There are several Emmet County housing options because part of what makes Emmet County so pristine is that nearly a third of the land here is held in public ownership. So whether you choose to live in one of the county’s walkable small towns or somewhere out in the countryside, you’re never far from unspoiled nature. Yet even if it’s solitude you seek, you’ll still be connected to a supportive community. “One of the things people are always amazed by in all these little towns is how tight-knit the communities are,” says Kevin Olson, president of the Emmet County Board of Realtors. “Some people can’t believe towns like that still exist.”

Housing here reflects all manner of income and lifestyle, ranging from in-town apartments to rambling Victorians, brand-new luxury waterfront homes to historic farm houses on acres of land. New construction is on the rise, too. The median home price for the county as of December 2014 was $169,000 (up-to-date information about the housing market is available at

When it comes to in-town living, Emmet County is home to a number of small towns and villages. The biggest communities are Petoskey and Harbor Springs, followed by Mackinaw City, Alanson and Pellston. Nearly half the homes in Emmet County are on city or “suburban” lots. Many people are attracted to the lifestyle that communities like Petoskey and Harbor Springs offer, where they can live just a short walk from schools, houses of worship, city parks, restaurants and cafes, farmers markets, grocery stores and other amenities. “In-town living is great for people who get up in the morning and want to walk to get their coffee,” Olson says. “They like that lifestyle.” In Petoskey, the median home sale price is about $119,950; in-town home prices can vary greatly depending on location and view.

Living a more secluded life in a country setting is also appealing to many people, Olson says, from young families interested in the growing niche agricultural economy to retirees looking for some quiet and space after a years in an urban setting. Homes are available on properties of just a few acres to 40 acres or more, starting at about $150,000 and going up from there, depending on property size and location.

Of course, one of the biggest draws to the region is the waterfront. There’s nearly 70 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline here, which is what many people first think about when dreaming of a waterfront home, but lovely inland lakes like Crooked Lake and Pickerel Lake (both on the Inland Waterway) are also places to look. Prices can vary widely for waterfront access, depending on home size, proximity to a downtown like Harbor Springs or Petoskey, and other factors; in general, waterfront home sales start at about $300,000 and can go up to $4 million or more.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a home, lifestyle or location, Emmet County’s diversified housing market means you’ll have choices. As Olson says: “You kind of have it all here.”

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski