by Mark Bingaman
My youngest daughter graduated from high school recently. When the last of your three munchkins flips the tassel and flings the mortarboard, a dad (maybe even the one writing this now) can become somewhat nostalgic and reflective.
So as our celebratory graduation weekend at the family cottage wound down, I found myself repeating one thought both verbally and mentally: “I sure am glad I bought this property when the kids were little.”
It was the very early 1990’s and our first baby was just a few months old when the idea of buying land for a family cottage initially came to mind. It would make sense to think that because I grew up without a father the concept of being a “family man” and doing family “things” – like searching for good recreational land to buy – might have been a bit foreign to me, but it seems as though the opposite was true.
The fact that I missed out on a ton of special experiences as a child made me even more determined to be the best father I could be. And it seemed that having a special place to always retreat to – a family retreat or recreational area – would be a heck of a good idea. I don’t know exactly where the idea came from, perhaps it just seemed romantic to me at the time, but I do recall realizing that on top of establishing and procuring us a family play spot, the concept of investing in land and buying property for financial appreciation also made plenty of sense.
I’ll admit that the decision and the financial obligation was somewhat difficult at the time. My wife and I were in our middle and late twenties respectively when we first began searching for land to buy. Neither of us made much money, and we had a mortgage and a new baby to worry about, so when we found the perfect investment land for sale, it was something of a stretch to commit to the purchase and sign on the dotted line.
But sign we did, making the choice to invest in recreational property and sacrifice financially in other areas. We drastically cut back on (or completely eliminated) our vacation and entertainment budgets. Rather than family vacations at Disney or weekend getaways to Chicago we spent that same time at our family cottage. We also cut back on things like having two expensive car payments and discovered that we could get by quite nicely with a just a decent family vehicle for my wife and the kids, and a budget used car for me for work.
The truth of the matter is that it wasn’t all that difficult to cut back on expenses and pay for a family retreat instead. Even better, as a few years went by and I became even more financially literate and responsible, the concept of this beautiful land serving as both a spot for family getaways and as a big savings account for our retirement made even more sense and excited me more.
Here was a place where we built memories and bonded with our friends and loved ones. It was also a spot where we were strengthening our financial future and that of our children (and maybe even their children!)
Regardless of how it works out, I know a couple of important things: I’m sitting here in our cottage, typing this article a few days after the high school graduation of my final child. And the entire family gathered here, atop this recreational land, at our family retreat. Soon, we will do it again; gather here to have some fun on Father’s Day weekend while also celebrating the 18th birthday of our youngest.
Yes, yes, yes I am: “I sure am glad I bought this property when the kids were little.”
As you scan through the listings and available property for sale here on LandHub.com, you’ll undoubtedly discover any number of places perfect for building your own family traditions. I hope you do!
Photos Courtesy of The Deer House in Mercer, WI