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Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

New Orleans...
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Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Greetings! We live in New Orleans and are thinking about buying property in Minnesota as a summer getaway. We've heard great things about both the Twin Cities area as well as the many lakes in the state but have no clue about where to look. We definitely want a LAKE HOUSE within, say, 1-2 hours of the Twin Cities but otherwise we have no firm requirements.

We're planning a trip to the area next week and would love a couple of suggestions.

Where should we stay? While we want to visit the Twin Cities a bit, this trip would be more about visiting the lake areas. I'm assuming maybe north Minneapolis?

Which lakes do the locals recommend? Again, commute time isn't important to us as we won't be driving into MSP daily.

I know this may seem very vague but we're just starting our research.

Thanks much!!!

MN
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1. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

There are a lot of lakes (not as well known) south of the cities as well, but still within 1-2 hours as you requested in the small towns. What kinds of ammenities or things do you want or need to have in the area you plan to move to? Also, is price a consideration? There are some areas that are definately way more expensive than others.

Good luck with your search. :)

Saint Paul...
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2. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Price is definitely the first consideration and different areas will have different price points that are driven by location but also the lake itself. I would also suggest checking the MN DNR website to look at lake size, water quality, fish species, etc. It's a great resource for anyone researching lake property. If you Google "MN DNR Lake Finder " you should get the site right away. I would also strongly urge you to use an attorney when making your purchase ( and no, I am not a lawyer). There can be many covenants, easements, and restrictions on lake property that it's worth having an attorney review any purchase to ensure you aren't burned later.

Also be aware that MN (and WI) place a lot of emphasis on protecting lake shore and therefore never assume you can re-build, update, or replace any existing structure nor should you assume if you find a vacant lot that you can build a home on it.

Plug time! Check out the Chisago County area - about 30-40 minutes NE of MSP. My wife live in St. Paul and own a lake cabin on the Chisago Lakes area and it's a tremendous region of the state. The convenience of being in town with a small town, rural atmoshpere. Some great lakes and a wonderful place to spend the summer!!

That being said summers on a lake in MN & NW WI is a move you will never regret.

Saint Paul...
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3. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Lake finder link: www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html

New Orleans...
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4. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Thanks so much for the responses! It helps a lot.

While money isn't the overriding concern, obviously it will play a part. I'm guessing a mid-range lake house would be fine....that's probably $400,000ish? Or am I way off? We're looking for 2 bedroom/2 bath or slightly larger to accommodate the friends from Louisiana who will no doubt want to visit us during our summer treks! :-)

Saint Paul...
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5. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

If you're willing to spend $400K you will be able to find something you like! I can't speak for costs outside of the Chisago area but that would get a very nice place on Green, Chisago, Center, or Lindstrom lakes.

I would expand your search into NW Wisconsin as well. The lakes in the Spooner-Hayward area are very nice.

Ely, Minnesota
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6. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Have you looked into the Brainerd Lakes area at all? I know this is a bit farther from MSP, but it is a great area.

New Orleans...
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7. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

We're flying up to Minnesota this weekend. On Tuesday, we'll check out the Twin Cities. Wednesday, we'll try to visit the lakes NORTH of the city (whatever we can fit into one day!) and then Thursday I'd like to visit Lake Pepin, which was recommended by a realtor friend.

Keep the suggestions coming!

What about the area near St. Cloud? From a map, it seems like many lakes are in this area.

Ely, Minnesota
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8. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

You could also find some good lake area up towards Duluth on I35. There are so many great places for lakes in Minnesota, now you just need to figure out what part you want!!

Minnesota
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9. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Hi. I live between the Twin Cities and St Cloud, about an hour from the Twin Cities. There are some lakes around here that are very nice. I live on one of the lakes in Sherburne County, and it's way fun (Big Lake Minnesota area). However, in Sherburne County, the lakes tend to have more of an "suburbs" feel than an "up north" feel. One you might want to consider is Long Lake in Sherburne County (there are several Long Lakes, but the one you want is near Clearwater). Beautiful little lake, and still with the "up north" feel you might want. It's only 10 minutes from St Cloud, and about 1 1/4 hours from the airport in Minneapolis. You could do fairly well for 400K there. My brother in law lives on that lake, and I know it well. Love it. It was just a bit further than I personally wanted to be from the Twin Cities.

Another area to consider is Annandale (Wright county). There are some very nice lakes there. However, it tends to be a bit on the more expensive side. Still worth a look.

My favorite website to puruse (the one we used when moving back to Minnesota from Californa 18 months ago) is edinarealty.com. It allows you to narrow your search by map, and then for waterfront. Be aware if you see two houses that look similar and are very differently priced it's probably because of the lake itself. Lake quality varies significantly. You want one that is MOSTLY over 15 feet deep (milfoil is a problem in many Minnesota lakes, and negatively impacts those that are 15 feet in depth or less...even if a lake doesn't have milfoil today, assume that it will arrive someday...it's virtually inevitable on lakes within 1-2 hours of the twin cities), one that has good secchi disc clarity (5-6 feet or more), one where swimming is "fully supported" and one that doesn't go "green" in the summer (lakes south of the metro tend to have this problem!). This is the type of information you get from the lake finder on the DNR website.

Hope this helps!

Everett, Washington
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10. Re: Thinking about Minnesota as a second home

Here is a link to the DNR site that Roseandandy mentioned.

www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html

A few more cautions to add ot the list when looking for the perfect lake property for you....(in no particular order)

1. Be aware that in many parts of Minnesota lakes, especially shallow ones, have tended to disappear over time as cattails and such invade and "boggify" ( for lack of a better name) the water. Eventually turning them into marsh land. As annual precipitation has changed over the past few decades many marginally deep enough lakes have sucumbed to this has their water levels dropped.

2. Look for deeper lakes with at least one steep shoreline and/or one area of rapid drop off from shore. Deeper holes also means better fish survival over winter. There is a nice cluster of lakes north of Willmar (just about at the 2 hr limit) with fairly hilly terrain around them. The lakes south of Willmar though are flat, get a lot of ag run off and are prone to turning marshy.

3. Lakes can either be pass thru flowage or spring fed. Check out inlet and outlet streams. Some lakes have their water level controlled by dams or other means. Also, if stream fed check the land usage upstream for pollution or fertilizer sources which could promote algae blooms. BTW...Lake Peppin is actually the Mississippi river.

4. Depending on your goals consider the recreational use of the lake and the "traffic". Not just in summer too but when frozen over in the winter. Speed boats, jet skis, snowmobiles and even cars (if ice gets thick enough) might reduce the privacy and tranquility. Even if not there in the winter check out how prone the property is to ice blowing on to shore at ice-out time...on larger lakes this can cause considerable damage to structures right at the water edge.

5. Many lakeshore properties with older septic systems are being forced into sewer systems. I'm not sure if this is one of those things that has to be disclosed in advance...or when it becomes disclosable. A seller may have a hunch that in 2-3 years they "might" be forced to spend several thousand dollars to hook up but not know this for sure so not mention it.

6. As mentioned in the other post and alluded to in #5....do not assume anything. Zip, nada, nothing. Make absolutely certain that anything you intend to do with the property is allowed. Even so there are many cases where pople have been given building permits, etc....only to have some other governing body later change the rules. Lake property is probably the most nasty of all to deal with regulatory wise. On an invesment of $400K enlisting a good real estate attorney with experience in lake property would be cheap insurance.