“I wish we could live in our lake home full-time.” Generally, this statement is followed by “That’s what I plan to do when I retire.” That’s changing. Remote working options have made full-time lake living before retirement a reality for many families.

At the end of the 2020 summer, waterfront property sales in the Brainerd Lakes Area showed a $130 million increase over the sales during the same time period in 2019. That’s an unprecedented increase of 25% in waterfront sales. If you think those sales were made from million-dollar lake homes, here’s another surprise: The median sales price for that 2020 period was $235,000—only $20,000 more than the year before.

The COVID-19 pandemic has moved many employees into a remote work situation they never expected to have. It has opened up new possibilities for families and couples who have dreamed of living in “lake country,” but were tied to a job in an urban area.

Who Is Working Remotely from the Brainerd Lakes Area?

You might assume those who migrated north to lake country work in the tech industry, where everything is done online. Surprisingly, that’s not the case for everyone. A good example is a commercial pilot who relocated to the Brainerd Lakes Area from the Twin Cities.

Obviously, a pilot can’t perform his work online; he needs to be in the cockpit. But this pilot realized a few years ago that he didn’t need to live in the Twin Cities for his job. He only needed to be located close to an airport with a connecting flight to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. It was a big revelation. The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport’s daily flights to MSP in the Twin Cities serve his needs. He flies in and out as needed from their new location in the North Country.

Another couple has a different situation. The husband had retired, but his wife is still working. Once they realized she could do her work remotely, they immediately sold their home in the suburbs. Now she works from their home on Pelican Lake during the summer and from their home in Texas during the winter. If she needs to make a physical appearance for work, she can hop on a flight and be there in an hour or two. Meanwhile, her husband enjoys his retirement doing his favorite leisure activities.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Is Ideal for Working Remotely

Highspeed internet access is critical for anyone wanting to work remotely. Spectrum and CTC both provide highspeed internet to both residential and commercial customers in the Lakes Area. If you need new tech equipment or computer support, you have multiple options, including familiar names like Best Buy and Costco.

Many people who do the majority of their work remotely still need to be available for some in-person meetings and events. For these remote workers, transportation to the Twin Cities or other metropolitan areas are a necessity. The Twin Cities are an easy two- or three-hour drive by freeway, but there is also daily shuttle service that offers as many as 10 different trip times each day. For a quicker trip, the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport provides multiple options. For commercial flights, you seldom need to wait in line. It’s a quick check-in and great onsite amenities.

Why Working Families Relocate to the Brainerd Area

As you can see, working remotely from the Brainerd area can—and is—being done. The question remains why move? Every family is different.

Fun on the Water, the Trails and the Green

The many lakes are a huge attraction. Summer or winter, water or ice, the lakes provide recreational activities all year long. Fishing doesn’t stop when the lakes freeze over. Cozy ice houses pop up in little communities on most local lakes. In the summer, you might hear the sound of jet skis on the lake; in the winter, it will be snowmobiles or the quiet swish of cross-country skis.

If you’re more of a land lover, trails running through our natural greenery abound. You’ll find plenty of friends willing to join you on a bicycle journey, a leisurely walk, or a practice run for the next 5K or half-marathon. If you prefer a more leisurely pastime, you might enjoy a few holes on one of the area’s golf courses.

But it takes more than recreation to attract families and couples to relocate full-time.

Quality Education for Both Children and Adults

For families with school-age children, the excellent reputation of the Brainerd school district has been a big draw. There are many benefits:

  • Top teachers (in the top 20 schools in the state)
  • Small class sizes (16:1 average ratio)
  • Extracurricular and sports opportunities
  • Strong community support for the school system
  • Online access to your child’s schoolwork and teachers

Central Lakes College (CLC) works with the high school in providing post-secondary classes for students who want to get a head start on their college credits. It also provides a great opportunity for high school graduates to start working on their college credits without the expense of moving away from home.

The student body at CLC is a mix of teenagers, young adults, and older adults. The small school atmosphere offers a family feel that encourages cross-generational understanding and support. Small classes, passionate professors, and a wide range of extra-curricular activities ensure a personalized and positive education experience.

Modern Health Care with Multiple Options and Specialties

Choice is important when it comes to personal health care: Choice in primary care physicians, hospitals, specialists, mental health providers and alternative health care options. The Brainerd Lakes Area offers three quality health care systems within a 30-minute drive. For special medical situations, a medical helicopter is available for fast transport to St. Cloud or Twin Cities hospitals.

Community Involvement

Brainerd is rich in cultural and social organizations. No matter your interest, you won’t be disappointed in the opportunities available. Whether your interests lie in ecology, the arts, social justice, healthy living, fitness, politics, or historical preservation, you will find like-minded individuals happy to welcome newcomers. Your personal impact can often be magnified when contributing in a small-town setting such as the one you'll find in the Lakes Area.

Enjoying the “Up North” life full-time could be more in your grasp than you think. Contact your financial advisor to discuss how you can make your dreams of lake life a reality.

Mark Parrish

Mark Parrish

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

CFP®, Series 7, 24 & 63 Securities Registrations,* Series 65 Advisory Registration,† Insurance License Mark joined Wealth Enhancement Group in 2001 because of the philosophy of teamwork and strong client focus. He strives to build trust and confidence in clients so they can be free to live their lives without the burden of managing their finances. Mark is a lifelong resident of the Brainerd Lakes area and he and his family enjoy all that northern...Read More