Charlevoix County housing options range from small towns to rural escapes. Charlevoix County is the fourth-smallest county in the state, based on land area—because there’s more than twice as much water in the county than there is land. Lake Charlevoix is the region’s largest and most renowned natural feature, and the county’s three largest towns—Charlevoix, Boyne City and East Jordan—are all located on its shores. And, of course, Beaver Island residents are completely surrounded by lake. Water is a big part of life here, and even those who don’t live directly on the waterfront are never far from it. Boating, fishing, beach walks—and beauty, whose influence on quality of life can’t be underestimated—are just a stone’s throw away. “If you like sunsets, we’ve got some of the best sunsets anywhere,” says Mark Knapp, the managing broker for Coldwell Banker Schmidt in Charlevoix.
If you dream of a lifestyle that lets you live close to work and the great outdoors, Charlevoix County’s lakefront cities and villages are your ticket. Charlevoix, Boyne City and East Jordan all offer in-town living that’s also close to opportunities for outdoor recreation: public parks, marinas, bike trails. Beach walks and sunset picnics suddenly become something you can do on a typical Tuesday. But as with in-town living anywhere else, residents are also just a short distance from schools, parks, festivals, farmers markets and other amenities.
While Lake Charlevoix alone has 56 miles of shoreline, it isn’t the only option for those who desire living on or near the water. Lake Michigan and Round Lake are spectacular, but places like southern shore of Walloon Lake, inland lakes like Deer Lake and Six Mile Lake (the latter of which is the start of the Chain of Lakes), and even the Boyne River, a fine trout stream, shouldn’t be overlooked. And if a more secluded life out in the countryside is attractive, there’s plenty of options, with rural spaces in Charlevoix County ranging from farmland to state forestland.
Beaver Island, with its community of 600-some year-round residents, offers another kind of secluded living: island living. Accessible only via ferry or airplane, this historic Lake Michigan island has a small downtown but otherwise is covered with glorious wilderness beyond: trails, beaches, inland lakes, inlets, and beautiful state forest land. Kayaks and fishing gear do not gather dust here.
As far as home prices go, they are dependent on so many factors: which town or township the home is in, whether it’s in-town or not, how close it is to waterfront. The market is heating up, too; Knapp says in 2014, the average home price increased in Charlevoix County, to about $232,000, and the average days that homes spent on the market had decreased. But that average takes a wide range into account, which can include homes that sell for less than $100,000 to multi-million dollar properties. According to Zillow.com, the median home price in Charlevoix County as of January 2015 was $189,000.