocqua area
    Last edited by hybrid; 06-02-2021 at 10:34 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    St Germain, WI
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    There are plenty of thing to do. Almost every weekend there is something going on somewhere within an hours drive year around. Only slow time is April.

  19. #19

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    the time between the end of snowmobiling and ice out is the worst time of year imo
    very little to do then rec wise
    could make some maple syrup if u got some trees
    or catch some pan fish if u want to venture out on the melting ice
    every year is different tho
    Last edited by hybrid; 06-03-2021 at 12:24 AM.

  20. #20
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    Mar 2019
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    Minnesota
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    Stay at different resorts instead. No maintenance or winterizing requirements, and when you want to upgrade you just check out a new area's resorts.
    No property taxes. No lugging docks and lifts in and out.
    Ride hard and put away wet. Lol.

  21. #21

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    Consider 100% maintenance free exterior!

  22. #22
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    Dec 2009
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    Watersmeet
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    Best advice I could give is make sure your spouse and family are on board because if they are not really it will not work. It will also change the way you vacation because you will want to go there because you own it instead of visiting other places. Not always but it will. If you have young kids that are into sports or stuff it makes it harder to get up to it, but as they get older and your time opens up getting to the cabin becomes easier. We started with a camp in the woods 17 years ago then 6 years ago got the lake house and because of covid it has become our permanent home and love everything about it, but so does my wife and is what makes it work. Last thing is yes prices are high right now and finding help is tough but if you plan properly that can be worked around.

  23. #23
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    Dec 2009
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    s.e. Wisconsin
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    There is some great solid advice in the posts above! I could probably write a book on my love/hate relationship with my Up North Log Cabin. My best advice is to be fully committed, do as much "homework" as you possibly can on the property that you want before you buy it and really take into consideration the area in which you buy, it's great to be away from everything until you need something like supplies and such and then the drive to go get things can be pain.
    My path has slightly changed for me with my property as I bought it when I was a single man. I'm now married and my wife really dislikes the 4+ hour drive to the cabin. I had plans to retire there, but that has changed for sure as my wife does not want to live there full time.
    Another piece of solid advice is to find a good realtor & then be assertive of what you actually want to look at as they sometimes will show properties just to "show them" and if you are traveling some hours to get there to look at places, you don't need the realtor wasting your time showing you something that you have no interest in.
    Good luck & have fun!

  24. #24
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    Dec 2009
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    St Germain, WI
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    721

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiviperman View Post
    There is some great solid advice in the posts above! I could probably write a book on my love/hate relationship with my Up North Log Cabin. My best advice is to be fully committed, do as much "homework" as you possibly can on the property that you want before you buy it and really take into consideration the area in which you buy, it's great to be away from everything until you need something like supplies and such and then the drive to go get things can be pain.
    My path has slightly changed for me with my property as I bought it when I was a single man. I'm now married and my wife really dislikes the 4+ hour drive to the cabin. I had plans to retire there, but that has changed for sure as my wife does not want to live there full time.
    Another piece of solid advice is to find a good realtor & then be assertive of what you actually want to look at as they sometimes will show properties just to "show them" and if you are traveling some hours to get there to look at places, you don't need the realtor wasting your time showing you something that you have no interest in.
    Good luck & have fun!
    +1000

    We messed with a dead-beat realtor for over a year and a half before we made a change, and we were driving from North Dakota. Only good thing is we have kids and grandkids in the area. Ended up buying within 3 weeks. That was almost 8 years ago.

  25. #25
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    Dec 2009
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    Lakeville, MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by 600_RMK_144 View Post
    Right. I don't figure riding from the doorstep to be an option all the time, but an hour drive in the morning is much more doable than 5,6,7! Even something half way might do the trick.
    If you are willing to do a couple hours in the morning and then again in the evening to ride "up north" for a day here and there, then there are a lot of options in central WI that would get you part way. Central WI has a lot to offer, and may not be as busy. I had a place in the Stevens Point area a few years ago, and that is considered "up north" for almost everyone from Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago - I had that place rented out every single weekend.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Cloquet, MN
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    Lots of good advice being offered up. One thing that resonates with me on our cabin is we really ride the same spots all the time. It started to get a bit stale and then last yr since we didn't have great snow I started exploring a bit more and I enjoyed that. Went down forest roads I'd never been on or hadn't been on in years and that was fun. Up where our cabin is there isn't a over abundance of trails but theres a ton of forest roads to play on.
    I also like the maintenance free comment. I joke that our cabin is vinyl siding and a metal roof while our house is a log house. Seems backwards but I do like never having the paint or stain ever up there.

    The comment abut renting isn't bad advice either. I could have spent a lot of nights at a real nice resort in different areas over the last 15 yrs and would still have spent less and wouldn't have had to mow lawns, shoveled snow, etc...

    Also the comment on good neighbors and getting to know them is spot on. When I first switched jobs we lived at our cabin for a year and got to know our neighbors well. So now one of them plows my driveway for me, I have another one I can call to go up and turn things off if I forgot to after we've left, and they call if they see anything suspicious. I got a call from one of them one weekend when my brother was up there.

    Would I do it again?? Yes, but maybe on a lake this time. We couldn't afford a lake lot that last time but that would be nice now.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Boulder Junction, Wi
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    305

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    Had been coming up north for years (starting in early 80's) in 1998 I bought a second home up here....did the drive (6 hours with no weather) back and forth for about 2 years....spent more time working on the place than having fun....finally decided it was either sell it or move up...I chose the latter....been here 21 years and have never regretted it. In my work position I've had to hire many, many people due to growth and other things. At this point we dont usually consider anyone from out of town as it frankly hardly ever works...People usually last one winter and they are gone. If you don't seriously like winter...its not a great place to be. Best advice I can give is to get your spouse fully onboard...that is the reason 98% people have left.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Iron River WI
    Posts
    845

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    Put a camper at a campground that has seasonal spots. Wont help you out on the winter snowmobile season but we all know that is iffy depending on the year and snowfall, just plan on staying at a resort or hotel for that. That's what we now wish we would have done instead of selling our mortgage free house in Iowa and building new and going back in debt . . This way if you choose to move north for good you'll know if you really like the area.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Des Moines, IA
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    819

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoveMyDobe View Post
    Put a camper at a campground that has seasonal spots. Wont help you out on the winter snowmobile season but we all know that is iffy depending on the year and snowfall, just plan on staying at a resort or hotel for that. That's what we now wish we would have done instead of selling our mortgage free house in Iowa and building new and going back in debt . . This way if you choose to move north for good you'll know if you really like the area.
    Actually considered this pretty seriously, but the upkeep on RVs (poorly built, constant leaking, always something to fix) really turned me off. I suppose if it's just sitting and not having all the wear & tear from the road / being hauled they probably hold up a bit better. A mobile home might be a bit better (maybe) and another option I've considered. Just go into knowing that the value will only depreciate and never go up like a cabin property might / could.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Really appreciate everyone's comments here. Has given me much to think about and consider! Exactly what I was looking for and needing. Thank you!!!

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Watertown WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by 600_RMK_144 View Post
    Actually considered this pretty seriously, but the upkeep on RVs (poorly built, constant leaking, always something to fix) really turned me off. I suppose if it's just sitting and not having all the wear & tear from the road / being hauled they probably hold up a bit better. A mobile home might be a bit better (maybe) and another option I've considered. Just go into knowing that the value will only depreciate and never go up like a cabin property might / could.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Really appreciate everyone's comments here. Has given me much to think about and consider! Exactly what I was looking for and needing. Thank you!!!
    We have a camper at campground year round. I used it a few times to go snowmobiling, but I dont do much to any riding up north at all anymore. But some friends go up just about every weekend the trails are open. They poop in a bag in the toilet. They have water containers they take with them for wash cloth bath, etc. Its more work, but its alot cheaper. Dont have property maintenance. Yes a camper isn't built like a cabin, though you can buy some pretty bad cabins. No yard work to be done before you go play. Campers are usually smaller than cabin, so easier and quicker to clean, but less room.
    Some campground have awesome amenities like lake front, pools, playgrounds for kids, etc.

    Just something to consider. We have talked about buying property, but we always shoot it down. If we want out, its alot easier. Dont have to try to sell property. Campers depreciate but as of right now anyway, they are bringing premium prices.

    When all this comes crashing back to regulate itself, I have a feeling people are going to be broke after they over spent and cant afford what they bought, its going to be a buyers market. Whether its cabins or campers. Just have to have patience.
    I might buy a cabin just to resell the during the next apocalypse......

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    202

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    Picking up an old mine company house fixer upper for $25K in Calumet or Laurium or Mohawk (or whatever) was always a dream of mine. As of the last time I looked (admittedly a couple of years ago) those things are a dime a dozen up there. Might also be a land bank setup where you can get them for nothing (or so I recall deep in the recesses of my brain). I know how to do the remodel work, but doing it all by myself (or me plus my wife) doesn't seem like a great idea. This was for a simplified life relocation, not a second home.

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    close to the edge.
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    Imho I would hold off. Stuff is way overpriced right now and first thing to drop in value and hit the chopping block in a down turn is 2nd homes .
    Other things to think about is now you have 2 places to deal with so pretty much both only get **** done 1/2 *** lawns ,maint ,appliances, your toy maint ,all your old time and money you had to deal with stuff now goes in to maintaining another property .
    Not to mention the commute every week .
    That said it is great to have a place to go and just do what you want when you want not have to go out and ride your sled or atv just because you are there in a rental you can always wait till the weather is better etc .
    Again I would hold off .it is crazy out there and you will not be going to look at a cabin you like . I sold mine with in 4 hrs of listing site unseen for about 30k more than I thought it would go for . My neighbor sold there's also site unseen new owner saw it first time during septic inspection . Only real option now is to pick your town get the most popular realtor who gets the most listings so they can let you know when 1 is hitting the market and have agreement ready to go when it is listed . Sad reality .
    Prob better off finding a lot tossing septic and well in put a camper on it till lumber tanks and build what you want rather than someone else's 30 yrs of 1/2 *** maint.
    And let's not forget some yrs you are the jack pot for snow and tge next yr you are paying to heat your place and paying to rent a cabin where there is snow . But hopefully you had enough guys at your place in the banner yr that you got a bed in there place in the jack pot aria for snow
    Last edited by ezra; 06-05-2021 at 10:51 AM.

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Thumb of Michigan
    Posts
    154

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    Lots of great info and here's my 5 cents (adjusted for the current conditions).

    IMO, I would try to hold out the best you can under the current conditions. I have a place up north. I've gotten 2 solicitations so far in the mail from people looking for someone interested in selling. No way we are....

    Now, on to my suggestions. First off.... look at areas where you and your wife might possibly be interested in having a place. One thing that we wanted was to be close to a good size city, but still far enough away. Our place is 18 miles from Gaylord, Michigan. We have the convenience of a Walmart, Meijers, Lowes, Home Depot, other places when we need things, but the main thing is a hospital. Also if you want to go out for the night to say a movie or bar they are available.

    Once you narrow it down to a few areas, put in a day or two to just go out to them and drive around checking things out. Not saying that a realtor is bad, but stop in somewhere to have say lunch, talk to the people in the area and see if they might know of places for sale. When we was looking, I would get on real estate sites, jot down listings that I was interested in, my wife and I would then make a day trip out of it. We wanted to be around a 3 hour drive one way. We drove around to a bunch of different areas, but wanted to stay close to Gaylord for the reasons I mentioned above. The funny thing is it seemed as if when we headed back downstate our final drive was around a certain lake. We looked at so many places that it got to the point that we just wanted something and be done with it. One day I found a listing in the area and jotted down a couple more to look at. Headed up the next day to meet the realtor. The place wasn't really want we wanted but it was doable and could be really nice once we put some time and $$ into it. So we went though it, spending about 3 hours there. We decided to make an offer, that's when the realtor threw a curve ball, they already had an offer on it, why couldn't they of told us beforehand. Not wanting to get into a bidding war, we decided to not make one. We left and drove around the lake getting ready to head back downstate. There was this house (6 year old build) that looked vacant every time we when though there. I don't know how it happened but on this day the elderly people across the street was out. We stopped and asked about the house. They gave us the owners name and number. We called him and it just happened that he lived on the lake. He came over showed us the house. We fell in love with it as soon as we saw the rest of the house. I fell in love with the garage....LOL We decided right then and there we wanted to buy it. He gave us a price and we accepted. But when the bank had it appraised it came 6k under what he asked. He said that he would accept that and it's ours, been going on 10 years now. We're no on the lake, but I can look right out my big living room window and see it. Best part is we are between 2 roads, one of which is maintained by the county so it's always plowed during the winter, also less property taxes. We made friends with the people across the street and use their waterfront property for our dock and Sparks.

    I guess I should say keep looking, you and your wife will know when you find that perfect place. Just don't jump at getting a place to have one and don't go overboard with the price.
    Last edited by rv245; 06-05-2021 at 04:34 PM.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wetmore, MI
    Posts
    697

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    I wasn't going to get into this thread but changed my mind...all I have to offer is our experience even though it is more than 2 decades old...at that time we lived in central OH...we both fell in love with the U.P. but the 10 or 11 hr drive was somewhat off-putting...so we looked around the upper lower for several days and decided "Screw it, let's just drive the extra 4 hrs"...that was in the later part of the 90s and as they say, the rest is history...have lived here full-time for 20 yrs now...I can't begin to count the number of 1200 mile round trips we did over the 5 yrs before I retired...

    We did rent our place out the first couple of yrs while we got "settled" in as it were...we eventually decided it wasn't worth the extra effort to put all the "good stuff" away every time we left especially if we were only there for a long weekend...that and having to pay a handyman to keep the drive open and roof raked in the winter but that comes with the territory...overall, we'd do it again in a heartbeat...

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    close to the edge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hybrid View Post
    the time between the end of snowmobiling and ice out is the worst time of year imo
    very little to do then rec wise
    could make some maple syrup if u got some trees
    or catch some pan fish if u want to venture out on the melting ice
    every year is different tho
    I dont know imho that is some of the best sxs weather imho . Most of tge forest roads and trails are packed snow and dirt mix zero dust . No one out but you

  36. #36
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    Dec 2009
    Location
    Watertown WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezra View Post
    I dont know imho that is some of the best sxs weather imho . Most of tge forest roads and trails are packed snow and dirt mix zero dust . No one out but you
    Almost all trails and routes in WI are closed at that time.

  37. #37
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Shoreview, MN
    Posts
    737

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    To be honest with air bnb in existence these days its really hard to justify buying a cabin. Before you were confined to resorts or lodges and now you can find a place on almost every lake imagineable. Travel to snow when needed, and if you really love a lake or know it well you can continue going back to that same area if its different than where you ride sleds. Some of you guys are nuts for putting the time and mileage on your vehicles with 6+hr drives every weekend.

  38. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Part Time Yooper
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    Going on +6 years haven't seen any bad and ugly. I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner.

  39. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Out there
    Posts
    5,322

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    Doooooood.

  40. #40
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Valparaiso, Indiana
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    162

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    Quote Originally Posted by 600_RMK_144 View Post
    2) How to go about “seeing” properties when you are 4+ hours away? I assume a good realtor is critical, but again, not sure where to even start with one. We can't take a trip up there each time we think we see something we might like.
    Unfortunately there is No Such Thing as A Good Realtor = Unicorn. Same Category as Car Salesman.

    Don't trust anything they say. You Must Do your own Due Diligence. Realtors have No Accountability, they don't get paid until after the Closing. They will tell you anything to get you to the closing. They don't care who or if Financial lives are ruined. It's a Filthy Unregulated Industry.

    Fact = A large percentage of properties with Cabins, or Houses in the North have vastly been Cobbled together without Permits, Codes, Inspections or Regulation Adherence. You buy one of those and you will be the one paying for all the mistakes, and shortcuts.

    This lends itself to the Wise Buyer putting in a lot of Windshield time, which is necessary to make a smart decision to protect their Financial Well Being.
    Last edited by parker; 06-14-2021 at 11:15 AM.

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