homestead in upper michigan?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Nick53, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. Nick53

    Nick53 Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone currently or in the past lived in upper michigan? If so, what were your experiences like dealing with the shortend growing season, the local economy, and the presence of jobs? I've been looking at the possibility of maybe moving there in 3-4 years. I'm from eastern wisconsin, and am used to the cold, but i'd have a few more weeks up there i'm sure. The thing is that here i could barely afford to purchase a home here with my modest income from a job i really enjoy, and the taxes are killer. My thoughts are that i could save up for the next couple of years and buy a small place up there cash and would maybe only have to work part time or seasonally. I mentioned this to my mom the other day and she said it's a crazy idea, but I think it'd be sort of fun. I'm not looking to have a lot of land for livestock, but enough for a decent sized garden. Sorry for the length of the post, and thanks in advance for any and all replies.

    Thanks
    Nick
     
  2. Kirk

    Kirk Well-Known Member

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    Nick,
    I live in lower michigan and have a good share of my life. My wifes cousin recently moved away from the U.P. He was out on the Kewenau peninsula. I think he did some gardening and had horses up there. I would think with a garden you might be able to have a decent crop if you did the greenhouse thing. I don't know much about jobs there but seems like someone could do okay with a small business for tourist in the right area.
    I think that the U.P. is great for its isolation, cheap land and great scenery. If you are willing to work odd jobs, live on less and be creative I think you could do well to live there. Besides, then you would be able to call me a Troll. lol
    Kirk
     

  3. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    There is a fair amount of relatively inexpensive land in the Upper Peninsula. But, the sooner you buy it, the better. It is by no means cheap. You can still find 40 acre parcels starting at $40,000, but you probably won't have 4 season access. The more remote the land, the cheaper it will be. And there are lots of very remote areas.
    If you don't like winter and lots of snow, the UP is not for you. The city of Houghton averages 200 inches of snow annually.....and 300 inches isn't unheard of. It snows an inch or so almost on a daily basis. The local tv stations don't even mention snow unless 3 or more inches are on the way.

    An almost negligible amount of snow in other areas (WI, IL, IN, OH, IA, MN) for the 3 previous years (2001, 02, 03) has seen snowmobilers from throughout the midwest descending upon the upper peninsula and its lake effect snow. Some of these people are no doubt buying property in the area for a winter cabin for snowmobiling.

    If you are purchasing vacant land in the UP, you had best buy land on a blacktop or hard gravel road. There is a great deal of land in the UP that is only accessible on a seasonal basis. This is because of the soils, which are predominently red clay. There are many areas in which it is economically non-feasible to put in a road.
    They generally use "shot rock" (mining waste) as a base and then gravel over the top. Many, many areas will chew up $100/foot to get a 4 season road put in. Then you'll need culverts.


    The UP is not as isolated as it used to be. Jobs are not what could be considered "abundant", but there is always some work to do if a person is willing. Like much of the economy today, people are more & more having to "buy" their jobs (purchasing a small motel, bar, car wash, laundromat, etc) to insure a steady income.
    Jobs are diverse as the area. Houghton has a university. Baraga has a prison & a casino. Ironwood has 3 big ski hills in the area.
     
  4. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    hi Nick,
    yes, I have lived in upper michigan. I can remember my father setting out tomato plants on my birthday,5/26, and them freezing. But he soon learned you cover them. and he either started nearly all of his veggies, in the house, or bought plants. We always had very nice gardens, and grew lots of everything. It is true the winters are long, and really beautiful. Jobs, are another thing. Depending on what you want, if it is a factory related job, pretty much forget it, they are few and far between, If you can get enough land to start a goat dairy, or something that will bring an income in, then you should do fine. It just depends on what life style you want.And I would never live in the up, with out a good genarater, or wood stove, as power can and does go out. But it also can be very good, our neighbor, was an older man, retired, and he used to bring us salmon and other fish he'd caught. It was wonderful. and of course the hunting is good. Taxes in michigan aren't any better than wis. You might just find out that michigan, ranks right up there with new york, calf. and some other states. I think we are third from the top. We pay taxes on everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!land food, gas, clothing, you name it,we pay taxes on it. Unless, you raise everything.
    If I were you, I'd get me a little place, and have a few chickens, and a couple of milk goats, and if you pay cash for your place, and work the tourist trade in the summer, you just might make it. But you can find places that are reasonablly priced.hope this helps.debi
     
  5. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat Well-Known Member

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    From Beaverton Michigan the economy is increasing depressed the futher north you go...Property in many locations are affordable...Soil in 95% of Michigan is perfect for gardening...Growing season is shorter...But not shorter than Wisconsin...Availability of jobs is minimal...The deer are abundant and will eat your garden...Good Luck.
     
  6. Nick53

    Nick53 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the replies so far. This is the type of stuff i'm looking for!! From some of the research i've been looking through, i've sort of been looking at the crystal falls, or iron river area. Looks like a nice area from what i've read about. Maybe sometime this spring i'll take a day or two off of work and just go scope the area out. Like I said earlier, the snow doesn't bother me at all, so i don't believe that would be an issue. I already live a pretty frugal life not spending money on useless crap like some people like to do, so I think it might be possible to pull off a part time or seasonal type employment situation. Who knows? I'm just in my beginning stages of planning this out so we'll see what pans out. Thank you very much once again!!

    Nick
     
  7. affenpinschermom

    affenpinschermom Well-Known Member

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    We lived 30 miles north of Marquette, Mi. for 15 years. We had wonderful gardens, fruit trees, made syrup and raised livestock. The thing we had the most problem with besides the obvious butt deep snow, was fly season. Horrible.
    We have since moved to S.Central Ky. and I regret leaving the U.P. I find the heat and humidity here unbearable and we have more gardening problems here than the early and late frosts created.
    I think you'll love the U.P. It is full of very creative, good, hard working people. It is a real nesting place for unique people. Jean from ky.
     
  8. Nick, there's nothing but a river between me and Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the UP. We plant the Canadian long weekend in May, the weekend before your Memorial Day weekend. We cover above ground plants (like tomatoes and peppers) when necessary, as frost could rear it's ugly head right into June some years. Frost usually returns in mid to late September, but sometimes not even until October. This year, we had no snow until the end of Novemeber, but Halloween night we usually have it, but not stick. (just to tick off the kids) There's usually a week of really cold weather in January, but just a week, not a month like this year. Sap up here runs end of March, beginning of April. So that tells you that's when temps are above freezing during the day, below at night starting then.

    We've currently got about 2 feet of compressed snow in the back yard. We get quite a bit from the lake effect off Superior. As for taxes, cost of land, etc., I can't speak for the US side.

    Good luck in your search. It's awesome country up this way.
     
  9. fransean

    fransean Well-Known Member

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    We are moving to the UP also :dance: We bought 10 acres of vacant land about 3 1/2 years ago outside of Sault Sainte Marie and just bought a house in town that we will be moving to in the spring. I can't wait!

    One thing that I have found to be a problem is applying for jobs while we still live out of state. I have had several interviews but get knocked out of the running because of having to relocate. We lucked into finding a great deal on a fixer upper and will be moving then applying for jobs with all fingers crossed :D

    I do know that our land can grow because it was formerly part of a strawberry farm.

    Good Luck on your search!
     
  10. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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  11. LisaBug

    LisaBug Well-Known Member

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    Nick, we live only 15 miles from Crystal Falls but in Wisconsin. It is a nice area, short growing season of course. We figure 90 days, give or take. We moved to the area 18 years ago from central Wisconsin and don't regret it one bit. It's a bit of a culture shock sometimes but we sure do love it here.

    What kind of work are you willing to do? International Papers and other big companies are laying off, the mines are long closed so that leaves places like Pride Manufacturing (makes golf tees and such) or something in the logging business for the most part. Of course there's seasonal work at places like Ski Brule but there you get minimum wage. You could always go into Iron Mt. for work, there's more there.

    If you want to check on properties for sale here's the main one in the area:
    http://www.wildriversrealty.com/

    Land prices here are holding steady after a huge jump in the last 10 years, up to almost $2000 an acre for anything even remotely considered hunting land. It's cheaper by Crystall Falls and Iron River I believe. Houses in town aren't too bad but weekend warriors have driven prices up to the point where people around here hang on to what they have. One option is to check with someone like IP and see what they have for sale. And of course there's private sales.

    I'm not sure about taxes in MI but here they're terrible. Better make sure and talk to locals about the tax forecast, see what they have to say. Ours are going to be going up for the next few years (REALLY don't need THAT).

    Good luck in your research.

    LisaBug
     
  12. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to mention lots of prisons and casinos to work in nearly every town has both.


    mikell
     
  13. Kris in MI

    Kris in MI Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't have any experience with gardening in the UP, since the couple years we lived there dh was a student at Michigan Tech and we didn't have land of our own to mess with. But, I honestly don't think the growing season is going to be a whole lot different than it is here in mid-MI where I grew up and we currently live. The snow comes sooner and stays later, but the frost dates are about the same (end of May/beginning of June last usual frost and Sept first autumn frost).

    Economy is tough up there, not alot of industry and lots of people competing for the few jobs there are. That's a big reason we moved to lower MI after dh graduated instead of staying on up there (although he still faithfully browses MTU's website for any job openings there or at KRC in the engineering depts.). One good thing though, is that housing is relatively cheap. What we paid for renting a 3 bedroom mobile out of town on some land was about 1/2 of what a dumpy two bedroom apt costs in most of lower MI. Groceries are about the same as anywhere else in MI, but heating is definitely higher just because of the longer heating season.

    We do plan to move back up there once all the kids are grown and we can survive on a fraction of what it takes to feed, clothe, and house us now (4 kids). We are hoping in the next 5 years to purchase our land and use it as a getaway spot until dh gets closer to retirement, then build our 'real' house there in time to retire. We are looking for a big chunk of land; at least 80 acres for privacy sake, so don't want to wait too much longer before purchasing it. There has been an incredible amount of development in just the 10 years we've been away from the Keeweenau.
     
  14. arabgurl88

    arabgurl88 Well-Known Member

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    ok so this is super late but.... THE UP IS THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD!!!! and great for homsteading to boot :)
     
  15. Mostie

    Mostie Well-Known Member

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    If you can pay for your land outright, or pay most of it off at the time of purchase, and get your monthly expenses down as low as possible, you should do ok- we moved to N. MI., Montmorency Co-land was (what I would consider to be, because I'm originally from California, land of "plenty, and gimme more", lol) pretty inexpensive, and it's absolutely beautiful here- we're about 45 minutes or so from the bridge (so I've heard, haven't been there yet), and we moved here from downstate- the people are the friendliest and most helpful that I've ever seen-we had a hard time looking for work from downstate as well, and figured we would do better once we got here, so we took the leap- didn't turn out too great, jobs are seriously tough to find because there just aren't hardly any- if you can do some sort of "blue collar" type job, such as fixing cars, etc., there could be work- if you live frugally, and work part-time, you should do fine-

    Everybody thought we were crazy, too- LOL
     
  16. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I grew up near Grand Rapids Michigan, but have lived for thirty years in the eastern UP.
    When I lived downstate, I had a garden. At one point it was three acres. I know gardening.
    My attempts at gardening in the UP aren't good. The soil on my property is clay and the snow and frosts hang on way into the late spring. Lake Superior insures the night time temperatures are cool all summer. Good for sleeping, bad for crops that like warm soil.
    Not all the UP is clay. There are areas that are sandy, areas with just a bit of soil over rock and areas of drained swamp that contains a few feet of soil that looks like black compost but can't hold water and has a ph so low that nothing will grow.

    When I grew sweet corn it only grew three feet tall, but the stalk was very thick. I figured that was to withstand the cool western breezes. By mid-September, time of the first frost, the ears were suitable for adding to chowmein but you'd have to eat it cob and all! Southern slopes, sheltered from the wind and lighter soil do much better. MSU has a study going on to see how much can be grown in an unheated greenhouse that looks promising.

    "Lake Effect" is the weather phenomenon that takes a Wisconsin breeze, adds the moisture of a Great Lake, turns it to snow and dumps it in bands from 5 to 30 miles wide across Michigan. Generally 8-10 inches but I have seen 60 inches fall in 24 hours in early December. In lower Michigan and Wisconsin, there is often a warmer period between snow storms. This often serves to reduce the snow depth and create a crust hard enough to walk on. In the UP, the colder temperatures seldom let that happen. You end up shoveling out your driveway even when it hasn't snowed, it just keeps blowing around. You may be able to get around in the woods with 2 feet of hard packed snow and 6 inches of fluff. But when it is 3 feet of fluff, even with snowshoes you don't get far.

    Michigan is one of the top three states for having people leave. I think is is around 50 families a week that leave the state. No jobs.

    I wouldn't depend on prisons or casinos either.
    You need an associates degree to get a prison job and they are closing two or three prisons this year. The casinos around here got themselves into a financial jam with the Greektown casinos in Detroit, so are reducing staff wherever they can as they bail themselves out. Don't count on that as a job source, either. They hire tribal members almost exclusively.

    There are some low paying seasonal jobs relating to the tourist industry. Around St. Ignace, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island groups of workers are brought in from Jamaica, Serbia, Bosnia and other third world countries to fill the jobs formerly filled by college students.

    The forest related jobs are suffering due to the nations economy in general and the down-turn in the housing industry specifically.

    Small communities are very close knit and being accepted and included in many social activities can be a challenge in some areas.

    Black flies are much worse than swarms of mosquitoes and seem to hatch about the time you should be tilling your garden and getting your cold hardy plants set out. While they last all summer, they are worse mid-May to mid June.

    Spend your money on an education.
     
  17. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - More people are moving out of Michigan than any other state in the nation.
    Approximately 67 percent of the moves that occurred in 2008 were people leaving.
    North Dakota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Maine and Rhode Island also topped the outbound list.
    On the flip side, the study by United Van Lines shows the District of Columbia is the place most people are heading to. Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Oregon, Wyoming and South Dakota are also top destination choices.
    Representatives at the United Van Lines office in Grand Rapids said they are moving about 50 families a week out of Michigan - a number that used to be about 20.
     
  18. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    That works out well for me. We are moving IN. In fact, we are here house hunting today.

    I would save until I had my money an then see what I thought. 3-4 years is a lot of time for things to change. 3 years ago, our company wanted us to move to Michigan. Homes were just so expensive that we couldn't do it. Since they are closing our plant in TN, we HAVE to go. House prices are much better now.

    good luck!
     
  19. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    er,the original post is now 5 years old. reckon they either moved by now or found another dream ;)
     
  20. Mostie

    Mostie Well-Known Member

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    hahahaha, I didn't even notice that!