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 Post subject: Country living
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:05 pm 

Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:56 am
Posts: 134
As I save up for a new home down payment, I'm thinking about what I'll want in my new home and the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards getting something that has a couple acres or more. Odds are good I won't find something affordable within the metro area, which means moving out a bit. Living on the plains or in the mountains are both possibilities. A few possible issues I've thought of are:

Longer commute. The way I see it, I'm probably going to have a commute no matter where I move since I could end up working anywhere in the metro area - this time last year I had a 80 mile round trip. Also, one of my career goals is to telecommute regularly or work from home for my own business. I am trying to figure out what my max distance from the city should be.

Farther away from shopping, etc. This doesn't bother me too much. I already live 5 miles from a decent grocery store (there is a closer one but it's pricey, crowded, etc) and department stores are even further out so quick trips out generally don't happen, but again I'll probably set a maximum driving distance to basic conveniences like grocery, hardware, gas, etc.

Utilities. This is one I don't know much about. How different is it to use a septic system when you're used to sewer, propane instead of a natural gas line, etc? These are some of the questions I'm really wondering about. Something that isn't negotiable is high speed internet which could be an issue.

Anything else I should consider? General thoughts on living a few (or more) miles from the city? I'd especially like to hear from any mountain dwellers since that's the direction my heart is pulling me in. Or even just thoughts on owning and maintaining property larger than the usual yard.

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 Post subject: Re: Country living
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:33 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1359
For internet, you just need to do some research in the areas you're looking at to see what's available. When I rented a cottage on a 37-acre farm 5 miles up a steep dirt road in Vermont, we only had dial-up. But since that time cable has come in (snaked through the woods by draft horse) and so has DSL. It varies from region to region and remoteness. There are also $$ options like satellite internet.

I think one of the big differences is that in the country you have to plan ahead more. Maybe you shop for groceries once a week (unless you can pick up on your way home from work). That's what we did when I was a kid: we planned ahead, wrote out shopping lists, and Saturday was shopping day at the supermarket and department store.

Propane and septic aren't really different -- with propane you just have to be sure your tank doesn't run out, so you have to pay attention to the levels, but once you have your average use figured out the company will come and fill it on a pre-set schedule. Septic isn't a big difference day to day either.

Keep in mind that the more land you own, the more it'll cost to maintain (even if you do everything yourself), and the more outbuildings you have the more work and expense for maintenance. There will be some large initial expenses for tools and equipment that you wouldn't need in the city.

When I lived in Vermont, city people would ask how I kept from being bored out of my skull, and I laughed because I was far busier living in the country than I ever was when I lived near the city. There's always something to do. It can also be noisier in the country than in the city, at least in summer when the birds start singing at 4am and then your neighbors are out with their chain saws and tractors a couple of hours later.

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 Post subject: Re: Country living
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:25 pm 

Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:56 am
Posts: 134
Thanks for your reply! Yeah, I know satellite's available pretty much everywhere but I'd like to avoid it if possible. I know cable and DSL have been spreading out, I'll probably have to evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.

What type of land maintenance usually needs to be done? I know fencing will be important, and mowing might need to be done once in a while if I go east. I definitely won't have a lawn for the whole thing, this region is classed as semi-arid and watering that much grass would be way too expensive. Outbuildings could be an issue, I'll have to remember to factor in that expense when I actually start looking.

And I have no delusions that country living is boring :D The more I think about it, the more I think that it really is the right lifestyle for me, much more so than living in the middle of it all where you can walk to everything, but I want to make sure there isn't something I'm missing that would turn my dream into a nightmare.

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 Post subject: Re: Country living
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1359
Land maintenance really depends on the property and what's on it (and what you want to do with it). I don't think you can generalize.

I loved my 10 years in Vermont, but I did get tired of having to drive everywhere. I put 20,000 miles on my car every year. Now that I live in a city I put about 6,000 miles on my car annually and easily go a month or two without needing to fill the tank with gas.

Sometimes you can feel isolated living in the country, especially if you're single. Many things take longer but others take less time. I was shocked when I moved here and discovered that you had to take a number and wait when you went to the bank or post office (or even the bakery on weekends), instead of just walking up to the counter like I did in Vermont.

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 Post subject: Re: Country living
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5479
catchingup wrote:
Thanks for your reply! Yeah, I know satellite's available pretty much everywhere but I'd like to avoid it if possible. I know cable and DSL have been spreading out, I'll probably have to evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.

One issue with satellite communication, internet or otherwise, is latency. Basically, when you hit return there will be a delay before anything starts. They will report the speed after the link starts. I suggest you try before you buy. It's probably fine for downloading but not great for anything interactive.

For retirement we are considering, among several options, semi-country living and "gentleman farming." It's an interesting lifestyle. I grew up in a rural area so I get the whole rural living stuff, which has its appeal.

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 Post subject: Re: Country living
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:15 pm 

Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:56 am
Posts: 134
Thanks again for the replies. I went on a camping trip this weekend at a family ranch and it really reinforced the idea of getting out of the city. It also reminded me that when you don't have sod things get dusty real fast, but I can cope with that :D

What will I do with the land? Enjoy it, really. I'm not looking to buy a ranch or a farm. At most I might do a large vegetable patch. I love the idea of being able to step out my door and being surrounded by the natural scenery, to be able to stargaze in my own back yard without worrying about city lights, look out a window without seeing into the neighbor's house, set up an archery range in my own yard... and for me, the isolation is part of the reason I want to move from the city. I have enough friends and family in the area that I can find company if I need it, but I love the idea of having my home as a retreat.

I have a choice between something in the Rocky Mountains or something on the front range/plains. To get something affordable in the mountains I'd have to go in a bit since the closest properties are really expensive but prices drop quickly once you're into the mountain range (then go up when you get close to the resorts). Most of the lots I've seen listed are on a pretty good slope but even the cheap ones have some great views. Driving on the side roads in the mountains can be slow but the scenery compensates (unless I'm running late, of course!)

Alternatively, there's a wide variety of options at lower altitude, from planned neighborhoods with large yards to properties that used to be small farms or ranches, located just outside of the suburbs or several miles out of town. Many are in or just outside of a small town that would have banks, grocery, etc, some are in relatively modern developments while others aren't really that old but still have a frontier feel to them, and so on.

I have a while to figure out what it is I want, but once I have the down payment saved I want to know what I'm looking for.

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