For years, and especially during the pandemic, lakefront real estate throughout Maine has boomed as urbanites and suburbanites, especially from the wealthier greater Portland area, seek peace and quiet for their weekend and vacation retreats.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

Generations of Mainers have looked to lakeside camps in the Lakes Region and elsewhere for solace, but that solace is now a thing of the romanticized past as lake life has become unaffordable, dense, overtaxed and overregulated.

Having lived on two lakes in southern Maine, I’ve learned much about lake life and can tell you it’s overrated. Here are 20 reasons why:

1. High taxes. Towns seek to cash in on lakeside homeowners by imposing high shoreland zoning tax rates.

2. Thanks to the “open land tradition,” which is unique to Maine and allows for access to lakes over private, unposted land, someone can legally use your lakeside property at any time to access the water.

3. Lakefront property owners think they’re buying peace and quiet, but noisy boats and jet skis ruin the mood.

4. Housing density along Maine’s lakefronts has burgeoned with homes built mere feet from other homes, meaning you can’t but hear your neighbors’ conversations and music.

5. Thanks to former Gov. Paul LePage, explosive fireworks have lit up the night sky above Maine’s lakes for years now, sometimes on a nightly basis if towns allow it.

6. Rodents. If you’ve ever lived in a lakeside home, you know about the water rats and mice that proliferate along the water’s edge and can infest basements and wall cavities.

7. With most lakeside camps located along private roads, road associations are needed to care for the road, meaning your weekend retreat just landed you a seat on the association’s board of directors as well as yearly dues.

8. Because of Airbnb and VRBO rentals, you never know who your neighbors are or what they’re capable of at 2 a.m.

9. Noisy loons. Sure it’s nice to hear a distant loon but if that loon nests in front of your house, get ready to lose sleep.

10. Lakeside homeowners are always the first to know when mosquitoes and black flies hatch. Get the citronella ready!

11. Constant septic system and oil tank vigilance is required. Lakeside homeowners can impact the abutting water body – and reap financial penalties from state authorities – if their systems leak.

12. Before buying, choose between sunset and sunrise views. You can’t have both. And good luck affording homes with those idyllic sunsets.

13. Better not cut those trees, allow unimpeded stormwater run-off or otherwise run afoul of the shoreline zoning law set up in 1971, or the state, as well as the many private lake monitoring organizations, will make you regret it.

14. Hope you like hauling in and out the boats as well as docks each season.

15. Don’t forget to keep up with the Joneses. To avoid ostracism or glaring looks from neighbors, you must make your camp resemble the home and garden magazines.

16. Despite the money it costs, you can most likely only visit your camp during warm months due to road access and home insulation concerns.

17. Death by drowning is a real possibility. And don’t let your toddler wander off.

18. Most lakeside camp access roads are dirt; I hope you enjoy dust covering everything inside and outside your home during dry spells.

19. And every time it rains, you have to hire someone to regrade the road to fix those pesky potholes.

20. Finally, with the average homeowner priced out of the southern Maine market, you have to drive farther away to find an affordable camp. But by the time you arrive you have to turn around and drive back home again so you can return to work to earn the money your lakeside retreat requires.

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