Last weekend I held two open houses downtown St Paul at Upper Landing on the Mississippi River. I met 15 couples between 55-75 years old, trying to decide if they should sell their house and move downtown. They were looking for a simpler way of living, closer to entertainment and the arts and many of them were snow birds with a second home in the south.

 The properties they were looking at had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a den and 2 parking stalls. One was a condo with one level living and one was a townhouse with a separate entrance, bedrooms upstairs and a private garage. They were priced at $399,900 and $429,900 with about 1,750 square feet. They both had a view of the bluff and not the river. The monthly association dues were $535 per month and the taxes were $5,300 and $6,200. To get the same floor plan with a river view would be $550,000-$600,000, a larger townhome facing the river recently sold for $900,000.

 The average selling price of a lake home on the Chisago Chain of Lakes is $414,133 year to date. So it is about the same price to own one of the condos as it is to buy a lake home. So how do you decide where to retire? Ironically, most of my downtown buyers can’t decide, so they have a condo, a cabin, and a winter home. This seems excessive, but if you ask them, they will tell you that owning real estate is their greatest asset. Sometimes their other homes are close to family and friends.

 My husband and I have spent over 30 summers on Green Lake and have been permanent residents for 11 years, but we also had an “urban cabin” in Lowertown (downtown St Paul) from 2012-2015. We rarely spent time there in the summers, but in the winter, we loved living in an historic open loft, on the skyway, the heated parking, and the entertainment. Our decision to sell the condo was based on the timing of the market as we took the proceeds and invested in Chisago City and Lindstrom. We still enjoy the city as it is only 30 minutes away, but nothing compares to waking up every day to the lake!

An experienced agent can provide you with pros and cons of retirement communities.

Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.