When Looking At Land, Make It A Family Affair
September 24, 2010
A friend of mine likes to say that people need a place where they can go to "knock it in neutral" for a while. He's right, I think: All of us dream about a special spot where we can recharge our batteries, enjoy the outdoors and get away from the relentless pace of our everyday lives.
Five years ago, I finally decided that I wanted to find that special spot. I had convinced myself that I needed to buy some land, but I had no idea how to approach my wife with the idea. I'm not sure how it is in your family, but in mine, a hunting club membership might be my decision, but a land purchase is definitely a family decision. So one day, out of the blue, I just blurted it out: "Honey (I always start out this way when I want something), would you ever want to buy a little place somewhere out in the woods, with a cabin and maybe even a lake?" She didn't even think about it. "No," she snapped. "I can't even keep this house clean. Why would I want another one? And you . . . you can't even keep the grass cut at home. How are you going to find time to keep up another place?"
Months passed. Then one day, I came home talking about a little place I had found.
I caught her at a weak moment, and we headed out to see it. It was a beautiful location. The cabin was more like a shack than a lodge, but it did have indoor plumbing, which was definitely a plus in my wife's book. We were living in a congested suburb at the time, and after fighting traffic all week, the chirping of birds sounded a lot more soothing than the honking of horns.
Even so, she visited that property with the idea that we were buying a place for me to hunt and fish. At first, I don't believe she ever thought about it as a family retreat, or a place where she would enjoy spending time. It's not that she dislikes the outdoors. She loves it, as long as she has a lounge chair, a beach towel, a small cooler by her side, and a body of water where she can wade when it gets too hot. A condo on the beach would have been perfect for her, but you can't hunt from the balcony of a condo.
When I was considering this property, I thought the cabin is what would really sell my wife on the concept. But she viewed the cabin simply as more work. When we walked to the lake, I saw the road as just a way to get to the lake; she looked at it and said, "Oh, this is beautiful!" The gazebo didn't matter to me at all, but for my wife, it was an idyllic place where she could drink her coffee and read the newspaper. I learned that while we may appreciate different aspects of a property, it was possible to find one place that had something for everyone in the family.
We wound up buying that place, and my wife loves it as much as I do. She doesn't hunt or fish, but she gets just as excited as any of us when my son comes back with a catfish, a deer, a rabbit or a squirrel. She goes there to bask in the sun, take photographs, read and relax.
For us, owning land was a family decision with family benefits. It is our place to "knock it in neutral." If you're a sportsman considering a land purchase, be sure to get the whole family involved. You'll be glad you did.
In next month's column, we'll discuss how you can get started along the road to land ownership.
ABOUT THE AUTHORDon Webb is the author of "Maximizing The Land Ownership Experience" and president of Greenwood Land Company, which provides land acquisition and consulting services. Contact him at (706) 575-4178 or go online to www.greenwoodproject.com.