You have finally decided to start lakeside living in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Bonfires, waterskiing, and a new boat are all on your horizon. Unfortunately, finding the perfect lakeside home for your family is not as quick or easy as it sounds. There are so many options to choose from in the New Hampshire Lakes Region – which location is the best? Which "life" do you want to live? Your “best” or your "life" depends on what type of person you are. Do you prefer to pack your days full of waterskiing and volleyball? Are you searching for a spot to host out-of-town family for Thanksgiving turkey? Or are you chasing down a peaceful spot where you can type your next novel uninterrupted?
It sounds like a daunting task, but thankfully, there are many local professionals who know the Lakes Region by heart. It’s important to work with one who will make every effort to learn your needs and then discover them for you in real brick and mortar. These wizards of home and garden have resources and time for this that you may not, simply because it’s their job to be masters of the market. We reached out to a professional agent, Roy Sanborn from Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty in Meredith, for some advice on finding your dream getaway. Hayden McLaughlin from Belknap Landscape Company chimed in with some landscape suggestions for your new home.
The Active Family
Maybe you are outnumbered by your horde of kids who, when they’re not playing team sports, are jumping off the dock, begging you to go tubing again, or wrestling each other off their paddleboards. And every second you have, you’re right there with them. Your home burns human energy like wildfire! Or, maybe you are a couple who relaxes through motion. When you’re not rushing around for work, you’re cycling through the morning sun rays, swimming laps, and jogging by the shore. If the word “active” resonates with you, read about what our local experts have to say about lakeside living.
What type of home in the lakes region would you recommend for a family with an active lifestyle?
RS: I would recommend a home that is low maintenance in structure and landscaping. Whether it is a full time home or a vacation property, you don’t want to be spending valuable time doing an excessive amount of yard work or home maintenance projects when you’d rather be hiking, boating or golfing. Sometimes people with active lifestyles will opt for a condominium type property so they can let someone else worry about the exterior upkeep.
What is one of the best lakes for an active family to live on?
RS: Lake Winnipesaukee offers the most for an active family in terms of the big lake experience. There is just so much to do and see on the lake. You can go to a different destination on the lake every day and never get bored. There are great areas for water skiing and tubing, and quiet coves and sandy areas for swimming and kayaking. But buyers shouldn’t discount the smaller lakes either. Winnisquam, Newfound, and Waukewan connect to highly desirable properties and offer a lot of bang for the buck.
Is there a particular town that's a better location for an active family?
RS: Each family will probably have their own favorite town in the Lakes Region. Fortunately, one lakeside town is never very far from another. Gilford has always been a favorite for people looking for an active lifestyle, because of Gunstock skiing in the winter and ziplines and other activities in the summer. Residents of Gilford get to use the amazing Gilford Town Beach which is one of the best on the entire lake. Ellacoya State Part is just down the road and also offers a great beach. There is also the Gilford Town Docks which is the perfect spot to launch your boat. There are plenty of places to hike, golf, and even play tennis in Gilford. And...there is Meadow Brook, now called the Bank of NH Pavilion, where you can enjoy a big name performance concert. But don't forget towns like Meredith, Moultonborough, and Wolfeboro, as each offers their own great fare of activities for those seeking adventure.
What outdoor landscape features would enhance an active family's outdoor living space?
HM: Fire pits! After an exhausting day on the water, nothing beats curling up by a fire to roast marshmallows and smokies. It’s the perfect time and place to quit rushing and rehash your awesome day on the lake with the family.
When it’s time for the annual office party, everyone is secretly hoping that you’ll be the ones who volunteer as hosts – and of course you do! When family members scatter across New England, your home is the hub where everyone reconnects to stuff holiday stockings or slice birthday cake. Your home is where your daughter’s soccer team comes for bonfire night, and it’s easy to invite couples over for a wine tasting just because you feel like it! If there’s a party happening, you’re behind it. You have mastered hospitality, now learn from our experts the lakeside home that’s right for you.
What type of home would you recommend for a family who enjoys entertaining family and friends?
RS: A great entertaining home often has an open concept living area that expands onto a porch, deck or patio. Today, the kitchen is like Entertaining Central, so it is important that it is somewhat spacious, has great counter space and seating areas, and good line of sight to wherever guests might congregate. To bring the party outside, a great porch with a barbecue or an oudoor kitchen and plenty of seating or a backyard patio with a fire pit can add enormous versatility for gatherings of any size. This adds a lot of value to a home for little investment. It doesn't matter whether the home is a multi-million dollar mansion or a small lakefront cottage, great entertaining can happen in any price point!
What is one of the best lakes for entertainers to buy a property?
RS: I think you could pick any lake for this kind of family. It may come down to affordability with Squam Lake and Winnipesaukee being on the high end, Winnisquam, Newfound, and Waukewan being middle of the road, and some of the smaller lakes like Kanasatka, Crystal Lake, Pemi, and Winona being more affordable. I can party on any lake!
Is there a town that's more suited for this type of lifestyle?
RS: Each town in the Lakes Region offers equal opportunity and areas for homeowners to either relax by themselves or entertain to their hearts’ content.
What additions to an outdoor living space or backyard would you recommend for a family that entertains?
HM: Entertainers should definitely consider installing fire pits, patios, horse shoe pits, and keep lots of lawn area open for family games! Outdoor kitchens and living areas allow hosts to make meals while still conversing with the guests outside, instead of having to disappear into the kitchen. Outdoor installations really expand your entertaining possibilities because you can host a lot more people.
The Quiet Ones
Maybe your work life is a blur of phones ringing and twenty tabs open on your browser at once. Maybe your relatives are demanding and you just need a sweet escape. Maybe you’ve spent your life working on homes and lawns and the last thing you want to do now is work on your own. Peace and quiet is what you crave. Roy and Hayden will key you in on where you can do lake life your way – read on!
What type of home would you recommend for a more quiet family simply looking for a relaxing atmosphere?
RS: I think both older couples and career driven couples in need of some peace and quiet would do well in many of the gated communities like South Down, Long Bay, and Grouse Point as well as a number of other condominium complexes. Here they can relax without worrying about outside yard and building maintenance and focus on enjoying all that the Lakes Region has to offer. Who wants to cut grass and paint the trim when the lake, hiking trails, or golf course awaits. People find it amazing how quiet these complexes are despite the number of units there are. There is no hustle and bustle here. You can still find a house or cottage that’s quiet and easy to maintain – it just might be a little more elusive. That’s why the experts are here to help!
What is one of the best lakes for a quiet family to live on?
RS: Any lake will do, but most of the condo associations are on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Which towns on these lakes are the quietest?
RS: If you want peace and quiet, you can definitely find it – but you have to remember that total privacy on any lake can be costly. Everyone wants a little slice of the lake lifestyle so that's why lots on a lake are generally smaller and much more expensive. Overall, if you want peace and quiet towns like Tuftonboro, Moultonborough, Sandwich, and Holderness offer more of that than most.
What kind of landscape enhancement would you recommend for a family that enjoys relaxing and spending time outside in the peace and quiet?
HM: Definitely a pool or hot tub so you do not need to share their swim space. Tranquil gardens with a gazebo for early morning coffee, and a backyard waterfall to add relaxing noise into the atmosphere. An outdoor fireplace would make evenings cozy.
No matter what your intentions for a home maybe, whether it’s a primary home, a second - or third home, the New Hampshire Lakes Region has the perfect place for you. It’s important to know what your goals for the property are so that experts like Roy and Hayden can help you find the perfect place and create the backyard of your dreams.
Now that you know what kind of "lakeside life" you want to live. Read part two of this series on “choosing a lake” in New Hampshire's beautiful lakes region and making that lake your home.