Wanna buy a castle?
Before answering the question, make sure you're aware of just what a castle actually is. It isn't Disney World. Real castles have stairs and stones, and they are more than a little pastoral. Think Cinderella before she met her prince.
In short, it ain't the Hyatt.
Still interested? OK. For less than a million bucks, you can have your own five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot castle in Oak Glen, CA. The home may come with quirks, but it's got plenty of plusses. Here's what you need to know before crossing the drawbridge.
1. Even kings don't live like kings
Real castles aren't the haven of luxury you might imagine: Their rounded walls aren't suitable for a gallery.
Plus, five floors of winding stairs require serious fitness, so unless granny's a triathlete, she won't be visiting.
"Everybody goes out there, and they go, 'ooh, I'm gonna buy this castle,'" says J.R. Allgower, the listing agent.
Most people intrigued by the castle concept think luxury. If you have a moat separating you from the plebes, you'll be royalty, clad in velvet robes and dozing betwixt silk sheets. But the king or queen lifestyle isn't a snap.
"It's not a high-end home -- it's rustic," Allgower says. "The house is adequate. There's nothing wrong with it. But people think it's going to be this luxurious place. No, it's not! I don't know what you think you're gonna get here."
2. … But they do live pretty well
Just because the home isn't a luxury abode doesn't mean it's not pretty sweet. The owner (also the home's engineer) went all out in its construction. "It cost $2.1 million to build the damn thing," Allgower says. Priced at $999,000, "it's probably one of the best buys around."
Allgower loves the two-story great room, with its fireplace and large windows. The thematic decor includes swords over the windows, large tapestries, and pennants above the hearth.
"That room is just wow," he says. The estate features other authentic details. Outside, you're protected from invading hordes by walls, a moat, and a drawbridge.
On the 7.5-acre grounds, potential buyers will find a pond, a stream, grapevines, a pine grove, and fruit trees.
It's not a beachfront in Malibu, but it's still special.
3. Who needs AC when you have stone?
When you're right on the edge of the San Bernardino National Forest -- a place that easily reaches triple-digit temperatures during the summer -- staying cool is a priority.
"You've got the best insulation in the world," Allgower says, referring to stone. The castle's entire faade was made from cut stone blocks, which regulate the interior temperature. "Inside, the temperature doesn't change. It could be 107 degrees, 108 degrees here, but you'll get a nice breeze. You don't even need AC."
4. Entrepreneurs: There's a built-in business -- and success afoot
Have you always dreamed of running a successful wedding venue? Couples will flock to your forested castle, which offers European views without the expense of several dozen plane tickets.
Currently, the property can host up to 10 weddings per year, which each bring in about $3,000.
But if you're willing to put in the time and effort to make the place picture-perfect -- and get a permit from the city -- it could easily become a profitable venue. Many brides-to-be can imagine taking pictures by the pond, hidden away in the grove. Or hosting a fabulous reception on the lawn, with a castle in the background.
You're already halfway there. The property's large stone barn has water and electricity, making catering a breeze -- you'll just need to bring the marketing know-how and the blushing brides.
5. It's the perfect place to get away from it all
Not a party person? You can find privacy here. Unless you're seeking it out, company won't find you at this reclusive property, which is located about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. The road stops here -- literally. "There's nothing past it," Allgower says, making the place great for "somebody who wants to be away from people."
Once the castle gates are sealed, you're completely alone -- but you won't be lacking in views. Who wouldn't want to survey their land from their very own tower? You've got it! It's a little room located at the top of the home's five flights of stairs.
"At night, you have this beautiful breeze coming through," Allgower says. "You can see forever. It's very peaceful."
And what could feel more regal?
The owner "built it because his dream was to be king of the castle," Allgower says.
Forty years later, it's time for a new regime.