Here's a fun perk of having a blog and podcast: when I want to ask lots of people for advice I have a way to do that! The title of the post says it all. We are seriously considering buying a second home in the Midwest. We are in the early stages of researching where that might be and I would love input from my readers and listeners who live in the Midwest or have spent enough time there to give advice.
But first let me give you some more context: for a few years Chris and I have talked about eventually purchasing property or a home somewhere in the northern U.S., specifically the Midwest or Pacific Northwest. The main motivation is climate change. We live in the desert southwest where the summers are getting hotter, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and wildfires are more frequent. For the first time the U.S. has announced a shortage of water on the Colorado River, which is where Arizona gets its water. A lot of our power is hydro-electric and if lake levels keep falling we could have summers of rolling black outs as early as next summer. Although we have solar panels on our house they do not translate directly into the power at our house so we would still be affected by black outs.
We have a real worry that living here will become so unpleasant that we will not want to stay. If that were to happen we would not be the only ones wanting to move and it might be harder to find affordable property in desirable areas that are well-adapted for climate change. At the same time we might not have very much value in our house if many people are trying to leave the Phoenix area. We've decided we need to plan for that grim scenario now, even as it's scary to think about. Making a plan that builds climate resiliency into our family's future helps to lessen the feelings of despair.
What I also want to acknowledge is the incredible privilege that we can even consider something like purchasing a second home to personally adapt to climate change. Climate change is and will disproportionately affect poor people and that is not right. When areas run out of water, become so hot they are inhabitable for portions of the year, or are devastated by wildfire we must take care of people that do not have the means to leave. This is a fact we must all consider as we make choices and vote in elections.
What we're considering
Maps of current and predicted weather patterns show that many areas of the Midwest are ideally situated to be resilient in the face of a hotter, drier climate. The Midwest also has more affordable real estate than areas we might consider in the Pacific Northwest. Plus Chris is from Michigan (did you know that?) and has a fondness for that state in particular. Our thought is that we would purchase a home and either find a long-term tenant or do short term vacation rentals through Airbnb or similar. We plan to stay in Arizona for the foreseeable future but would love to have the reassurance of owning a property in a place that is not so hot and dry. We also like the idea of having a property that we could rent out and make use of ourselves for family vacations. The best case scenario is that in our lifetime climate change does not force us to move from Arizona and we could enjoy having a vacation home just for fun and as a passive income stream. I truly hope for that scenario!
So far the general areas we are considering are southern Michigan, perhaps around Madison, Wisconsin, and maybe around Minneapolis, Minnesota. But we are open! In short we hope to identify an area that we love and that would attract people to want to rent our home but also where we can afford to buy a nice home for about $320,000 or less.
On our list of "wants" for where we would purchase a second home:
+ the ability to buy a 3+ bedroom, 2+ bathroom home in good condition for about $320,000 or less
+ nearby beautiful natural areas, especially lakes and forests since we have so few here!
+ a good offering of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars
+ a nearby downtown area with shops and local businesses
+ cultural attractions like festivals, museums, theaters, etc.
+ attractions for visitors during the winter months, if possible, so that if we do Airbnb our house wouldn't sit empty for months on end
+ the ability to fly directly to a nearby airport (less than two hours away) from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport or Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport (which flies Allegiant airlines)
Of course we might not get everything on our list but that's what we're starting with.
We'd love your input!
If you have recommendations for places or criteria that we should consider as we explore Midwest properties I would so appreciate hearing from you. You can get in touch with me by commenting on this blog post or by sending me an email at kelseyk(dot)wharton(at)gmail(dot)com. We might even be planning a spring break trip to scout out some towns or cities.
Thank you so much!