Lots of people have converted old schoolhouses. But a typical 10,600 square foot midcentury box? That is another story. But that is what Alysa Hawkins and Jesse Parker did, according to Carolyn Ireland in the Globe and Mail. They sold their house in Toronto (where on the next page in the Real Estate section, a 15 foot wide townhouse on an ordinary street sold for $ 1,350,000) and bought the school in trendy Prince Edward County for under $ 200,000.
The gym became the combo living/dining/kitchen, each of the three kids got a classroom for a bedroom, and other classrooms have been converted into huge beautiful bed and breakfast suites. Oh, and they have eight acres of land and a baseball diamond.
I love this shot of the kids and dogs scootering down the corridor. (see all the great photos by Johnny C Lam in the Globe and Mail here). In their blog, they describe their new lifestyle lifestyle, "One that is less busy, more fulfilling and more sustainable."
The place may have been cheap but it was a lot of work, from dealing with sketchy plumbing to an oil furnace that cost C$38,000 to feed in its last year of operation. But after insulating, installing new windows and a radiant floor system they are warm and comfortable. They are growing much of their own food and even selling corn by the roadside. They are able to do all this with encouragement from the local politicians, who have instituted a "creative rural economy policy" that is really interesting and unusual: (Big PDF here)
The creative economy is focused on creative occupations and is industry agnostic. There are creative workers in all sectors of our economy beyond the stereotypical artists and musicians, and are thriving in businesses as diverse as agriculture, to video production, to niche manufacturing in Prince Edward County.
It has been hugely successful, as the County has become a hotbed of restaurants, wineries and artisanal cheesemaking. It also makes for a great story: the County and all of the villages in it were dying for decades, (one of the reasons that the school was available) and now you can barely get into it on summer weekends. This is not the only family that's packing up and moving there, but they are certainly the savviest real estate investors.