“A Place to Call HOME”: Our Second Home at River Ranch in McCall, Idaho

My coffee was warm as I began to read the Wall Street Journal. My eyes locked on front page of the Real Estate section, “How to get the Most Out of a SECOND HOME” by Daniel Akst from March24, 2019. I wondered if this article contained the logic and financial information that my husband and I needed to pull the trigger and settle on our dream of a permanent family getaway. My legs were still tired from skiing at Brundage Mountain – having worked hard in the airy powder that was so different from the wet, heavy California snow of Lake Tahoe. I sipped and read.
The WSJ article was clear a second home comes from a motivation of very different factors than the purchase of a primary residence. A second home purchase does not need to weigh the quality of the local schools, it does not need to be within a specific commuting range, or necessarily be close to friends and family. A second home location is about “feeling”. Feeling freedom and escape from our demanding regular lives and work lives in the Bay Area. Freedom to escape into the recreation and hobbies that we need to refresh and re-energize ourselves and family for the life at home. 
It seems second home ownership has an almost specific formula to lessen the burden and hassle of caring for another residence. According to the WSJ article, size matters! The article quotes Gary DiMauro, a well-regarded real estate professional with four offices in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley, “Stick with 2,500 to 3,500 square foot range, with three or more bedrooms and baths, on 5 to 10 acres.” My legs stretched and I gazed out the window of the Trapper Cabin’s family room at the snow-covered landscape of River Ranch. River Ranch seems to have been laid out like DiMauro recommended, lots that ranged from 4-10 acres with water views on almost every lot along 2 ½ miles of pristine river frontage, 1 ½ miles from the town of McCall, and 15 minutes from the incredible powder of Brundage Mountain.

 Recreation and four-season living are what drew our family to McCall. Here we could spend our winter days not concerned with Tahoe’s traffic and lift lines, but in true powder country. Snow and lots of it covered Brundage Mountain. We skied like we had always wanted to; lots of runs, lots of powder days, lots of laughs with our kids and lots of evenings filled with sore legs, happy hearts, and good family times. And of course, a glass of red wine or two for the adults. When not on the mountain, our teenager’s fat tire bike along the North Valley Rail Trail , which begins at River Ranch! Snow crunching beneath their tires is matched only by their calls to race each other. My sore skiing legs did not even try to keep up! 

We have loved our winter days at River Ranch exploring the property and the picturesque town of McCall. We were staying in the development’s Trapper Cabin, which had been kindly offered to us by the Development’s friendly and knowledgeable sales team of Chris Reino and Sasha Childs . They offered guidance and snowshoed the property with us to find our special lot. The Trapper Cabin had been made ready for our stay by inIdaho.com, the exclusive concierge service provider for River Ranch owners. It was our third winter in McCall, and each year our kids got to be stronger skiers, my husband and I got older, and our desire to find a place to build our second home to slow down and escape our incredibly busy life in the Bay Area got stronger. 

 The WSJ article closes by stating that a second home can be “tax efficient if you build or buy it in a lower tax jurisdiction than your main home”. California was possibly the highest tax burdened state one could live in. If we could see ourselves retiring and living in McCall full time, we could actually save money by building our dream second home. I remembered reading in the local newspaper, McCall Star News, that the hospital was undergoing a large expansion that would create a medical facility that rivaled those in Boise to the south. Retirement living in a four-season community with an alpine lake and top-tiered medical care in a thoughtfully planned out community like River Ranch seemed doable.

 My coffee was almost gone, my sore legs needed a walk. Through the window, I looked across toward Lot 33 and wanted to snowshoe through its 5 acres to see if I could decide what view my kitchen would have after we designed and built our dream second home. I knew River Ranch would be where we would commit to that dream.

To see more about McCall’s Mountain Lake Life, check out the video below:

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