Benzie County housing options will have you living in an area that is one of the North’s little secrets. The Benzie County region has a quiet, pastoral beauty about it, and a bounty of natural treasures: inland lakes, two navigable rivers, tons of state and federal land, Lake Michigan beaches, dunes, trails galore, forested swaths and sublime farmland. “It’s so beautiful here and there’s so much to do,” says Christine Stapleton, an area real estate agent who has lived in Benzie for most of her adult life. “That’s why we live here.”

The year-round communities here are small and tight-knit, and they enjoy plenty of amenities. In Frankfort, for example, living in town comes with city services and utilities; quick access to the bank, post office and other everyday necessities; and walkable access to restaurants, galleries, coffee shops, an art center, a brewpub, the municipal marina, and other establishments. Having all that just beyond your doorstep comes with a higher price tag, of course–Frankfort commands higher home prices; Stapleton says the average cost of a single-family, in-town home hovers around $180,000. In comparison, a home in nearby Honor, a much smaller village, might start around $70,000 or $80,000. Home prices in picturesque Beulah are somewhere in between; the village has the same size population as Honor (a little more than 300 year-round residents) but sits on the south shore of Crystal Lake, affording quick beach access to anyone who lives in town.

Of course, with so much untouched land in Benzie County, there is plenty of space for truly rural living. Stapleton says there are good deals to be had out in the countryside. “You could get a place on a little bit of acreage that doesn’t need a lot of work, starting at about $115,000, maybe $125,000,” she says. Development has been slow in the countryside, so vacant land is also in abundance, if a larger parcel of wilderness is what you’re looking for.

But one place development is hopping is on Benzie’s inland lakes. Lake frontage costs more, of course, with prices dependent on the particular lake — and Benzie has nearly 60 of them. All-sports lakes are popular for those like to spend weekends wakeboarding or just tooling around on the boat. “Big Platte Lake is a big secret in Benzie County because you can go from the lake down the Platte River all the way to Lake Michigan in a canoe or kayak, and you go right through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore,” Stapleton says.

Check the MyNorth list of Realtors.

Photo(s) by Brian Confer