Owning a ranch versus sharing a ranch?  Buyers are “saddling up” to the benefits of shared ranch ownership.

In the age of Covid, with 60% of Americans working remotely, the idea of living in a remote place has turned into a property gold rush. Folks from coast to coast, especially in big cities like LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, & NYC, are moving to Montana – one community, Sun West Ranch, is a microcosm of the current “home on the range” movement.

“It’s been absolutely crazy, I’ve never seen anything like this in my business,” says Dawn Myrvik, a local real estate broker. “We’ve been showing properties here non-stop and the ‘shared ranch’ lifestyle is really capturing buyers’ interest.”

It’s a cool concept – if you want to live on a ranch with elk, antelope and bald eagles, where you can ride horses & go fly fishing on the Madison River, surrounded by snow-capped mountains – but you don’t want the 24/7 maintenance that goes with ranch life, this place lets you do both. The homeowners “share” the 1,600 acres of wilderness surrounding their homesites – while an on-site team takes care of the ranch year-round, maintaining miles of equestrian and hiking trails, stocking the spring-fed ponds, overseeing the stables, and providing security.

Susan Reese, owner of a successful property investment company in Dallas, swore she would never buy a second home. Why buy when you can rent a house whenever you want to get away. And why deal with the upkeep – especially of acres and acres of land. She holds up her house key and says, “this is all I need, they do everything else.” She even bought a horse (“Rainbow”) for her grandkids to ride when they visit. During one of those visits, more than 300 elk surrounded the house on a full moon night. “It’s a magical place – although they bugled all night long.”

Mike Doody is an OB-GYN from Knoxville. He uses one of his private planes to fly his family to their ranch – where he & his sons spend hours fly-fishing for trout on the legendary Madison River. “I’ll never sell this property — I’ll leave it for my children & grandchildren.”

Couples like Don and Anne Alstead live at Sun West year-round. “This isn’t for the person who wants to settle at a golf course property. It’s for people who want the laid-back ranch life experience, without all the chores.”

Another homeowner, Jarl Ulvin, a Norway native, says “In over 20 years of searching for property I have not seen a ranch that rivals the beauty here … you can walk out your door and experience open country that is untouched by human development.”

For some folks, binge watching the popular series “Yellowstone” with Kevin Costner or the “Big Sky” may be the closest they will ever get to Montana, but an increasing number of folks have been inspired to head West.

Sun West Ranch is in the Madison River Valley, about 40 miles from Yellowstone National Park. It’s a “Certified Undaunted Steward” which means the shared wilderness is protected from development for perpetuity to maintain the wildlife habitat, watershed and native plants.

“Buyers looking for natural beauty, privacy without being alone, and western vibrancy are finding this shared-ranch concept a viable option to owning a ranch,” added Myrvik.  “You can get away from it all without losing a sense of community.”