March 12, 2015

country livingAs a home builder and real estate specialist, I sometimes run across folks who dream of moving out of the city and buying land in the countryside. It always brings to mind the movie Funny Farm (starring Chevy Chase), where a couple decide to move from New York City to a charming Cape Cod on acreage overlooking a picturesque setting in the country. Of course, as movies go, they encounter a series of mishaps and realize their dream was nothing like reality. In fact, I have sold similar properties to clients who toughed it out a couple years and then decided to sell.

All this said, I am in no way against moving to a rural location. I actually live in the country now and many people who are thinking of building or contracting their own home make this choice as well. But there are some things you should consider before making this decision.

First, living in the country often means being isolated. From its very nature, a country lifestyle can be a little solitary. Neighbors, if you have them, are usually spread out. It is not uncommon to go for days without seeing anyone but your family. It’s the perfect situation for someone who is a home-body though.

Second, building in a rural area can pose some challenges. There may not be access to public utilities (especially, water). You may have to factor in the costs of digging a well or installing a propane tank for gas. You may even have to run electricity to your site, which may be expensive. Further, you will likely be located further away from building material suppliers, so getting material deliveries to your site may be more difficult. The supply of subcontractors in the area may be limited as well.

Third, commuting (whether to a job or the store) can be an issue. You will have to get used to living without some of the conveniences you might be accustom to, such as a short trip to shopping or restaurants. And driving long distances to work may not sound that bad at first, but it can get tiring after a while. Telecommuting is possible with many jobs these days, but high speed Internet options are not always available in some rural locations. Fortunately, there are now several companies offering high speed Internet via satellite, but this option is usually more expensive and comes with its own set of issues.

Fourth, if you decide after a few years that country living is not for you, selling may be a challenge. There simply are not as many buyers looking for homes and property far from cities and work.

By now, you must be thinking that I don’t recommend a rural lifestyle. Not so! There are many advantages to buying property in rural locations:

  • land can usually be purchased cheaper if its further out from a major city,
  • the air quality is often better in the country,
  • You can implement some of the new energy systems (solar power, for example) that may not be practical or even allowed in city developments,
  • You usually have more freedom to do what you want with your land (less restrictions),
  • You can create an almost self-sufficient lifestyle.

Deciding to buy property in a rural location and then build your own home is a big decision. It can truly be a dream lifestyle, but be sure to make the decision with your eyes wide open.