Lake Mendota pier

Living by the lake is dream for many Wisconsinites and for good reason – it’s relaxing. That’s not just an opinion, either; it’s a fact: “Studies indicate that being in a coastal or marine setting causes a six point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings. This is a greater happiness boost than reported at other nature settings such as farms, mountains, or woods,” says Zachary Slobig, writing in Psychology Today.

 Think a lakefront home is out of your budget? You might be surprised how affordable, with low mortgage rates to help, your dream of a stress-free life may be.

 Lake home buying, however, does have its share of special considerations, and it’s important to consider these to make the best choice when you purchase. Here are just a few things to consider before making a purchase.

Consider the location of the lakefront property. What’s your purpose for buying the property? 

If it is intended to be your primary home, look at its distance from work, schools, medical clinics, and standard amenities like grocery stores and post offices. Even with rural living, you still want to have reasonable access to these services, lest the tasks of everyday life make your remote location more of a chore than a pleasure.

 Proximity is also important even if the property is intended to be your vacation home. Most experts recommend that a vacation home should be one to two hours away from your primary home, so that your use of the vacation home isn’t discourage by an onerous drive.

How big is the property? What are the things you can do there? 

 A good lake home should have space enough to accommodate not only your family, but also the friends and relatives that will no doubt visit. Ideally, the property should be big enough to provide comfort to your guests, and also offer enough activities to occupy them.

 Aside from water sports on the lake such as fishing, swimming, or jet-skiing, find out if there are alternative activities in the area such as hiking and biking, bird-watching, or horseback riding. If the home you’re considering is located in a development, ask about amenities like swimming pools, a clubhouse, or a gym.

Conduct a thorough inspection of the property, especially if it wasn't pre-inspected. 

One of the most critical aspects of shopping for and purchasing lake-front property is choosing the right Realtor to assist you. Since this purchase is vastly different from buying any other type of home, there is no substitute for experience. Ensure the agent you hire has lots of experience in the lakefront property market.

When you get to the property, find out all you can about the lake and the lakeshore. What is the lake like? Is it big enough for all of the water sports you are partial to? How about the shoreline? Is it sandy or mucky? Can you imagine yourself and your family spending time there? Find out what the lake bottom is like—is the slope gradual or a steep drop-off? Does it have a rocky bottom or a sandy bottom? Does the dock or boathouse require inspections?

Check with your real estate agent for hazard disclosures and flood histories on any waterfront property in which you are interested.

In short, lakeside living can be a dream come true, but a real estate purchase is no time to start daydreaming. Perform your due-diligence, cover all of the bases, and find out all you can about the property before purchasing it. That way your lakeside life can truly be one of serenity and happiness.  

Posted by Jolenta Averill on


Email Send a link to post via Email

Jolenta you make some great point here when looking for a lake home in your market. It is so important for buyers to employ a experienced Realtor like yourself when buying a lake home to protect their interests.

Posted by Calgary Realtor Crystal Tost on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 at 8:11pm

I sell on Lake Travis, west of Austin, and one thing I want people to do is visit a property they like on a busy weekend. The need to check things like the noise level and whether or not the dock will be affected by wakes from large boats.

Posted by Lake Travis Waterfront on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at 12:09pm

What a beautiful sunset! Lake front living is the life!

Posted by Cal Carter on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 3:36pm

I think the perfect lakehouse setting is one where you can live in peace and quiet away from the noise and pollution of the big cities, and at the same time have easy access to all the amenities of modern living.

Posted by Alex Aguilar on Sunday, October 9th, 2011 at 5:06pm

You make some excellent points. Too many people look on the outside and because it looks good from a distance, they don't take the time to venture beyond that.

Posted by Divorce Lawyer on Sunday, October 16th, 2011 at 11:47pm

In Orlando, we have nice areas with lakefront homes close to the city but far enough from the craziness..

Posted by Orlando | Vizcaya homes for sale on Monday, December 12th, 2011 at 12:17pm

I could sit on the dock and watch that sun every day for the rest of my life it is so peaceful

Posted by Seattle Homes on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 9:47am

Hi Jolenta, I would like to add that I think with any Lakeview properties an important thing to consider is the location of the sunset.

Either way, great site, and visit and comment on my Mississauga condo Blog when you get a chance -


Posted by Eric on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 5:52pm

Great article. Lakefront homes are in high demand and home buyers should always consider needs and location before wants.

Posted by Knoxville Luxury Waterfront Homes on Thursday, March 28th, 2013 at 12:07pm

I'm glad you mention being able to accommodate family and friends at the home! It's very true that having a lakefront property will encourage people to visit you often. It's smart to look for a home that will have plenty of space for you, but also enough space to host others comfortably.

Posted by Georgia B on Thursday, January 5th, 2017 at 11:42am

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.