The great pandemic escape | Barron
For a while during the pandemic, dinner for Boston-based tech executive Corey McCann depended on whatever he managed to catch while fishing underwater. McCann wasn’t stranded on a desert island in the middle of the ocean, he simply chose to live off-grid in a modern luxury villa in Costa Elena, Costa Rica.
âBefore the Covid-19 hit, I traveled between San Francisco and Boston every week and spent 20 to 25 days each month away from home,â says McCann. âMy partner and I decided to use the pandemic as a reason to explore remote places and try a new way of life. “
While McCann’s ability to embrace a remote but luxurious lifestyle during the pandemic is rare, his instinct was shared by many Americans. People who could afford to leave cities headed for beach towns, hill stations and lakes where they could spend time outdoors and away from potential exposure to the virus.
Almost half of Americans (48%) polled by Gallup in late 2020 said they would choose to live in a small town (17%) or rural area (31%) rather than a town or suburb. The 2018 Gallup poll found that only 39% of Americans wanted to live in a small town or rural area.
In December 2020, McCann and his partner were in Costa Rica hunting yellowfin and ended up in Costa Elena, where they had rented places on several occasions. âWe decided to buy here because we both love modern design and the closeness to nature,â he says.
McCann’s House is one of eight Las Mareas Bay Villas in Costa Elena, a four bedroom, five bathroom house with a separate guest house and views of Salinas Bay, Orosi Volcano and the island of BolaÃ±os. While he declined to share the price of his villa, a similar villa is now listed at $ 1.45 million.
âOne of our big requirements was to have bulletproof Wi-Fi, because we have to attend Zoom meetings all day,â McCann said. Other infrastructure requirements for McCann included a generator and battery backup for routers and for surges, he says.
âThis place is hilly and feels off the grid, but it’s easy to get to as the airport is 90 minutes away and has direct flights to Boston and San Francisco.â
From the suburbs to the mountains
While around 50 million more rounds of golf were played in 2020 compared to 2019, mountain communities and golf course communities have attracted new residents seeking privacy.
For Kent Rounds, vice president of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, an escape to Idaho was just what he and his wife, Simone Rounds, 34, and their 6-month-old daughter needed to breathe easier during the pandemic. The permanent home of the Rounds is at Creighton Farms in Loudoun County, Virginia, outside of Washington, DC.
âI had previously skied in Idaho and was looking for a mountain area where we could stay during the pandemic,â says Rounds, 60. âI saw Tributary online and bought an invisible spot because that was exactly what I had in mind. The house is on half an acre and faces the Teton Mountains and the golf course for a breathtaking view.
Tributary, a low density community in Driggs, Idaho, offers the sense of seclusion and privacy the Rounds want. It also includes a spa, swimming pool, ice rink and ski lounge if they want to socialize. The community is approximately 45 miles from the Jackson, Wyo Airport.,.
The couple spent $ 2.5 million on their four-bedroom, 3,900-square-foot home and plan to split their time between Idaho and Virginia.
An extended stay in paradise
Hawaii’s travel restrictions kept some tourists from the islands during the pandemic, but others took the opportunity to settle there permanently.
Beth and Quentin Gillette, owners of PowerGrid Services, a Decatur, Alabama-based company that maintains power lines, have vacationed at the resort town of Kukui’ula on the island of Kauai for more than a decade, but it took a pandemic to get them to buy a house there.
âWe love to stay fit, hike and cycle. There is an organic farm in the community where we can pick vegetables, herbs and fruits and we overlook an orchard, âsays Beth.
Their home, named Hale Nanea and designed by architect Olson Kundig, offers panoramic ocean views.
âIt feels like living in a treehouse,â says Beth.
The Gillettes â she’s 57, he 55 â were able to run their business through video conferencing and the sometimes sporadic internet, even though the jet lag was frustrating at times. They plan to spend more time in Hawaii in the future despite the challenge of getting to Kukui’ula from Alabama, which can take up to 16-18 hours of multiple flights. The price of houses in Kukui’ula ranges from $ 2 million to over $ 5 million.
âThe beauty of this place is that it’s 180 degrees from Alabama,â says Beth.
A family adventure
For Marc and Kat Vorkapich, the pandemic has pushed them from Vero Beach, Florida to a 10-acre lakefront estate in the Homesteads of Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. Marc, 47, is President and CEO of Watercrest Senior Living Group and Kat, 42, handles media for the company. The couple have three children, aged 9 to 13.
âWe just wanted something different and when Marc found the Reynolds real estate site online, we hopped in the car to see it,â says Kat. âWe love the lake, the woods and the fact that we could build a house on a large lot. “
The Vorkapiches live in a rental property in the community while building a 9,500 square foot main house with a 1,700 square foot guesthouse on three acres of land on the lake. The lots range from $ 1.3 million to $ 3.2 million for three to 12 acres.
The property seems secluded, but the community includes a Ritz-Carlton hotel, restaurants, and leisure facilities, just 90 minutes from the Atlanta Airport.
âThe pandemic has just made us realize how fragile life is and how much we want to spend time with our family in this beautiful place, where we can disconnect from work and external pressures,â explains Marc.
From Minnesota to Mexico
For Bruce and Kathleen Pohlig, a retired couple living in Alexandria, Minnesota, living in a remote place is natural. Although they live 150 miles from Minneapolis and 100 miles from Fargo, North Dakota, the Pohligs became interested in the Loreto Islands in Mexico a few years ago. âIt’s just an extraordinarily beautiful peninsula with a small international airport,â says Bruce.
The couple, both 73, have been living in their island home since October 2020.
The houses in Danzante Bay cost approximately $ 450,000 to $ 650,000 for the lot and $ 1.6 to 2.5 million for the structure.
âIt’s just extremely peaceful here and we love being in a different culture,â says Bruce. âThis place is secluded and looks like the ‘anti-Cabo’ part of Mexico, with a safer, slower way of life.â
This article appeared in the September 2021 issue of Penta magazine.