For a City Family, a Lakeside Second Home Beckons


They checked Zillow and picked a house for sale so they could navigate there. “We just wanted an address that looked like it was close to the lake,” said Ms. Parker, 34. They drove by. The house, in New Milford, looked beautiful and new.

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DANBURY A steep grade to the lake felt more like “mountain goat living” than lakefront living.

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Janine Lamontagne for The New York Times

Their first thought was to rent a house for the following summer. So they contacted agents in the area, including Denise Kavovit, a saleswoman at Advanced Waterfront in Newtown, Conn.

“The properties around the lake are unique,” Ms. Kavovit said. “Every property is so different from every other.”

But the Parkers did not find a house they liked enough. Besides, if they rented, “at the end of the summer, all we would have are memories,” said Mr. Parker, 37, who works in commercial real estate. “I would rather own something if we are going to part with that much money.”

The idea of buying near Candlewood Lake grew on them. The drive from Manhattan, 70 to 90 minutes, had little traffic, except occasionally on Friday evenings.

They thought ahead to their children’s teenage years, when they would want to spend weekends with city friends rather than at a remote house. A nearby lake, with water activities, would take care of that.

The Parkers researched Candlewood Lake, which is surrounded by five towns that include more than 50 individual communities. Their aim was a house from $500,000 to $700,000 in a community with activities for the kids. The layout had to allow for extended-family gatherings — a tough task in their Manhattan apartment.

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NEW MILFORD A location on a busy road did not seem safe for the children.

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Janine Lamontagne for The New York Times

The first house they saw, listed for $675,000, was on Great Plain Road in Danbury, with a steep grade to the lake that felt more like “mountain goat living” than lakefront living, Mr. Parker said.

“With small children you kind of tense up when they run down to the lake on steep stairs,” he said. And this one was not part of a homeowners’ association with amenities. It ended up selling for $610,000.

Safety was also an issue at a house on Candlewood Lake Road South in New Milford, for $700,000. The lake was across the road, which had a 40 mile-an-hour speed limit. The Parkers passed it by. That one sold for $662,500.

Both houses had three bedrooms and seemed too small for family gatherings.

Though some houses flew off the market, others seemed to be priced high. The Parkers watched prices drop over many months. “Generally, they didn’t seem to be in a rush to sell,” Mr. Parker said.

They had never visited the very first house, the one they had used for navigation purposes. It was originally listed for $799,000, but had since dropped to $699,000. Annual taxes were around $9,000.

The Parkers loved the layout, with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, plus a large basement. It was new, which they believed would mean few maintenance issues. It was not directly on the water, and its homeowners’ association had plenty of family-friendly activities.

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NEW MILFORD A four-bedroom house with easy lake access was big enough for family gatherings.

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Janine Lamontagne for The New York Times

The Parkers bought the house last fall for $653,000. “We arrive in about the same time it takes us to binge on two episodes of a Netflix show,” Mr. Parker said.

And their city children will have outside-the-city experiences, Ms. Parker said — including learning to drive.

On a rainy, windy night a few weeks after the family’s arrival, a tree fell on the house. Branches shattered the children’s bedroom window. “It was pretty traumatic,” Mr. Parker said. Nobody was injured and the house was repaired.

Meanwhile, homeownership — a first for the Parkers — feels like “an endless supply of small projects that cost $250 to $750 at a time,” he said.

The Parkers spend most weekends at the house. Even now, though, there are school activities in the city on some weekends.

“Over time, there will be a few growing pains,” said Ms. Parker, referring to the family’s whereabouts on days off. “Right now it’s our shiny new toy and we want to be there as much as possible.”

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