Pied-à-terre is French for “foot on the ground” and is often described as a city apartment used by suburban or rural residents to get a cultural fix. Who’s to say it can’t work in reverse? Why can’t urban dwellers put a “foot on the ground” in a small town just a bit too far away to be commutable?
The point of a second shelter is to get away. Sure, mostly we showcase homes that you want to get away to for some specific reason (usually cultural or geographic) but what about getting away to a different pace of life?
Texas and southern Oklahoma are littered with just the sort of small towns required to take an urban, high-stress life down a notch or two. What’s great about these towns is that real estate isn’t pricey because many small towns are dying slow deaths to urbanization. Of course a caution, too: The flip-side may be that real estate takes longer to sell … a good thing if you’re a buyer, less so if you’re a seller. So your dream getaway may not be as liquid should you need to sell in a hurry.
This isn’t to discourage, but to help buyers understand that research into an area has another dimension to consider … how vibrant is the local real estate market. Seek smaller communities that have the benefit of a self-sustaining real estate market.
Also, a side benefit to being close to Oklahoma (aside from wallet-emptying casinos and their has-been weekend concerts) is their painfully low property taxes. Did you know Oklahoma has the sixth lowest average property tax rate in the country? Want to be on Lake Texoma but choke at the prices and taxes? Hop across the lake to Cartwright, Okla., and pay less than a third of the Dallas property tax rate. Talk about money for nothing more than living on the north shore versus the southern.
355 Oak Hills Road, Cartwright OK
Granted, not much curb appeal, but this three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has 1,629 square feet and sits on 1.75 acres bordered on two sides by forest leading to Lake Texoma. It’s listed with Jack Pittman of Steve Cook & Co. for $139,500. At that price you could probably put the down-payment on a credit card. It’s about 90 minutes away up Central Expressway.
But on the inside you have a renovated open concept home with a bead board ceiling. Yes, the pillars are disappointing but at this price point, they’d be super expensive to remove. Great floors and good window space.
While not a fan of plaid curtains, the appliances are new and the cabinet and counter space are great for weekend get-togethers. Slap up a big screen in the living room and this is the perfect place for the big game when you’re not boating/Sea-Doo-ing around the lake.
Both bathrooms have also been redone with nice fixtures and tile floors. As you can see, this is not a small space. Nice and unexpected in a 1,629 square foot home.
Remember what I said about location in the trees? Sure there are homes closer to the water (and if you’re serious, you should wait to see more listings), but for the price, the location is pretty sweet. Also note the dotted line that separates your property tax bill.
30 Post Oak Place, Rockdale, TX
This home is sort of at the center of the universe. Rockdale is a pinch under three hours from Dallas within spitting distance of Waco, Temple, Austin, and College Station. It lies off US-79 between IH-35 and I-45. This means in addition to easy access to the vibrancy of Austin and several college towns, weekends can be filled with Blue Bell factory tours and Texas’ best BBQ in Lockhart, Luling, Lexington and Taylor.
The home was built in 1953 and is located in a small sub-division with essentially acre lots. The reason the exterior picture is not great is because of the home is pretty obscured by a lot of trees (in a good way). The home is 2,043 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms listed with Judith Matula of Pud Owens Realty for $179,900. Oh, and it’s definitely a fixer-upper and possibly an estate sale.
The living room tells a story of the home. It’s all very 1953 with tons of carpet waiting to be ripped out to expose the hardwoods below. Paint the built-ins on either side, lower the mantle, replace the fireplace screen and plop a big screen on top and you’re looking good. To the right of the picture is a wall of windows overlooking the treed front yard. Were the photographer to turn around, you’d see the dining room with kitchen beyond.
The kitchen, though renovated, is an opportunity lost. The soffit should have been knocked out and the cabinets extended to the ceiling (not too difficult) for a more modern look with better storage. Ditto the laminate countertops (although for $179,900, laminate isn’t unexpected).
Like I said, a fixer-upper. The home has “Good & Plenty” bathroom tile (one pink, one black) with white fixtures. Some of you are doubtless fans of the tilework … me, I’d gut it.
I think in the end, a buyer could have a pretty nifty second home in an area that relaxes but that is centrally located to whatever activities you’d want to explore. There’s also a potential commute to Dell’s Round Rock HQ (increasing the salability of the property). It’s certainly livable at present. A quick de-carpeting and you could move in and take care of the kitchen and baths at your leisure. Yes, I said leisure … some of us enjoy (the end results) of renovating.
Putting your “foot on the ground” has different meanings to different people. It doesn’t always mean an expensive vacation home. Your vacation home could just be someone else’s home-home. Done right, an off the beaten track, relaxing home offers peace of mind and wallet … and maybe some killer BBQ.
Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org