Yves here. Those of you who know and love Door County (a peninsula in Wisconsin with Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other) may be offended at it being called a “secondary” tourist area. But it almost entirely a regional holiday destination, laid back, outdoorsy, with lots of hiking and biking trails, sailboating and canoeing, camping, three summer theaters (one which gave Harvey Korman of Blazing Saddles and Carol Burnett Show fame his start), some small and pleasant beaches, and Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay, famed for goats on its roof.
I visited Door County for the first time last summer and was struck by how middle class it seemed. Even more so than Maine (which depends heavily on tourism but also has fishing and higher education as important sectors, and still some manufacturing, from the famed Bath Iron Works to smaller operations, such as mattress and furniture makers), it was exceedingly tidy and twee. But I didn’t see any borderline top 10% vendors, like Whole Foods or Ralph Lauren. Maybe I missed them, but their absence or scarcity made it seem particularly family friendly.
Recall also that Door County (again arguably like Maine) hasn’t been a prime target for retirement due to the winters. Dealing with snow is a nuisance, and runs the risk of falls and heart attacks, plus it requires a more extensive wardrobe and also shortens the life of cars (salt on the undercarriage).
With that as background, consider this reader report. And remember: if retirees of modest means are having a hard time finding small houses to buy, how are less well situated older people and on the whole financially disadvantaged young people going to get on?
By Jerry B
Over the weekend my wife and I were talking to a real estate agent up in Door County Wisconsin. If you are not familiar with Door County it is a peninsula in upper Wisconsin with the literal Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other side. It is a very popular summer destination for families as they have a lot of campgrounds and cabins.
The main city of Door County is Sturgeon Bay, WI. Sturgeon Bay has a large shipbuilding company that does mostly cargo ships. Sturgeon Bay also used to be the home of Palmer Johnson yachts/ships but Palmer Johnson was sold a couple of years ago.
My wife and I at least once a year rent a cabin near Sturgeon Bay. One recent time up there when Palmer Johnson was still there, we were driving across the bay bridge and parked in the water was a beautiful ship. It was Palmer Johnson’s DB9. If you have ever seen the movie Overboard it is that kind of ship and has a crew of 12. It listed for $60 million. It was waiting to go to the Mediterranean as a charter company bought it for it’s charter business. To charter the DB9 for one week is $100,000.
Given its location between Green Bay and Lake Michigan you can imagine that Sturgeon Bay and Door County are heavy boating areas with a lot of yachts parked in the bay during spring and summer.
When I was in high school I knew quite a few families that went up to Door County for vacation and camping. Due to the many campgrounds in Door County it was an inexpensive vacation for families.
That is still very much the case today but as with the rest of society things are changing. When my wife and I were up in Door County last year while driving around we noticed a lot of new and expensive housing being built especially on the Lake Michigan side.
My wife and I are looking at Door County as one place to live during our retirement. So we wanted to get a sense of the market for people on a limited budget. We had seen some areas that had small affordable houses. The real estate agent said the small affordable houses do not last long on the market. The agent also mentioned that like many areas around the country and the world, the vacation areas are becoming expensive as many people with money to burn are buying houses and property in these area.
There are many pricey homes being built in Door County. The agent mentioned one home that is only 1400 square feet and it is listed for $250K. She also mentioned that builders are not building apartment complexes or affordable homes but are going after the higher end homes.
Here comes the moral or lack of morals of my story. The real estate agent mentioned that she had one couple who “cashed out” some of their financial assets and bought a $500,000 house with all CASH.
Like a lot of people I think we need a wealth tax or some means of leveling the scales. The MSM focuses too much on income inequality and not enough on wealth inequality.
I think many people do not realize how much wealth there is in the US and the world so I wanted to give one example. IMO nobody should being buying or paying cash for a $500,000 when there is poverty and homelessness in the US.