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<p>We're looking to buy a rural property, perhaps of about 5-10 acres just outside of the city because internet's important for work so we don't want to be too far out. The idea is to get back to basics as far as possible, so I'm not looking for a very expensive place with amazing bathrooms and kitchens etc. We need internet everyday for work. We may have chickens or a very few dairy goats or cows, but that's about it. Perhaps a horse when the kids are grown. I'm hoping for one more kid this year (I have 3), so a big old home would be nice. A funny question but... is there anything I should be looking for as far as the layout of the place goes, ie north, south, east or west facing homes? Or, features of the house? Have you had second thoughts about the rural home you purchased due to any reasons you'd like to share? Do you think a pond is good? Any advice to give about septic systems? Can woodstoves adequately heat bigger homes, like around 2000 sq ft. I like the idea of living small and minimally, but we are homeschooling and seem to accumulate tons of books, art supplies etc. Would you prefer an older home, or would it be nice just to buy a new, home all insulated etc. </p>
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<p>One day I suppose we'd like to go solar. </p>
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<p>Thanks a lot. Any advice would be appreciated as we will be very much learning as we go along. </p>
 

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<p>The thing with going rural is that your income will have to determine what is doable for you, as well as your time.</p>
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<p>Older homes, that needs a bit of renovating, might be very tempting to buy for someone looking for a big place since often they tend to be a lot cheaper to buy than newly built/newly renovated houses. The problem is that as romantic as it sounds, getting an old house and slowly bringing it back to life again, there are a lot of things that costs quite a lot to fix such as needing to replace the roof, or the electrical wiring (which at least here in Sweden requires a professional to do it, because of insurance issues).</p>
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<p>It is very easy to imagine yourself with hammer and nails, your husband with a paintbrush, your children gleefully playing with the new kitchen door knobs when imagining restoring an older house. Instead imagine having to get up on the roof, in the middle of an icy winter, to try to figure out why there is water dripping down into the kitchen from the ceiling, or for that matter being without hot water to shower in for two weeks because you are waiting for the water heater to be replaced.</p>
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<p>Unless you have money to spare, and know you can continue to put something little aside each and every month, getting an older home is not something I suggest. Yes, you can learn to fix most things yourself to keep maintenance costs down. Yes, it needs not be expensive overall to renovate an older home. But the thing with an older home is that it sometimes does not let you decide what should be done when and therefore, if you buy an older home to try to save money please think again.</p>
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<p>When first your heating source, then your fridge, then the stove and then the roof all needs replacing within the same month, no warranties left...what do you do?</p>
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<p>That is something to consider with an older home. That even if it is cheaper to buy initially, you must be able to spend the money that needs spending straight away if need be.</p>
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<p>Anyhow, as for the rest...</p>
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<p>Please consider what your motives are for wanting to go rural very, very carefully. Think about how it will impact your everyday life in the way of how you would need to spend your hours. Getting two goats might sound great, until you consider you will at least need to spend an hour a day doing goat related things, everything from feeding and watering them to milking them and then cleaning up you milking equipment. Not to talk about the fact you will need to somehow take care of the milk you get everyday. And have someone that can come and babysit your animals when you want to travel anywhere be it just for a weekend or for longer time. Same thing with chickens, or beehives. They take much more time from your day than you would assume. Wonderful time, if you like that kind of thing, true. But still time that you might not have if you consider everything else you might want to do, such as working and homeschooling your children, having time for playdates, picking up groceries etc.</p>
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<p>Do consider what it is you really want to achieve by going rural.</p>
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<p>Is it to get away from the city? Then perhaps 1-2 acres of land will do the trick. Just enough for a proper vegetable garden and some chickens, and a lawn for the children to play on. It will also keep costs down, to not buy more land than what you will really need.</p>
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<p>To me it sounds as if you are not planning to become self sufficient. That you want to keep your job, to have a secure income etc.? It really means you should focus on the house itself, and not the land since the land and animals would be more of a hobby than a life line. What is it you need in a house?</p>
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<p>In my case, a large kitchen with room to move about is a must. A linen closet is very nice, for all kinds of towels and cleaning supplies. Especially with a lock to keep little children out of it, as is a pantry. Since you are buying a house for a growing family, I would make sure the rooms are plenty big so that they can be remodelled into smaller rooms should the need arise in the future.</p>
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<p>When it comes to heating your home of course woodstoves would work. They have in the past and they still do. It is just a question about placement, number etc. Though, central heating run on wood would be my preferred choice because of less work (just one furnace to feed) and more even heat in the whole house.</p>
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<p>Anyhow, just a few things to think about.</p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Well I guess my answer would be opposite of Lovesong, so I think that right there shows you this decision is really a matter of personal choice.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">We live on about 5 acres in a house built in the late 1700's. I love living in an old home, but our house is not dilapidated. Maybe it's because we have such a large number of old homes in New England that it's not too hard to find decent old homes. If you do look at older homes getting a good inspector is a must. We would not have considered a house where we would need to replace all the wiring or such. Yes, our roof is coming to the end of its life, but then again so is my sister's house built in the 1990's. Our house is solid with beautiful features not found in new homes and has a new kitchen. On the other hand the bathrooms are old and we had to remove wallpaper/paint every room. Yes, we spent a lot of time updating the home, but we would rather be fixing up the house or property than spending our weekends going out or shopping. But this is us, we are more homebody kind of people and get a great feeling of satisfaction from this.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">As for your other questions...</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Home orientation: Since our house is old it was oriented to get maximum winter sun. This is great for warming us up, but that's not even something we would have worried too much about.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Wood stove: depends on your weather. A wood stove can keep a fairly good sized house warm, but the temp will be variable. We primarily use fuel, but many of our neighbors use their woodstoves a a major heat source. Plus trees are plentiful here, elsewhere if you had to pay for firewood??</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Pond: Would have loved one, but it is very wet here and now I kind of think that might be a problem unless it is very far from the house. Maybe if we didn't have a basement I wouldn't worry.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Septic and Wells: No problems here. Again good inspector, you really want to know the age and condition of these. And budget the money to get the maintenance pumping done so they stay in good condition. Our well and septic are both fairly new despite the home's age which was a selling point. </span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Animals: It always scares me when people start to want animals, but you are in no rush so that's good. I grew up with horses which I loved, but they are a load of work and I wouldn’t consider them now. I think animals are a great idea if you approach it slowly, but if that is your goal then it’s good to think about that when looking for a home. We are zoned for animals and have a fabulous barn, but do not plan on getting anything soon. Our first goal was to put in all the garden beds and fix the house up before so we're not overwhelmed.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">My final thought is to consider your services. You say you're looking just outside a city so this might not be a problem for you, but services are essential. We live within 15 minutes of 2 groceries, drugstores, a few places to eat, banks, libraries, etc..... We looked at other homes not that far from where we live, but that would have been around 30min or more for some of these.</span></span></p>
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<p>Originally Posted by <strong>Lovesong</strong> <a href="/community/t/1342929/rural-properties-any-advice#post_16845078"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a></p>
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<p><strong>Do consider what it is you really want to achieve by going rural.</strong></p>
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<p>Is it to get away from the city? Then perhaps 1-2 acres of land will do the trick. Just enough for a proper vegetable garden and some chickens, and a lawn for the children to play on. It will also keep costs down, to not buy more land than what you will really need.</p>
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<p>and YES, YES, YES to this. This is the most important thing to keep in mind.</p>
 

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<p>We live very rurally and love it...one of the best things to me is that our water comes from a spring. No chlorine, flouride or anything else added. It is gravity flow so when the power goes out (or if the sh*t hits the fan) we will still have good water. Having a plentiful supply of good water is key when looking at rural property. Would not hurt to test the water before you buy either.</p>
 

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<p>I live with one foot in each world right now.  We live in a small town and have rather remote (30 min to the store) cottage where we spend a lot of time.  </p>
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<p>I grew up in a very rural, agricultural area and I strongly second every thing in Lovesong's post.  We lived in two different circa 1800s farm houses and holy cow, do I ever remember a constant stream of frozen pipes, leaking roofs, drafty windows!  I am a lover of old homes but you really, really, really need to go into an old home purchase with your eyes wide open.  My parents moved to a brand new house when I was in high school. </p>
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<p>Being that we had problems with wells and septic systems at every house I lived in, I will chime in about these.  Well water can be fantastic or horrible depending on so many factors.  Hard water may require a water softener and high sulfur is VERY unpleasant yet the systems needed to remove the sulfer run in the thousands, I have lived with both.  Drought as well as changes in the water table may result in the need to drill a new well, which can be no big deal or a very big deal - I remember my dad needing to drill a new well at the "new" house.</p>
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<p>When septic systems go bad, they go really bad!  The one at my parent's last house collasped after 15 years.   Definately get it inspected before you buy AND educate yourself on local regulations in case you would need to replace it down the road.  For example, it is next to impossible to get a permit for a standard septic in my area as most municipalities have very strict regulations.  Any new systems must be the sand-mound variety, which start around $20,000.   No saying this to scare you, just offering it up in case you don't have experience.  My husband never lived anywhere that didn't have public sewer until we bought a late-1800s cottage.  The whole septic tank thing was completely new to him. </p>
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<p>I love the look of ponds but I think they are better in theory/dreams than in reality.  We had one on our property that was spring fed and full of fish.  I used to love feeding them but the entire area around the pond was so wet and boggy, I would sink in up to my ankles.  I have a friend that has a huge pond with a dock and a swimming platform.  When they bought the house, her dream was to swim in it all summer.  The very lively water snake population ended that after a few close encounters.  Ponds with little water movement sometimes require treatment to keep the "scum" down during warmer months.  (There are natural ways to manage those issues.)</p>
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<p>Ramzubo brings up a good point about services.  I lived more than 30 minutes from any grocery store/drug store, rode the bus 45+ minutes to school each way (I see the OP homeschools but distance for any other activities might be an issue).  My parents communted between 30-60 minutes each way.  Those distances shape one's lifestyle, which can be a good thing if you are looking for isolation or it can be like a prison if you can't run back into town because of the cost of gas.  Start your search by considering how much driving you are willing to tolerate.</p>
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<p>Gosh, thank you SO much for these detailed responses. I will keep re-reading them. There's much to think about. No doubt I'll have more questions later. Thank you.</p>
 

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<p>Wow- around here there are like 2 acrerages for sale- so if you want one you just take what you can get I think!  It would be awesome to have a lot to choose from!<br>
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<p>We don't really have a choice in where we live- but I will tell you our experience regardless.  Our house was built I believe in 1905.  I don't know what if anything is original- but our windows are weird and expensive and are barely hanging on.  I siliconed them all and cover with plastic in the winter.  Sucks but until we decide what we want to do- the only solution.  We had no insulation when we moved in.  We put about $1500 in the attic and it made a big improvement.  We would love to do the walls- but they are plaster and then there is the window situation and siding and I think burning it down and starting over would be better :)  </p>
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<p>Obviously we have a well- which while safe in Nitrates and Bacteria has an insane amount of sulfur which is just 100% nasty. I buy our drinking water.  In Iowa at least if you buy a house the septic has to be up to code- which usually means totally replaced- so I wouldn't really worry about that.</p>
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<p>Our acreage has 2 barn, a shop, and various out buildings and bins.  It is awesome.  We have a grove and plenty of pasture for my 5 cows.  Our kids have room to free range and I have all the space I would ever care to have in a garden.  This spring we are planting an orchard.  </p>
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<p>As far as layout goes- ours is all pieced together- 100 years of additions and enclosing the porches will do that I guess!  Really a personal preference.  We do have amazing detailed woodwork... </p>
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<p>As far as the pond- yuck.  Mosquitos.  A creek is ideal I think- but then again you would have to be lucky to happen across all that you want. My boys love tromping around the creek....</p>
 

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<p>We're looking to buy a rural property, perhaps of about 5-10 acres just outside of the city because internet's important for work so we don't want to be too far out. The idea is to get back to basics as far as possible, so I'm not looking for a very expensive place with amazing bathrooms and kitchens etc. We need internet everyday for work. We may have chickens or a very few dairy goats or cows, but that's about it. Perhaps a horse when the kids are grown. I'm hoping for one more kid this year (I have 3), so a big old home would be nice. A funny question but... is there anything I should be looking for as far as the layout of the place goes, ie north, south, east or west facing homes? Or, features of the house? Have you had second thoughts about the rural home you purchased due to any reasons you'd like to share? Do you think a pond is good? Any advice to give about septic systems? Can woodstoves adequately heat bigger homes, like around 2000 sq ft. I like the idea of living small and minimally, but we are homeschooling and seem to accumulate tons of books, art supplies etc. Would you prefer an older home, or would it be nice just to buy a new, home all insulated etc.</p>
<p>One day I suppose we'd like to go solar.</p>
<p>Thanks a lot. Any advice would be appreciated as we will be very much learning as we go along.</p>
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<p>We live on 60+ acreas, just outside a very small mountain town in Washington state. We have meadows and trees. Views to die for and wildlife everywhere.</p>
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<p>Dh and I never even considered buying an existing home. We didn't want to deal with having to upgrade construction (insulation, windows, lead paint, pipes, etc), wells or septics, houses designed in ways we didn't like (or, were too old) or in areas we weren't interested in.</p>
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<p>We designed and had our home custom-built during the year before we married (broke ground in Jan. 1996, dh moved-in July and we married in Sept.). It is everything we wanted in a house. It is entirely handicapped-accessible. Neither of us needed this, but we plan on living here until we die and it is easier to start this way rather then retro-fit a home later. We have a loft (accessible by stairs) that is situated in such a way that we could put in an elevator if we needed.</p>
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<p>The main house has a central electric furnace, but use a wood stove for our primary source of heat. Our main house is over 3100 sq ft. Our sunroom (20' x 25') is separate from this sq. footage (but, it is attached to the house, with entry through our guestroom) and heated by water pipes under the floor tiles. We also have a separate 3-room (bed, living/kitchen, bath)guest cottage with baseboard heaters.</p>
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<p>We installed (30) 5'x8' solar panels last summer to augment our power (hopefully, we'll be adding more panels next year and be off the grid). The difference to our power bill is terrific. If you want to go solar someday, check and see if there are solar companies nearby. We ended up dealing with a company over 125 miles away (one-way). They were kind enough to take our job, but only because we paid for their hotel bills. Be aware, solar can be expensive (our system cost around $40,000).</p>
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<p>There are two septic systems (one for the main house and one for the cottage). We have two wells (each cost in excess of $35,000 because of depth). The type of geology in the area is an important point.  Uranium is found in granite, so water can be contaminated by this.  Make sure to have the water tested at any property you consider (and, get it tested regularly from then on!).  We also put in two underground cisterns, so water is always available, even if the power goes out.  Septic systems and wells should never be near one another!</p>
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<p>A sprinkler system has helped conserve water (we don't have a huge lawn, just a green space for fire protection). Our garden and orchard are on drip irrigation, which helps save water, as well. The garden and orchard are surrounded by a 10' fence, necessary here because of deer.</p>
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<p>Southfacing, imo, is a biggie. Sun coming in the front of the house in the winter is so important. Our house faces to the south and we have sun streaming in during the shortest (clear) days of the cold months.</p>
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<p>If you are planning on having animals, they will need shelter. So, a barn or some other structure is important. You'll need a place to store their food, as well. Fencing will come into your finances if you have animals. Make sure there are vets in the area that are recommended by others with the same animals you have. Do they make house calls? If not, you'll need a trailer.</p>
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<p>Is there wildlife where you are planning to move (bear, coyotes, cougar)?? You'll need to protect your livestock and realize the chances exist that your stock or pets might end up as dinner. Can you deal with this possibility?</p>
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<p>Ponds are nice, but will you be able to maintain it (stagnant water attracts mosquitos and the county can force you to spray it if there are concerns). Running water is terrific (creek/stream or river). But, be aware you cannot do anything to the water to divert it for your own use without having special permits (difficult to obtain). So, damming/diverting running water is a no-no.</p>
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<p>Will any neighboring properties use sprays on crops or have animals that have access to any water coming onto your prospective property (manure issues)? Important things to consider!</p>
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<p>For internet, you might have to purchase a dish of some type. Call the providers in your area of interest and see what they offer/prices/availability.</p>
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<p>Keep in mind that they have satellite internet, so you don't necessarily have to be close to a town to have internet.  We are WAY rural, and we have internet through HughesNet. <br>
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<p>We lucked out when we found our property, even though we looked for a year and looked at TONS of properties in a bunch of different areas (the whole eastern part of Nebraska and western part of Iowa, and pretty much all of Missouri concentrating on the Columbia and Springfield areas).  We finally found an 8 year old, 1800sqft, VERY well built home on 5 acres with a gorgeous view of the Ozark Mountains, for only $125k.  As I said, though, we are very rural, and it isn't the most beautiful HGTV style house, but it's still great and serves us well.  We have one big kitchen/dining/living room, a separate laundry room that is big enough for a pantry and a horizontal deep freezer, and all of the bedrooms are HUGE.  Our house is a partial earth berm (1/2 of the back and one side of the house are under ground), which serves well as a storm shelter, and it also keeps that part of the house cool in the summer.  I LOVE the full length covered porch, and in the summer I sit out there a lot. </p>
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<p>The closest grocery store is 30 min away, and the closest Walmart and Target are almost an hour away.  Our closest neighbor is 1/4 mile away.  You adjust to the time it takes to get places, and plan your shopping trips and meals accordingly.  It also depends on whether or not you need to be near a town to go to work, or if you don't mind driving that far each day.  I'm a SAHM, but my husband works about 30min away.  It doesn't bother him, though.  I love it here, and have ZERO regrets.  This is exactly what we were looking for, and while it was an adjustment coming from a city of a million people, we knew what to expect so there have been zero surprises.   </p>
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<p>A pond is helpful if you plan to have animals like a cow/horse/goats, simply so you don't have to supply water, but if you don't then it isn't necessary.  I completely agree with the PPs, animals (even goats) take a TON of work.  If anything, start small with chickens.  Goats are <em><strong>very</strong></em> destructive, and most can get out of almost any fencing, so keep that in mind.</p>
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<p>Our propane tank broke down a couple weeks ago, and it took about a week to get a new one.  In the mean time, we kept our house heated with three space heaters, and our house was warmer than it was with just propane, so I def think a wood stove would keep it plenty warm.  (It was a fairly warm week though, so I don't know how well that would have worked if it was cold out.)  Our neighbors have only wood heat and their house is always roasting when we go over there.  As for older or newer home...an older home is going to be VERY inefficient to keep it heated and cooled, so you will be spending more money to do so.  A newer, better insulated home will be cheaper to do those things. </p>
 

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<p>One poster mentioned <strong>building new</strong>, which can be great, but well/septic/utilities are a *huge* investment!  Roadwork is also a lot of money spent that gets siphoned away with how much you get to spend on the house. </p>
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<p>5-10 acres is really not that much, so you'll want to consider <strong>what of the trees, view, etc. around you you control</strong>.  If you love a property because it is surrounded by grand old trees and those trees are not yours, you need to keep that in mind.  Conversely, the neighbors can let their trees grow huge and spoil the access to sun and view.  So, if you love the property, make sure it is based on things you *can*control!</p>
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<p><strong>Ponds</strong> are lovely, mosquitoes can be dealt with by stocking carp and ducks and encouraging frogs and things.  Building one is expensive and--this is something most people don't consider-- building one tears up at least twice as much ground as the pond itself occupies.  Not a bad deal if what you are buying is mostly pasture, not so great if you want a pond near the forest.  And where is all that excavated dirt going to go?  My close neighbors built this awful pond that is tiny with huge berms on all sides.  It looks like a manure settling pond and is about as inviting (they love it-- whatever!)  You can build gorgeous ponds, there are so many great books out there, but it is a lot of work and expensive even if you do it yourself.</p>
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<p>As far as <strong>internet</strong>, unless you have high expectations most phone companies now offer internet service (not dial-up) through the phone lines.  That's what we have here in our little town, and on our property across the river.  It is only 1.5mbps, but for all my purposes it gets the job done and seems fast enough for me, but my needs are much less than other folks.  A little doohickey goes on every phone jack that allows you to use the phone and the computer at the same time.  Pretty reasonable, I think, and it costs me about $30/mo.</p>
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<p>If you are "in the land of pines" then <strong>solar</strong> might be a good fit.  Would you be considering off-grid or -on?  Solar is still expensive, though several of our neighbors love theirs.  We decided against it because we live in the PNW and on a forested property and even with full exposure we would be running the generator in the winter!</p>
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<p>I like that my property has some good, hilly <strong>topography</strong>.  That allows us to have cisterns up the hill.  We are having the well pump into those (very slow well) and a metal roof catches all our ample rainfall and fills up the tanks, too, so in winter we might not have to run the well at all.  I also like it because it makes 10 acres seem much bigger.  </p>
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<p>Of course, be wary of properties near rivers because you might have to deal with <strong>flooding</strong> (a big deal in our region), and with a small acreage you just couldn't own enough property to get away from that.  Of course, low-lying pasture nestled amongst hills can also get pretty soupy at times, too, so flooding issues are not restricted to river valleys.  In pine woods, you need to consider <strong>forest fires</strong>.  </p>
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<p>Lastly--<strong>work</strong>!  How are you planning on supporting yourselves?  If you have an existing job, how far is the commute?  How often do you need to get to town?  If a key creek floods regularly, does it block your <strong>access</strong> to the road?  (Again, from someone living in Floodsville.)  You need to be realistic about these things when considering a property.</p>
 

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<p>Originally Posted by <strong>SweetSilver</strong> <a href="/community/t/1342929/rural-properties-any-advice#post_16880800"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br>
As far as internet, unless you have high expectations <strong>most phone companies now offer internet service (not dial-up) through the phone lines</strong>.  That's what we have here in our little town, and on our property across the river.  It is only 1.5mbps, but for all my purposes it gets the job done and seems fast enough for me, but my needs are much less than other folks.  A little doohickey goes on every phone jack that allows you to use the phone and the computer at the same time.  Pretty reasonable, I think, and it costs me about $30/mo.</p>
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<p><span style="color:#0000cd;">This depends on where you live, b/c we live too far out to get this service.  Had we lived about a 1/4 mile closer, we would have been able to get high speed cable internet.</span> </p>
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<strong>Of course, be wary of properties near rivers because you might have to deal with flooding (a big deal in our region), and with a small acreage you just couldn't own enough property to get away from that.  Of course, low-lying pasture nestled amongst hills can also get pretty soupy at times, too, so flooding issues are not restricted to river valleys.</strong>  In pine woods, you need to consider <strong>forest fires</strong>.  
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<p>Lastly--work!  How are you planning on supporting yourselves?  If you have an existing job, how far is the commute?  How often do you need to get to town? <strong> If a key creek floods regularly, does it block your access to the road?</strong>  (Again, from someone living in Floodsville.)  You need to be realistic about these things when considering a property.</p>
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<p><span style="color:#0000cd;">Very true in our area also, which we found out shortly after we moved here.  Thankfully we live up in the hills so our property itself didn't flood, but low lying roads around us flooded over, so we couldn't go anywhere for almost 2 weeks before the water receded.  There were a lot of properties that flooded severely in our area last spring.  Since we do live so far out, though, we stock up on food and are prepared should that happen again, but DH now works out of the house (last spring he worked from home) so should it happen again he won't be able to go to work.   </span></p>
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<p>Re Internet, someone mentioned HughesNet. There are at least three satellite providers, each with pros and cons, none ideal due to FAP (fair access policy) limits if you're a heavy user, but they can be used anywhere you have a view of the sky at the appropriate angle for their satellites. Check out, besides HughesNet (which some people report has atrocious overseas non-customer support), WildBlue and Starband. These will allow you to be further from any town, away from phone lines. That said, some rural areas have broadband--signals sent from tower to tower, like cell signals, but towers specifically for Internet. You do need to be within line of sight to a tower, but the tower can be quite a few miles away and still work fine. You might look into these as well. My broadband works as well as any DSL or other high speed network. Maybe not as lightning fast as some super high speed connections, but fast enough for Skype phone, videos, etc. 24/7 and only $38/mo. (or slightly slower for $25/mo.)</p>
 
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