To Buy a Cabin or Not (CO or WY)

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by tmz1m, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. tmz1m

    tmz1m Been here awhile

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    There’s a lot of experience on this forum so I thought I’d raise this here. I’ve been thinking about buying a cabin for several years and am in a position where I can financially do it if it makes sense.

    About me: 35, 5 kids ranging in age from 1-11, and live in North Denver suburbs. Have a pretty demanding job that requires weekend work often but can be done remotely if I have internet. Two dogs.

    I feel like the window to buy and enjoy a cabin as a family is before the kids get into the 16+ category and so my window is closing (my kids are mostly on the upper end of that range I posted). True?

    For people who have bought a cabin in the about 3-hour range of Denver (I’ve considered Fairplay/Alma, Red Feather and Livermore, and into Wyoming) — would you do it again? Did you find yourself really feeling like you “had” to use it? That’s my biggest concern. We don’t get out of Denver that often now but I think it’s because bringing enough stuff for 7 people and finding lodging that takes two large dogs is a struggle. If we had our own place where we could just load up clothes and food, I think we would take more trips.

    Interests include dirt bikes, ATV, and I would love to snowmobile. No interest in skiing and I’d like to avoid I-70.

    Thoughts from the collective? Also considering buying a second hand RV to accomplish some of the same purposes but I think a cabin makes more sense.
    #1
  2. Gargantuan

    Gargantuan Been here awhile

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    I say do it man that sounds awesome
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  3. Boricua

    Boricua Been here awhile

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    Sounds awesome. A couple of things you should think about. Are your kids into organized sports? If they are, that will commit the family for the season of whatever sport they chose. Kids usually start claiming independence before 16. Socializing with their friends start becoming really important in middle school. Specially for girls. Owning a vacation property means maintaining it. Unless you can afford to pay someone else to do it for you many cabin outings will be to work on it. Are you planning to rent it out to help cover maintenance and taxes? Are you buying cash or financing? If you do cash you have to keep in mind that the return on investment is not better than other investments. Any financial advisor will tell you that a vacation home is not an investment. Its an expense. Even in the best of circumstances you are locking yourself into a non liquid asset. However if use it a lot then money does not matter much. I almost bought a vacation property a long time ago. My rationale was very simple. How many nights I will spend there per year in a period of 10 years divided by the cost, including depreciation during that period. With the per night rate I could afford to vacation at a ritz carlton. If you have family near by, a brother, or someone that share your interest you can share the cost and the maintenance work and increase the utilization of the property.

    If it was me I would think about all these things. Except for mountain properties in the tourist corridor there are a lot of for sale signs in the mountains. I believe there's a good reason for it. What looks like a great idea at first rarely turns out as expected. For me I enjoy going to different places. CO, UT, NM I spend time moving around and every time I find a nice place to rent. Since lately its just me and my wife we are switching to b&b and other properties where the work is done by others.

    Sent from my XT1635-01 using Tapatalk
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  4. papa_j

    papa_j Long timer

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  5. threewinmag

    threewinmag Happily Lost

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    The things I considered (and did):

    If you buy, fully furnish including the toys. If you're going to use it more than a few times a year, then you want it to be "hassle free." Get an itch on Thursday night and by the time school's out on Friday, you're on the road. In other words, have a place to go without massive amounts of planning and packing.

    Consider buying the right size for retirement. After all the kids are gone (you've got a while, pal), you and missus just might want to relocate and be done. Not bad having something paid off for retirement years.

    Consider access to internet. The best places to have a cabin are those that don't always get cell service and the speeds and prices of satellite internet can be frustrating and expensive, depending on what you use the internet for.

    Consider Park, Fremont, Chaffee, or Teller counties. They avoid 70 after you leave the city and are still affordable. They are in the mountains, have access to cities with services, and are great for hunting, fishing, bikes, motorcycles, ATV's, and camping. The dark skies are great at night for spectacular stars.

    Watch for POA/HOA rules, regulations, dues, etc. and property taxes, to make sure you spend what you want to each year. They may also have restrictions on what you can do on your own land.

    Good luck and have fun.
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  6. MartiniUp

    MartiniUp Long timer

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    For us renting a cabin has been the best situation. We do a lot of homework and on each trip we scout out other areas. We find that too many trips to the same area gets stale. Owning has never ending $$$costs that get burdensome when you can't make a trip. I will offer a money back guarantee that as kids become teenagers their social wants create a problem planning vacations. No family is immune! I recommend renting.
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  7. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

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  8. clawdog60

    clawdog60 Long timer

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    sounds like you will get shot at around fairplay.
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  9. ronhr

    ronhr Retired in Place at Work (they like me more now)

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    See avatar (from my cabin in Conifer). I considered all the options much like you and ended up in Conifer. Admittedly my kid did not live at home, but college.

    If you ski every weekend, then Fairplay can be good as you can drop into Breckenridge. However, one of my friends whose family had a cabin in Fairplay said that the first few years you are up there all the time and then it exponentially falls off.

    I did not originally intend our cabin to be our retirement home, but it is 37 miles from downtown Denver and we now plan to sell our house in Highlands Ranch and "retire" there as soon as I can convince my wife to quit her job! So I agree with that advice. The bad part is is it 6 miles from the grocery and hardware store and civilization. The good part is it is 6 miles from the grocery and hardware store and civilization in Aspen Park.

    We go up most weekends. I go up almost every weekend, with or without her.

    It is a great jumping off point for motorcycle riding and hiking as you are 45 minutes into the mountains when you start.

    That's Mt. Evans, we see Pike's Peak from the other side of the property.

    If you pick a good spot, you don't see that many houses.

    With your kid's ages, it allows you to come down for sporting/school events if you have to do so. Now admittedly, some people who have their kids in the travel whatever sports will move down the hill as they call it in order to ease the travel.

    You can move to Conifer as I already have my place and if you drive prices up that is ok by me.

    Let me know if you want to discuss more.
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  10. Oldwin1

    Oldwin1 Long timer

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    My in-laws have one they bought when my wife was pretty young. I think 10 or less. It is up in Riverside. My mother in law would have everything packed and ready to go on friday night and they would spend the weekend up there as often as possible. My wife has very fond memories of it as a child. I think it is one of the only things her brother remembers as positive as a child. He pretty much hated everything though. We still use it regularly and her parents use it almost weekly since they are retired. It is only a one room place but is set up nicely and we have crammed 8 people in for the night. It is easily accessed and reasonably easy to winterize. Having a bath room you can winterize is usually important to wives and children.

    ron
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  11. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

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    If you have to get away on weekends to get away from your life, you need to reconsider your life...
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  12. tmz1m

    tmz1m Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all of the responses, you've given me a lot to think about. To answer a few of the things posed, I have considered the sports and friends piece of it. My kids play rec league soccer but none of them are good/dedicated enough to want to do club teams, etc. and if we quit the rec league I doubt they'd notice. The point about wanting to be with friends more even earlier than 16 is a good one and I'm just sort of guessing at what they'll be like in a few years, but obviously I have no idea.

    I do agree with the point re tying up a lot of money in an illiquid asset and it's something I've thought a lot about. I've been thinking about the $150-200K price point with 1/2 down, but I might rethink that a bit if I move forward and start even smaller with a sub-$100K place (Oldwin's point re one room resonated with me). As I mentioned previously I'm also considering an RV so we can go lots of different places a bit more easily than just loading up the car, but there's definitely an appeal to having a dedicated place in the mountains to go.

    I enjoy hearing everyone's perspective, so thank you.
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  13. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Seven people and two dogs - especially with that age spread - in a one room place is a LOT. Consider that your kids may be more into going up to the cabin if they can bring a friend, so your seven may turn into ten ;)
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  14. tmz1m

    tmz1m Been here awhile

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    Haha, good point.
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  15. Gargantuan

    Gargantuan Been here awhile

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    lol
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  16. Hicountryrider

    Hicountryrider Been here awhile

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    We did just the opposite - Lived Near Fairplay/Alma and bought a townhome down here. Jobs eventually required us to be in Denver area but we kept our house in the mountains and go up every weekend in the summer and every other in winter. I work 4-10's and my wife works from home on Friday so Thursday evening - Monday morning makes for a nice getaway all summer. For me if I had to pack up an RV every weekend and maintain and store it somewhere I wouldn't end up going very often. With a home or cabin everything is there and you just bring some food when you go. I don't even ride MC's much anymore in Denver - just keep the bikes up there and no traffic to deal with. Just have to find someplace you like to go all the time. We have been in Fairplay/Alma area for 13 years and there is still stuff we haven't done plus its not that far to BV, Salida, Breck, Frisco and even Leadville via Weston isn't too far.
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  17. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    We are all different. I have briefly considered a cabin a few times over the years. At first it looks nice. But then I think how hard it is to maintain the one house I live in. And I can't imagine wanting to maintain another one in a severe environment several hours away and probably no hardware store nearby.

    My solution to the issue is to have a very nice house and a big yard and a pool. And then travel lots of different places and rely on rentals.

    We moved to Minnesota two years ago for family reasons. We ended up with a great house on a lake in a close-in suburb. It is working out well.

    But I have friends who feel just the opposite.
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  18. _CJ

    _CJ Retrogrouch

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    If I were in your shoes, a travel trailer of some sort would be the first choice. Take it wherever you want, room for the whole family, don't need to load in and load out at your destination. Gives you the option of rough camping in remote locations, or staying at a campsite with hookups, showers, etc.

    My experience with the cabin thing was buying land with the intent of building something, we kept a travel trailer on the land to use until we built something more permanent, but then the county (Park) changed the zoning laws, and our plans went out the window with them, so we sold the land. Never really felt like we "had to" go there, we just enjoyed it as the escape that it was. If we ever do the cabin thing again, it'll be buying something that's already built, and something that was built under permit with the city/county so that they can't suddenly declare it illegal. Beyond that, being within five miles or so of a small town with some sort of grocery store would be mandatory. Our property was fifteen miles from the nearest paved road, and probably a good hour from the nearest market. Made it a real pain in the rear if there was anything we forgot to bring with us.

    Recently, we rented a cabin via airbnb, and it was nice, but expensive. About three years worth of property tax on the old place. Not sure how much of that I want to being doing going forward. Probably makes more sense for people with kids.


    .
    #18
  19. tmz1m

    tmz1m Been here awhile

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    I feel like the moral of these stories is that there isn't a perfect solution to anything and that life is a series of tradeoffs (as with most things).

    I did think about the raw land thing as well, but decided I would never get around to building a cabin and so it probably wouldn't be a great solution. And the w/in a few miles of a town is a point well taken.
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  20. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    For me If I had the money I would get a Cabin/Condo in a place like Summit, Vail, Steamboat etc. as I could use it (I'm an avid skier) but also have it rented out enough to keep my costs lower or even a potential positive income stream.

    Part of the beauty of being out here in the west is there are so many cool places to explore and visit. As someone else said going to the same place can get stale. Having something like a Travel Trailer, RV etc. is great because it's like a cabin on wheels that you can take anywhere. If you want to have a dedicated place another option is to buy a lot that you could park the RV on and have a shed with your bikes/quads that you go to most weekends but could also hook up the trailer and go to Moab or somewhere when the weather in the mountains isn't cooperating.

    The one thing that a lot of people are overlooking is something that is not as easy to measure financially. A lot of people I knew growing up had "Camps" on lakes out in the boonies and lots of family memories were made at these camps on Holiday weekends in the Summer. Lots of these "Camps" get handed down from generation to generation. The cabin might not pay out financially for you in the long run but it could be a family legacy that your potential grandchildren could use some day.
    #20