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Friday, 22 August 2014


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Mike, this is awesome!! I'm so happy for you!! The pupdogs must be besides themselves to have that yard to romp in. Enjoy your new home, you earned it. Best regards - Andrea B.

Congratulations, and great good luck.
New beginnings are full of possibilities.
They are like an anticipated New Chapter from your favorite author.
History gives us clues as to what it might contain, but we also look forward to a few surprises.
Take your time, enjoy the process.
Best Wishes,

Congratulations on the new TOP World HQ! And many happy years there!

Mike, let me offer my heartfelt congratulations. If you were in the DC metro area, I'd be banging on your front door to help with the painting (my first--and to date only--job with a boss was painting schools for Arlington Country about twenty years ago.)

PS: TYPO alert - in the first paragraph - wealth is missing its "l".

Ah, to be on the rural side of town in the Spring...when the winds are westerly and the adjacent farmland is fertilized.

To coin a phrase from Robert Duvall:

"Smells like...Dobbin!"

Glad you got the paperwork squared away, Mike. Enjoy the new digs.



Just to be clear -- I wanted a print, but I couldn't let myself spend that much at the time. I also wanted to support TOP, and I could do a small amount of that, and did.

Whew! I thought it would never happen but it's wonderful that it has. From the first photo and brief description it seems to be a really significant improvement and I'm sure you will benefit from the rural aspect.

Congratulations -nice house. Lots of grass (to cut) and trees (leaves to rake) - this should keep you healthy!

Important Notes Before Moving Into A New Space:
1. I am very glad to hear you are painting.
2. NOW, NOW I TELL YOU is the time to change out carpet, anything that requires any kind of demolition done, fix anything that needs attention.

You will be soooo muuuuuch happier if you tend to all of this before you move in.

Trust me on this..

3. Without discipline and a storage plan the new larger space will be full of "stuff" in the blink of an eye. This is a natural result of actively working on anything. Even writing seated at your computer causes "stuff" to appear and need to be stored. Therefore, think hard about shelves, cabinets, etc. etc.

Congrats Mike,it looks like a lovely house and area to live,I hope you enjoy many happy years there and look forward to sharing in your experiences in the new TOP headquarters.
Wishing you every good luck in your new abode.

Yippee yay!! Hooray for you. And many happy days living and working there.


Just: congratulations.

Thanks for so generously sharing your joy & peace with all of us: your "TOP family".

One of your well-wishing "siblings".

Well thank you, Mike, for sharing as much of your life as you have. What goes around comes around, and may this virtuous circle continue unbroken as you grow into your lovely new house.

I'm really happy for you Mike. Enjoy!

Looks wonderful, Mike! Well done!

Look at all that sumptuous green grass front and back to loll around on - and in. You'll be able to spend time outside sipping cool drinks between writing and moderating. And a fridge comes thrown in, too.

It must be very exciting, Mike.

I am happy for you Mike. Your post made me think about my travels from Chicago to Madison and back during the short time when I was a student at UW-Madison. I remember driving from the urban Milwaukee and environs into the beautiful rural scenery on the way to Mad City. Always an enjoyable ride. I hope the environs bring you peace, enjoyment and success!

Sweet! Love the double oven, you can make four frozen pizzas at once!

Well, Congratulations! Looks to be a lovely house, soon a home! Though personally I'd rather have a stove top in lieu of one of the ovens ... 8-)

Congrats, Mike, the house looks very sweet! I'm renovating an old schoolroom in Lebanon, NH to become my office & studio, and I'm very much looking forward to moving-in day (as opposed to creating-plaster-dust day, which is every day right now).


It looks like a lovely setting, and the house looks spacious and comfortable. I think you got a bargain (certainly by prices on this side of the world - Australia). I hope it fulfils your expections. Good luck with the hard part - managing to move the stuff you need and ditching the stuff you don't!

Congratulations, and for a price comparison, a house that size with that much land within commuting distance of the city in Melbourne, Australia would easily be twice as much, probably more.

That's a lovely house Mike. You've done very well. I particularly love the trees around it.

In Melbourne Australia I'd guess it would cost about $900,000 in the outermost suburbs (30 km or more from the city centre) and several million anywhere near the city.



Congrats. Very nice house and good for your dog(s). (not entirely sure how many you have as there have been pictures of several and I have not followed the dog related texts that closely).
And from where I have been living, dirt cheap. USA really is a good place to live.
In suburbs of Helsinki, Finland, house like that would cost something like 700,000-1million euros. In Malaysia, it would depend on the area, but in suburbs of the capital Kuala Lumpur it would cost about US$1-1.5million. Even in Sarawak state on Borneo island, and that is about as remote place as one can get, it would be about $5-800,000 if reasonably close to one of the bigger towns. In Singapore no one has that much land except the President in his state owned palace, but a house like that would easily be $3-5 million. In Bangkok, Thailand, maybe $1-1,5million.
To put it another way, which is easier to compare, with that list price you could get a two room apartment in Helsinki, a terrace house or small semi detached in Malaysia, a 3 bedroom apartment in Bangkok and if you search very carefully and are lucky beyond words, in Singapore you just might find a one room 350 sq ft apartment with that money.
I hope this makes you even happier because you really got a very nice place and excellent value for money.

Reads like a man freed of all restraint, for the 1st time, in a long, long time. Enjoy to the upmost, and stay on the high side...suits you well. A great spot for the pooches to boot.

($450,000 in Niagara Falls Ont.) $760,000 min. for Toronto)

Congratulations Mike. Your journey to this point has been interesting. Thanks for sharing it. Looks like a great house. Try to not overfill it.

Wow. Looks like Rancho Johnston! Good for you, Mike! I'm sure you'll love the new "HQ".

It is absolutely lovely. Just perfect. The biggest congratulations imaginable. I hope you live long and happy in your new home.

Congrats, Michael. Long may you wave.

Well in Bergen County, NJ you're talking at least 550k and with a big piece of property like that may be 650k.

Congratulations Mike, on your new home and office, from a long time reader.

I'd wager there aren't too many self-employed writers -- on the internet -- that make a living, let alone a good one. That puts you in a very elite club!

As a price comparison to Adelaide, Australia? Hmmm ... I don't have enough details about your place (e.g block size) but I'm sure it would be over $A400K.

Congratulations. You deserve it.

Lovely house, congratulations.

In Tacloban city proper, a 1-hectare (2.47 acres) lot would cost upwards of USD 3.8M (pre-Haiyan). To consolidate a contiguous lot that big will cost you much more. Outside city limits, raw land cost on average USD 100 per sq. meter (cheaper for beachfront property). Urban land prices in the Philippine archipelago are about the same.

In Singapore where only citizens can own land, a lot that big would have been bought up by the government upon which to build high rise apartment blocks for public housing, or luxury condominiums when bid out to private developers. Foreigners can own condos.

One benefit enjoyed by homeowners living in a continent is the ready availability of spacious residential lots. In densely-populated littoral Southeast Asia, a 500 sq. meter lot is considered huge. I guess this is true as well in Japan and the British Isles.

Congratulations, Mike! A hardworking and frugal living dude like you truly deserves the rewards of owning a beautiful and spacious home.

"Maybe a few readers who live in, say, Southern California...can provide context by estimating what a house like this might cost in their areas."

At your service, sir, from here in the land of fruits and nuts. First, the house's value cannot be estimated without consideration of the land. What you bought doesn't exist here. Residences are generally stuffed next to each other on 1/16 - 1/8 (huge!) acre lots. If one could find a ranch home like that on a parcel as large as yours appears to be, I'd say it would cost *easily* six times the list price you reported.

Congratulations! I'm very pleased to see you got what looks like hot water baseboard heat. You'll probably find it a pleasant change from the "scorched air" systems that unfortunately dominate this country. Enjoy!

In Singapore, this will cost you from USD$10 million if you could ever find one of this size available....

'Round here with that size of lot...
Northwest corner of Lake Ontario, Burlington, Ontario list would have been about C$1.5 million
easy. And what sells it is the lot. Taxes, would be about C$8-10,000/annum.

Theh ouse appear to be in good condition.
Was it inspected and being in a quasi-rural area is the sump pump and related in good order?
Roof looks good too, interior is spacious as well.

Standard expanded ranch style, assume with two vehicle garage.

Wired to main electrical panel smoke alarms, and ground fault breakers on electrical outlets in the kitchen. nathrooms, garage and basement?

Next time you move Mike, there shall be a tag around your big toe...

and thanks for the kind mention.

So where are you going to install the dog run?

So, when is the party and the free hooch? (You might consider doing it before the place is furnished, to cut down on possible vodka destruction).

It's hard to compare Wisconsin (or Minnesota, where I sold my house two years ago) to places like Southern California, New York City or San Francisco, for the reason that in those places, it's the LAND that's expensive, not so much the house. In much of SoCal, your yard would probably have three houses on it, not one -- unless it was in a condo area, and then there'd be 20 units on it. But if you could find a similar situation, say in a place like San Marino, Cal., just south of Pasadena, where people have mid-century houses and larger yards, your place would probably go for a million...and then the person who bought it would add another 2000 square feet to the house, one way or another.

People who live in fly-over country sometimes have a hard time communicating with people who live in, say NYC, simply because of housing. My NYC friends ask how you could possibly live in a place like Minnesota and not have all the cultural possibilities of NYC. I'd always say stuff like, "Well, there are things to do in Minnesota..." when obviously, that's fairly weak. What was much stronger is what you really can't say -- "How can the four of you possibly live 1200 square foot apartment with no lawn, no view, no anything, and still feel like a civilized human being? It's Iike living in a cave."

I can tell you exactly how much a comparable home would cost in Northern California (not SF), $750k if in need of major remodeling, up to a million if done right. In Tokyo, a comparable home does not exist. So sayeth the guy who just moved from Tokyo to a 1400sqft house in NorCal in need of major renovations. It's the price you pay to live in the land of few mosquitoes and essentially no winter.

Just at an educated guess, you might pay $800,000 or so for a house like that in Santa Cruz, CA. Possibly a lot more, depending on the exact neighborhood.


Congratulations on the new accommodations. It's exciting to move into a new space and it looks like a comfortable home. I'm a little concerned about the size of the back garden and the amount of time it's going to take away from TO{ duties, although the deck looks sized enough to host a good TOP gathering every once in a while.

I'm happy for you, Mike.


p.s. to my previous posy, I garden. I see lots of hostas in the back yard. Slugs and deer are your enemies. Take the bb gun to the deer, but the most effective anti-slug tool is stale beer (preferably very cheap beer. AKA "Old Milwaukee") in yoghurt cups. The suicide by the dozens.

Congratulations on the new TOP Secret headquarters, and your new home.

Dear Mike,

I am totally amazed that we pulled this off.

In a very, very good way.

pax / Ctein

What a beautiful home and yard, congrats!

At 60 rupees, roughly, to a dollar that's a terrific deal you got for yourself Mike. Congratulations.

Another thing, why would you want to sit and work from a basement when there are such lovely views to be had on the ground floor?

Congratulations Mike,

How about some 'before and after' photos. Let us see how the old TOP-HQ looked.

Greetings, Leslie Q.

Congratulations from the land of sunshine, traffic, and home grown citrus. If you could put your new house on a trailer and move it to Burbank, CA, it would easily fetch $800,000 as is. With some updates you could probably add an extra digit.

What a lovely home. I could myself imagine living my life there.
A bit jealous and very happy for you.

How about if I just say that a 3 bedrooms, 1400 sq ft, 6500 sq ft yard house, which will probably be torn down with something bigger being built, typically sells for $1.6-$1.8 millions currently? Wait another month, and that's another $100K...

Welcome to Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, where tech millionaires and Mainland Chinese are buying houses like that, in cash. Scary.

As the curt English saying goes: You lucky sod.

It looks great Mike, congratulations :-)

Congratulations on your move Mike! The new headquarters look great, and from here in London it looks like a bargain too. By way of comparison ... http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/londons-most-expensive-bedsit-mayfair-studio-room-will-set-you-back-999999-9653025.html - a $1.65m bedsit.

"a peaceful blue-gray"? I'd have thought you'd go with 18% gray. Anyway, congratulations on the new digs, it looks like a lovely place.

Wow - that would only buy a tiny one bedroom apartment in my part of the UK!


At a rough estimate a place like that would cost in the region of $2,000,000 here in Switzerland - and I live in a low cost area!

Looks perfect. What a shame you're going to be spending 18 hours a day in the basement, catching up on all your backlog to the TOP faithful! :-)

That's not an office, it's a lair!
I don't care what the external shots show, in my mind TOP world H.Q. will forever be secreted in the depths of a nameless American mountain.
Congratulations on your new home. I wish you many years of happiness there.
I look forward to seeing some nice snowscapes taken from the deck this winter. (Sorry to remind you!)

Happy new home!It looks just the ticket. While on the subject of tickets, for a house of that proportion with a garden like yours, here, on the doorstep of the UK's lake district, you'd be shelling out £750,000 or more depending on the location. We have Stamp Duty (Land Tax) here, so for instance £500,000 upto 1 Million you would have to pay 4% stamp duty on top of the purchase price! That would equate to £30,000 in my little scenario.

Many congratulations, Mike! That basement looks just about ready for a darkroom....probably after the riding mower!

A wonderful home and I hope you'll be very happy there. I did an approximate estimate that might well apply to the area I live in -Henley-on-Thames - and I think approx. $1.95m would be the asking price!

Congratulations, what a beautiful, and peaceful place!

Wow. That's quite a space. I am unlucky enough to work in the 'property sector' in Scotland. I would estimate that if you were to buy something that size with that much land on the edge of Edinburgh you'd be looking at £500,000 at least, possibly much more (that's sterling - north of $800k US). Quite a bargain in comparison.

A few comments and questions....

The storage room looks bigger than 11' x 11' on it's own! Does the square acreage of the house include the subterranean headquarters?

How old is the house, and how is it constructed? It appears to be part brick, part cladding. I can usually tell roughly how old houses are here, but I don't know the clues for US construction.

I was a bit surprised by one of your photos; I didn't think you were the sort of man to go in for bathroom selfies!

Where is the pool table?
Congratulations on your new home!

Well done Mike - as you know, I've been pushing you into such a move for some time. If you want to have a little perspective, for the price you have paid, you could just about MAYBE afford a small garage for a single car, in the place where I live. On the other hand, a 2.000sq ft. house with that kind of "cellar" and garden would probably cost in the range of 50 to 100 million USD, depending on the view... So enjoy what you got and long live TOP !

Congrats - I can really understand, how pleased you must be :-)

I live on the edge of Copenhagen, Denmark, and if it were in my neighborhood, that house would cost you one million USD. No joking.

Super! This is it, obviously. I am happy on behalf of you. Even the weather looks better at your new place. Re. the lawn mower due in 2019, are you planning to employ a goat in the meantime?
As a side note, please take it easy the coming week or so. I am sure all TOP regulars see the value of a quality HQ in the somewhat longer run.

No Mike, Thank you, for all you have brought to us. Good Luck! Look great

I'm happy for you! It's a big step; there is room to run circles around the office space. Don't let that lead to you collecting more crap to store there though ;-)

The living room really craves a wood floor and some nice lights, though you probably don't have any remodeling budget. I wonder about the patio doors -- do they really keep the cold out in the winter?

2000 sq.ft. is really huge though, was jsut thinking that I have a hard time imagining I would need more than 70 to 80 sq.m (~800 sq.ft) if I was living alone. The size of the house should indeed take care of the space problems.

So, you've the possibility of having a wet bar in the underground HQ of TOP?

You have enough room to set up a glorious sweet spot for the stereo...

In at least two rooms! I wish I had such an opportunity in my house, but baring that I do hope to come by some day with a few records tucked under my arm.

Congratulations Mike, you deserve every square foot of it for the many hours of joy you bring to the worldwide photography community. Looking forward to future posts from the new digs...

What a joyous post! It's a real pleasure to be squired about the new Headquarters and share the excitement. Thank you Mike.

(Poor old Freud …)

If there was an invitation there to compare properties transatlantically, then here it is. We live in a small bijou city in the Northeast of England, Durham. Our almost city centre house, with four bedrooms and an office, perhaps slightly larger than yours, would sell for about twice the price of yours. But it has absolutely tiny gardens/yards front and back. And a fair amount of traffic noise. So you may freely gloat.

Which reminds me of James Thurber's cartoon of 'a gloat in a field of I-told-you-sos'.

Congratulations Mike! It's a gorgeous and roomy house. In Madrid, Spain, you wouldn't be paying less than $700k for a similar property.

IKEA here I come!

Good for you bud!

So happy, happy, happy for you!!

Sincere, heartfelt congratulations to you! May the new place bring you more happiness and prosperity! Really happy for you.


P.S. I suspect you might get record number comments in these few days. :-)


This post has me wearing a grin for your happiness and new acquisition -- congratulations, indeed! You do realize that your reader's expectations have expanded along side that old 11'x11' command post. I know you'll do us proud.


I' d rather hear the story of your son's birth.

Looks awesome, glad everyone could help to make it happen!

This put a huge grin on my face – well done, Mike. There's a reason that people contribute, buy prints, use your Amazon links and love this site so much and it's down to the way you run it and the way you write. It's the best place on the web and long may it remain so. Congratulations!

Congratulations, and enjoy the emptiness while it lasts... It looks absolutely great!

Just wanted to say congratulations Mike - been reading TOP for years and it's great to see you've been able to make this happen. Coincidentally, when we moved into our house 2 years ago, we also painted the living room a shade of blue grey (a variant of French grey under the Behr umbrella).

For what it's worth, my wife and I purchased our ~1200 square foot 1968 bungalow for $397 000 CAD. 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath plus a finished basement. Detached 2 car garage on a ~50x113 suburban lot.

This is in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, not a terribly large or cosmopolitan city, but our province does have a fairly strong economy with the (in)famous oil sands way up north.

Unlike yours, it was an estate sale and nothing had been really upgraded in most of it's 44 life other than some lighting and carpet that we ripped out. I admit that large swaths of the american real estate market make us green with envy - to think how far our money could have gone if we lived in Wisconsin (or rather, how much less we could have spent for a comparable property!)

Many Congratulations, Mike!

Congratulations, Mike. A beautiful home / headquarters... and here hopes that it will bring, and house, nothing but even more beautiful things for you, your family, and TOP, in the years, decades to come. Congratulations.

Hearty congrats, Mike. Hope that you are happy and productive in what looks like a very comfortable place.

I'm so happy for you and Zander. Glad to have helped in some small modest way.

That new office is so big, you'll need to install an intercom system to summon your minions!

In Toronto, a house like that, with that lot, and assuming it was close to an arterial road, would go for 750K to 850K ($Canadian, aka 'Monopoly Money') and would be considered a tear-down.

Why? A lot of money from China is pouring into the Toronto housing market; well-off Chinese immigrants can't believe they can buy a 50x130 foot lot for **only $750,000!!** Such a property in greater Beijing or Shanghai would cost millions, and anyway would be reserved for Party insiders.

So the house would be torn down and replaced with a 5000 sq. ft. 'monster home' with rooms, doors and windows organized according to feng shui.

Great neighbors to have, by the way. But a basic starter housing market no longer exists in the city limits -- you have to leave town and get used to a long commute, or spend $350K on an 700 sq ft condo.

Another side effect of all the rebuilding is that plumbers, glaziers and roofers are also very expensive, and rare as hen's teeth.

CONGRATULATIONS!! Very nice digs. Particularly like the huge backyard, the landscaping and the deck. Man you earned it all.

I have a small house warming gift for you and the pups. I have had it some time, since you wrote about not being able to find any balls that were indestructible. These are balls your dogs are gonna love! And they will last forever, I promise.

Just need your new address to send them, or a PO box or whatever. I would like to mail em out next week, since I'm off to Portugal for a photo shoot trip, 9/4 through 9/19.

very best regards,

Congratulations and thanks for the update. Looks like a wonderful home. Your happiness is catching.

Yeah, yeah, nice house, great yard....

But where are the dogs?


Congratulations, Mike. It looks like a very nice home.

In fact, looking at that from our relatively small, poorly built apartment in one of the better and most expensive areas in Tokyo--Denenchofu---makes me long for the USA. I am wondering how many millions of dollars such a place would go for around here were it even possible to find anything like it. Look at that! A kitchen one can actually move in!

Congrats! Very happy for you!! Especially the happy part!

Splendificuous, dear sir! Congratulations!

It is outstanding.

Congrats on what appears to be an awesome house for your needs. However, you might have difficulty finding a wife that cooks until you get a REAL stovetop...


As a long-time browser of your site and zero-time commenter, I have followed your pursuit for a new HQ. This is great and I am truly delighted for you!

20 odd miles east of London 5 outside the M25 it is hard to find a similar house but going the other way for £156,000 the pound equivalent of what you paid would only just get you on the property ladder. For example this in my local area.
and this area is considered a cheap area!

Wow. This is a bigger deal than Photokina!

Fantastic Mike! So happy for you! All the best and many wonderful and happy years in your new place!

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