8 Things to Know When Looking for a Mountain Home

A home in the mountains is something my husband and I have dreamed of for years. Now that he is only three short years from retirement, we are starting to make plans to see that dream become our everyday life. This past weekend we flew to the Carolinas for our first mountain property search trip. We learned a lot of information over the course of the two day adventure. Some revelations were useful so I wanted to share these tips with you. You might need this insight if you find yourself looking for a mountain home. This is the kind of stuff you won’t hear from real estate agents, builders or mountain experts, and I wish someone would have told me.

Ok here’s the scoop:

  1. Cliffs are considered suitable for a home site in mountain communities.  Apparently having your home screwed into the side of the mountain supported by a couple of 2x4s is a perfectly acceptable foundation. Just because you need to stock up on good ropes, harnesses and crevasse rescue equipment is no reason not to build there.
  2. The words sloping, gentle incline, hilly, steep, bottomless pit of doom and prepare to meet your maker all mean relatively the same thing.  Also it’s customary to flatten the first 5 feet of every lot to give the illusion that there is land beyond that. Many times, there is nothing but a straight shot down from that point. But it’s ok – see #1.
  3. “Mountain view” means something vastly different from one person to the next. To me it means, I can see the mountains from my home. Here’s me on my porch. I look up and voila – mountains. To others it apparently means you might could see the mountains from the roof of your three story house if you cut down all your neighbors’ trees and got some binoculars on a clear day.
  4. When they say 4-wheel drive is not required, they are lying. They have also installed cameras to see if you will attempt the drive in your little 2 wheel vehicle. There’s a YouTube channel dedicated to these exploits.
  5. Roads in the mountains are not roads. At least not as you or I think of them. Basically, anything (ANYTHING) can pass as a road. Cart path? Nope. Road. Loosely defined trail through the woods? Nope. Road. Drainage ditch? Nope. Road. And do not assume that the narrow piece of asphalt/gravel/peanut shells you are driving on is obviously one way given its width. Just to keep life interesting, as you make your way you will encounter unsuspecting drivers coming towards you on a blind curve with a steep drop off into a gorge on at least one side of the car. What do you do? Oh don’t worry, the mountain people have you covered. “It’s ok. Just back up,” they say. Just back up? Where? “Oh see that postage stamp area over there about 300 yards back the way you just came from? That’s the pull over area for these exact situations.”. Oh well, in that case. Yes, let me just attempt this tight rope type maneuver in hopes that there’s no one behind me. They’ve apparently spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to torture guests.
  6. Footwear choices are very important when touring mountain lots. I chose wisely. I dawned a pair of black booties with fringe. I mean that says “mountains” right? Oh nay nay. These people walk through mud, holes, puddles, rivers, lakes, you name it to see a mountain view lot. They got me the first time. After that, I just said. “You go and facetime me from the top.” Apparently I need “duck boots”.
  7. This one is very important. They hide the lots. Your property tour will feel like an Easter egg hunt or being on a losing team in a scavenger hunt. 20 Mountain Laurel Loop may be the address listed on the website but try to find that in real life and you will find yourself on a gravel path (er…road) going over the side of a cliff (er…premium homesite). And if they give you a lot number in the MLS system, the neighborhood watch folks will run around the community before your arrival and pick up all lot markers, stakes, flags and landmarks. So apparently the only thing to do is to tour by helicopter in stealth mode. #8 is further evidence of this fact.
  8. The security guards at the gates take their jobs quite seriously. Never mind that you just passed a definite whisky still and potential meth lab on the way to this community. The gate police at these neighborhoods are convinced you are going to taint their mountain air if they let you in. So besides hiding all the lot indicators in the neighborhood, they will also make you do a background check, fingerprint test, ancestral family tree presentation, DNA test, COVID-19 swab, and full FBI profile before they permit entry. And Ernie takes this responsibility seriously so don’t make a joke or you will receive additional interrogation and strip search.

The last thing to tell y’all is that the mountains have creatures (including an albino squirrel that we saw twice). And if you are not a creature-loving person, you will need to invest in additional services to assist you in making your dreams come true. Forget the duck boots, the first thing I asked about was a snake-killer and ongoing maintenance program.

Stay tuned for more on the mountain home search!

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