Welcome to our little house on the lake! Actually, it’s a mobile home. A double-wide. But it’s our home! It’s been such an adventure getting to this point in life that I have to share it with you! I’m hoping that by tracking all of our progress on our new home that someday we can look back at all the work we’ve done with a sigh of relief and say, “We did it!” In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of work to do around here.
But first, the story of how we ended up here, at our quaint little double-wide on the lake:Here is the short version if you don’t want the painful details: My in-laws wanted to sell their lake cabin. We wanted to buy it. Sold!
And now for those that are still reading, the long version: My in-laws have owned this lake property for over 20 years. My husband, along with his parents and sister, spent every summer of his childhood living at “the cabin”, which is a 90’s double-wide manufactured home they had placed on the property. Needless to say, they have many great memories here. And so do I. Matt’s family was living at “the cabin” when my family moved back here in August of 1999. One of my first memories of Minnesota was when his family invited my family over for lunch after church. A couple years after meeting Matt for the first time, we started dating, so I spent a lot of time here. (Don’t worry I’m not going to tell that story). Just know that “the cabin” was not a new place to me either.
Fast forward several years. Matt and I are married. Matt’s sister is done with college and well on her way to getting married. My in-laws list the cabin with a realtor. And it doesn’t sell. And it doesn’t sell. And it doesn’t sell. Apparently the lake property market took a crap. And so it sat unused for several years.
Which brings us to 2014. Matt and I were (mostly) happily living in town in a 9 year old home that he bought new shortly before we got married. It wasn’t huge or fancy, but it was nice. It had our personal touches everywhere as we did a lot of work to it to customize it; the paint colors, tiled backsplash, the granite patio and landscaping, the deck, the newly finished basement, every tree and every flower was placed by us. On top of that, it was sentimental because of the living we’d done there. It was our first home together and the home we brought our kids home from the hospital to after they were born. It was where they learned to walk and talk. Despite these sentimentals, we knew that we didn’t want to live in town for the long term. For years we’ve thrown around the idea of some day moving to the country and having what we called a “hobby farm.” But the thing that held us back from pulling the trigger on it was the fact that we had tried selling our house two times prior with no luck. In fact, after paying the realtor fees on the offers we did receive, we would end up in the red on our house, and we refused to have a short sale. So we were just going to be content in town until the housing market turned around, or until we were desperate to get out.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for either. In January, the conversation started between my father-in-law and Matt that they really wanted to sell the lake property. And Matt brought the idea to me that maybe we wanted to consider buying it from his parents. So we tossed the idea around for several weeks. I knew there were some major things I had to “get real” with myself about as far as the move. I had to ask myself some hard questions: Will I be okay giving up a basically new house with nothing wrong with it for a 90’s double-wide that is outdated, has no A/C, no garage, and thousands of dollars in repairs that need to be done in the short term future? In the end, I decided that the location was key. We couldn’t pass up the chance to have the flexibility of buying lake property from my in-laws and having our kids grow up in such an awesome environment. I kept thinking of all the fun memories we’ll get to build because of it; fishing, boating, ice skating. And to be able to have privacy! So we got the ball rolling. We were going to buy it.
One of the many perks of buying from the in-laws was the fact we were able to start working on the house before any papers were signed. We took down the window treatments, patched holes, wiped the walls, and started painting. No offense to anyone who loves 90’s decor, but it wasn’t my first choice. Or my second. But it’s what we had to work with. Luckily I enjoy a little DIY-ing. I told Matt before we decided to buy the house that he needed to give me free reign to change every wall, light, and surface in the house at some point to make it my own. I don’t know that he understood why but he did agree. So as soon as the weather cooperated we started painting. E wanted a John Deere green room. We settled for a soft green. A wanted pink. Our room is the same blue as our house in town. For the living room and kitchen, we went with a neutral cream color. Luckily the patterned wall board covered easily with the paint and stuck.
In the meantime, Matt bought a domain name and started putting a web page together to sell our home in town for sale by owner. The website was ready by the end of March and an ad in the paper listed. The events of selling our house in town is worthy of its own post, but we basically had an official contract signed within a week of listing it for sale by owner, and we ended up getting more money than we were asking. This was another huge sign to me that we were doing the right thing.
After returning from a vacation in California in April, we started the move. Our first night at the lake was April 18th, or Good Friday. We slowly moved our things from our Maywood home to the lake home. And I completely underestimated how much work moving would be. It was awful.
After living at the lake for a month, we signed the contract for deed papers on May 16th and made it official. My in-laws are pretty great. They had the property lines moved (they own the land around our lot) so we’d have more lake shore and more land to build a house someday. We have 1.1 acres on the lake! See how happy we are?
Our closing date on the town house followed a few weeks later on May 30th. What a huge burden lifted! Now we can finally focus on moving on and getting done what we need at the lake. Which is a huge list. Our summer projects include:
Building a garage
Getting an office space for Matt (he works from home)
New roof, siding, windows, and skirting
Replace rotting deck rails (done!)
I’ve pretty much given up on getting the indoor updating done until winter. Which is fine. The painting I’ve done helps. And we also tore out the upper half of a built in hutch that wasn’t doing it for me. It visually opened up the space so much! I eventually want to replace all the light fixtures, the cabinet hardware, the linoleum floors, as well as paint the cabinets. But summer is so short here in Minnesota that the outdoor projects are taking the priority now.
I don’t regret the move one bit. I think I say at least once a day, “I love it here.” The kids haven’t once asked to go back “home” to the house on town. They’re loving it just as much. And the concerns I had about living in a “manufactured home” aren’t as concerning as I thought. I like to joke that we live in a trailer, although I don’t think Matt thinks it’s very funny. It’s just easier to say trailer than manufactured home. And we are slowly making our little house on the lake feel more like home. It’s gonna be an adventure.
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