We Bought a Vacation Rental!

We Bought a Vacation Rental

It took my husband and I all of 24 hours to purchase our lakefront vacation rental. Twenty-four hours between seeing the listing online, driving north to see it, and putting in an offer.

Of course, those 24 hours don’t include the years we’ve spent dreaming and building our real estate business. But that’s a story for another post.

Here’s how that fateful day started.

I’m eight months pregnant and we drive down to Madison for our baby shower. We spend the afternoon surrounded by friends and family, thinking about how much our life is about to change. We have lots of conversations with lots of different people. One of those conversations is with my Aunt and Uncle, who recently became AirBnB hosts. The conversation is casual, light. A little ripple that is hardly noticeable at first.

Our baby shower ends, and we make the long drive home. Somewhere around Fond du Lac, Matt says “We should do that.”

The first visit to the cabin. Our son, Miller, would join the party one month later on closing day.

In our real estate ventures, I’m usually the one pushing us to try things. I’m the dreamer, which typically forces Matt to play devil’s advocate. But here’s the kicker- there have been a handful of moments in our lives when this dynamic has switched. Suddenly, Matt gets excited about an idea. And he’s not one to waste time hemming and hawing.

When Matt gets a vision, WE. ARE. DOING. IT. It’s as simple and easy as that.

Finding Camp

So, with about an hour’s drive left, I pull out my phone and hop online. I search the Shawano area. Feeling a bit like a diviner, I’m just trying to source out every instinct Matt is having about this vacation rental concept (cue mystical voice, “Follow him, for he knows the way”). Matt has always been drawn to Shawano’s vibe. In our area of Wisconsin, it is the pocket of north-woods amidst a whole lot of farmland. It’s an hour from home and has multiple lakes, some for recreation and others for wildlife viewing.

The FIRST house I pull up is a little red, rundown cabin. It’s well within budget. It’s cute. It needs lots of work. It’s waterfront. It’s been sitting on the market for months. We instantly love it. I immediately schedule a showing for the next day and we spend the rest of the car ride running numbers.

The next afternoon after work, we hustle up to Shawano. When we get to the cabin, it takes about .05 seconds for us to know we will buy it. That night, we write an offer and it is quickly accepted.

Twenty-four hours.

The Vacation Rental Woo-Woo’s

I’ll always remember this moment: the two of us (well, three including our dog-child, Julie… well, four including Miller in utero) standing in knee-high snow, looking at the frozen lake. It was so quiet. We could see a few houses scattered around, but mostly just the tall pine trees. We reflect on the sometimes bizarre flow of life. We had been dreaming of living on a lake for years. We created such a clear picture of it in our minds. And suddenly, there it was! We found camp.

The story gets stranger still. A few days earlier, we had decided on a name for our son: Miller Lee, after my two grandmothers’ maiden names. After signing on the cabin, we decided to officially call the place “Camp Miller.”

We signed the title work on 3/6/2020 and officially took ownership.

My contractions started on the car ride home from closing.

Miller Lee McLagan was born that same night.

More to Come

So that’s the story. We have been slowly renovating over the course of the year. Starting spring of 2021, Camp Miller will be available as a vacation rental. (Find our listing on Airbnb and VRBO, live March 2021!)

At this time, I can only offer you truly low-quality “before” photos. Typically, I wait to publish and promote blog content until I have the “after” pictures. But what the hell. Enjoy viewing our cabin in all it’s pre-renovation glory!

Check out the Renovations page to view the full gallery. I will be adding photos to this area over the next few months. Want to see more photos now? Go to the home page and subscribe– I’ll send them straight to your inbox!

You are welcome to share this content, contact me with questions, or leave comments below.

My question for you this week:

Have you ever had that deep-in-your-gut feeling about something? A moment where your whole body goes, “Yeah, we’re doing this.” Tell me about it below or message me… I love hearing these!!


Much love,



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