Historically, the accelerated level of development at Smith Lake began sometime around the 2001-2002 time period. Prior to this time, outsiders frequenting the area were mainly individuals involved with some form of water-sports activity. By today’s standards, during this time period, Smith Lake could be likened to “a diamond in the rough”. All this changed once waterfront development became the area’s new “industry”. Much of this undeveloped land was previously owned by timber companies, for them, the undulated nature of the terrain was unsuitable for sustained logging operations. This “undesirable” waterfront property, much of it with “post card” views, was ideally suited for second home/vacation home development.
Before to the year 2000 there was very little in the way of large scale, or “subdivision” type development at Smith Lake. Once this waterfront development began to expand, it offered amenities previously unavailable for those contemplating a waterfront lifestyle. These new offerings combined with appropriate waterside accoutrements seemed to have a magnetic effect on individuals associated with professional backgrounds. In the paragraphs that follow, we will share our story about the habits, desires and mannerisms of Smith Lake’s newest group of inhabitants.
Here are a few bits of interesting demographic information to digest. One in four baby-boomers owns a second home. Twenty-four percent of second/vacation home owners are retired. Average annual income for second/vacation home owners is 150K. These second/vacation homes range in price from 300K to well over one million in cost. There are over six-million second/vacation homes in this country today. The owners of these homes spend nineteen billion, (that’s right, with a B) per annum on maintenance and upkeep. This figure does not include the initial cost of buying and furnishing their second/vacation home. This spending has increased forty-six percent since 1995.
What are Professional Types looking for?
Let’s take a close look at the waterfront necessities our Smith Lake “professional neighbors” desire. This group feels it is paramount to find an “ideal” geographic location. Items such as climate/weather conditions, a secluded low stress environment, good water quality etc. is extremely important when making the decision on where to build/purchase a waterfront home. On a scale of 1 – 5 with 5 being the highest, this group rated finding a suitable geographic waterfront location a 5.
Many of these individuals invested a significant amount of time looking at waterfront communities before making a purchase. Can you imagine visiting between three and over twenty plus lakeside communities throughout the southeastern United States before making a decision?
Our research found there were several “must have” requirements when searching for that ideal waterfront location. An over-whelming majority of this group rank an appropriate grade to the water, “picture postcard” views and a specific location on Smith Lake as mandatory.
We found that while costs associated with a waterfront purchase/building is important, nearly half this group was indifferent towards cost being a deciding factor with their investment at Smith Lake. Approximately two-thirds of our professional neighbors live/lived within two-hundred miles of Smith Lake.
A few other interesting facts to share; clean water, undeveloped shoreline and distance away from a hurricane threat rank high on the list of amenities with our neighbors at Smith Lake. Over eighty percent of these professionals rate the quality of life at Smith Lake superior to, or better than, other places where they have lived or frequented. This is a clear testament to the unique environment we enjoy at Smith Lake.
The Creature Comforts
Now for a look at how the professionals rate creature comforts at Smith Lake. While shopping and other cultural offerings are not in close proximity, this group of Smith Lake residents seems to view that drawback as insignificant. Our analysis indicates that most of these professionals don’t visit dining establishments on a regular basis, with over half visiting less than once per week.
Activity interests at the lake vary, a significant number partake in walking and/or gardening on a regular basis. An interesting note, hiking by far, outranks all other activities with this group. Boating, fishing and bird watching rank highest on the list of waterfront activities, with kayaking, sun bathing and water skiing coming in a close second. Other activities enjoyed by this group include; golf, bicycling, competitive running and hunting/archery.
About two-thirds of this group attends cultural events on an infrequent to frequent basis. Around the same number are members of fraternal groups, civic organizations, or clubs. Professionals place a high value on their ability to socialize with family, friends and business associates at Smith Lake. About seventy-five percent of them entertain at Smith Lake on a regular basis.
What do they see in the Future?
We asked this group for their predictions on a variety of issues. About two-thirds indicated over the next several years, Smith Lake will experience significant growth in retail, as well as fine dining establishments. Almost everyone feels that present water quality conditions can be maintained at Smith Lake. These professionals feel population growth will continue at a steady pace. For the members of this group who do not presently live full-time at Smith Lake, two-thirds will move here at some point in time.
If they could Change Something
A significant number mentioned they would like to see upscale dining facilities at Smith Lake. In particular, they want facilities which will offer access by water. The addition of grocery stores/retail outlets convenient to lakeside occupants is often mentioned as well. Members of this professional group wonder if efforts can be initiated to maintain a more consistent water level throughout the year. Other changes this group would like to see, creation of a zoning and planning commission to control waterfront development and preserve water quality while retaining the natural beauty of the area. This group enjoys interacting with area vendors; they will continue to be on the lookout for sources where they can purchase locally grown produce and other hand made items.
As time inches forward, a continuing migration of these active as well as retired individuals, which include, business owners, entrepreneurs, lawyers, medical professionals, technical people, educators and many others, will gather at Smith Lake to enjoy the wonderful amenities this special place has to offer. Present and future residents at Smith Lake will have much to share in the years that follow. Let’s make the most of it!