Should you live rural?

Not everyone wants to live in the country.  We had our first reaction from our realtor of all people.  I have to interject that she was not up to speed on interacting well with people we came to find out.  That’s not something you can determine up front when you are working with a realtor.  But  you don’t have to stick with that person if no contract was signed.  She happened to be the realtor who showed us the property we decided on buying.  Most realtors will be positive about the property and point out the good things; she seemed to be just the opposite. She just had not been in the business long enough, although she was a “mature” woman.  Her reaction to living in the country on 104 acres was “won’t you be scared at night all the way out here”.  My comment as I recall was “heavens, no”. 

So, can you expect everyone you know to be enthusiastic of your decision to live rural?  Probably not.  If they don’t like dirt, bugs, snakes, spiders, coyotes, skunks, racoons, mice, and the myriad wildlife the country brings, as well as the seclusion and distance from the city, then your friends may not visit often.  Be prepared to accept that you may have to trek to their houses in the city for a visit. 

And if you have children, take into consideration the inconvenience to activities, friends and their parents, who may not like driving all the way to your house to drop them off for a sleepover. Our kids were in Select Soccer clubs, baseball and basketball all through high school, so we really had to stay in the city so trips to practices and games were not lengthy.   

Will your kids be happy?  It would be my advice to wait to move until the kids are older, maybe after high school, which would give you more freedom to move from the city, unless they are willing to drop all their activities and start anew in their new community.  Going cold turkey on good friendships is harder for kids unless the move must  improve THEIR education and opportunities.

Environmental considerations in buying rural

When looking for a rural property it is easy to get too anxious.  Do a little checking out the community and surroundings. 

One area we were interested in and we did not buy, we found out later was heavily into some litigation with an area cement plant processor that apparently was in trouble for emissions and other stuff floating into the air and being environmentally unfriendly.   There was also a problem with water quality in the area and citizens were up in arms.  We had no clue.  A little homework would have possibly shown us those issues if we had decided to buy there.

Once again, go to the city hall and see their master plan and future projects.  If you want peace and quiet, make sure you will have it for a long time.

Rural Property: A buyer’s guide

1.  “NEEDS”:  We researched what we needed to know about buying a rural place  and made a list of all our requirements for buying a property. We would not settle for anything less. As it turned out, we only settled for “less” on one    item on the list, and that was not living near highways.  Turns out our property’s advantage is actually because it is accessible to so many rural connecting roads and highways.  Consider whether you have a business that depends on people coming to you.  Being near to a main highway is advantageous. You don’t have to live on it, just within an easy driving distance.  We are.

2.  BUDGET:  Of course we had our budget, and we had a house on 3 acres  to sell, and we were not in any hurry.  We did not put our house on the market until we found a place we wanted.  Be sure you don’t overextend yourself.  You can always “move up” later.  Make offers under the listing price. 

3.  FUTURE:  The next determination was what is the housing and growth indicators for a particular area.   We did not want to live somewhere that would be flooded with new home building and built out in a few years.  That had just happened to us.  Not a bad thing, but we wanted some distance from housing communities. Go to the city planners and see what’s on their master plan.

We also could see what communities focused on farms and agriculture.  And the communities who kept their countryside fairly neat and orderly without a lot of housing in disrepair or junked.  Good county maintenance should not be overlooked.  Regular road maintenance and mowing and trimming should be apparent. 

4.  COMMUNITY:  Another important consideration is medical facilities.  Doctors, dentists, hospitals, emergency support.  We felt better knowing they were not far.  Find out what school system you are in.  Our address is not in city limits and we are nearer another town so we are under that town’s school district.   Research the school system and it’s  ranking. 

5.  MUST HAVES:  Then you have to get down to a list of expectations for the property itself you want to buy.  There are lots of considerations.  Do some reading and make sure you know all the pros and cons.  The realtors will not always be knowledgeable.    It’s up to you to know that a dry gully running through the property means it carries water regularly. We found that out after going back to a property we were interested in after a rain and found water running all directions over the surfaces towards a nearby creek, it was overflowing and looking  more like a river. 

You must inspect your property during the week, on weekends, during the day, at night, and after rain.  It is most important to do this.  Will you be allowed to have a well?  Where does the water go in a torrential downpour?  Will your animals be safe in bad weather?  Your Realtor may not know.  Talk to the local USDA office; is the property registered with them? http://www.usda.gov/    Most ag properties will be.  Find out the history of the property. What limitations as to usage of the property?  USDA office can tell you.    What kind of predators are in the area? What kind of fencing will you need to install? We research to find out that alpacas and chickens have specific needs; we had to get rid of the barbed wire for those pastures and replace it.

As a result, it took lots of  weekend driving, but we were ready.  The kids were in college away from home and we had no weekend commitments.  I did all the research and assembled lists or properties we wanted to drive to.  We did not contact any realtors unless we found something we wanted to consider.    Logging into Realtor.com and lots of other real estate websites and  setting up searches so I would be notified of particular properties that met our criteria.  It did get frustrating after a period of time of not finding what we wanted.  After several months, we were able to fine tune our search to particular areas that we would want to live in.  That was very important. Driving all over, examining the towns and the countryside, was important research. 

After two years, the luck factor kicked in.  A property had been on the market for a long time and had not sold.  The owner decided to split up the acreage and sell them separately which meant the house and  104 acres was priced within our budget.  Well actually, it did stretch it somewhat, but it was a great deal and met our list of needs.  She sold her remaining 154 acres to someone else, and kept 100 acres.

So, after some frustration in not finding what we wanted for two years, we found exactly what we wanted.  It was worth the wait.  We are in a secluded area; all agriculture.  Our neighbors farm and they will not have housing developments.  We have a nice little town nearby with good schools, a grocery, a few restaurants, bank, fire dept. and police  a few minutes away and we belong to the Chamber of Commerce and the Caddo Mills Historical Society.  Greenville is the closest large town about 15 minutes away that has everything else we need that ours does not, plus a great refurbished downtown square, as well as hospitals, doctors, dentists, etc, and a junior college, a mall,  and lots of businesses and restaurants, hotels, and community arts.

It pays to take your time and do your research before moving to the country. Make a “needs” list and stick to it the best you can and you  will find your perfect place.

My wonderful veggies

Tomatoes and green peppers
Tomatoes and green peppers

I had only tomatoes last year and got enough to keep us eating fresh tomatoes into November from a couple of plants.    This year I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy.  I have realized I planted them too close together and so at some points during the day they are shading each other.  I will change that next year.

I did not have green peppers last year but we use them alot and they are expensive.  Right now they are going for over $1.50 EACH at the market.  I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy too.  Possibly I even planted them too close so I will space them out better next year.  

green peppersJuly green peppers

 

I have raised beds that came with the place, but we plan to add some more since we have some of our old fenceposts stacked and stored we can use.

Here are some before and after pics.  I planted after the last big freeze at Easter; the cool weather and rain in the spring I think slowed down the growth and the vegs weren’t ready to pick until June.  As the weather cools into the fall they should start another growth spurt.

late spring tomatoes

late spring tomatoes

summer tomatoes

Is it just luck?

IMG_0041 

If it is fate or just good luck, we have found that being patient pays off.  If you don’t have to hurry and buy something, whether it’s a new car or a piece of land, sometimes fate gives you what you want, and more. 

Ten years ago our van was on the brink of falling apart.  We had driven it well for ten years and it was a good investment.  Now it was time to replace it.  We looked and looked at vehicles. We even almost signed paperwork on a vehicle but the salesman was just not consistent in the final numbers; they kept changing along with the interest rate.  We walked out, papers not signed.  A week later I got a call that I had won a Saturn LS in a  contest and I have had that car now for ten years and it is still wonderful and looks like new.  I was able to choose what I wanted and got the superdeluxe with leather, sunroof, sound system, etc., etc.  It has exceeded all my expectations with great gas mileage to boot, usually around 30 mpg.  My daughter bought herself a sporty Saturn 3-door coupe a year after I got mine and also has had an excellent experience.

It is sometimes mind boggling to think about ever moving to the country.  It was for us.  We didn’t know anything about it.  I started to write here about how we found ours, and it turned into a minibook.  So next week I will break out the steps, one each day, to talk about.  My-husband-the-architect thankfully has knowledge about what it takes to design and build a great house, we designed and built our last one.  However, we didn’t know anything about buying land to raise animals on or maintain pasture.  There are some important considerations before buying.

We have found that patience, research, and “needs” lists, help make a wise and lasting purchase decision.  In these economic times, spending wisely is  so important.  Next week I will try to outline some considerations, as well as some handy resources.  It is not impossible to find your place.

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