Buying a home is always intimidating — even to the most experienced of homebuyers. But buying a home in a rural area includes a set of circumstances unlike anything you will find in a suburban location. So if you are thinking of leaving the pavement behind and investing in that dream home in the country, here are some things you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.
One of the hardest adjustments for the city mouse turned country mouse is isolation. You may think you’re ready to trade the sound of traffic for that of crickets, but what about that commute time? My husband drives one hour to his job — and we are five minutes off the Interstate.
Maybe you’re retired and the daily commute is behind you; but if you have health issues that require frequent trips to the doctor, you will want to be close to medical care. Although the public school system will pick your child up, driving 20 miles to every sporting or music event could wear down even the most countrified of individuals. You might consider renting for a year to see what type of inconveniences your dream life might entail.
2. The Homeowners Association
Just because you are looking at three to five acres, doesn’t mean you can keep chickens in your back yard. Ask if the home you are considering is part of a homeowners association. Not only do these associations include yearly fees for road maintenance or other amenities, they frequently slap rules onto the homeowner that you may find onerous.
So if you intend to keep anything besides a dog or cat, love hanging your laundry out in the sun to dry, or even want to paint your house a vibrant color, the homeowners association may have something to say about that. Discuss your dreams with your realtor so that she shows you appropriate pieces of property. And if you do look at something in an association, ask for a copy of the ordinances.
It’s a given that if you live in a metropolitan area water will be as close as a turn of the spigot. That’s not necessarily so in a rural area. If you are looking at property outside of the town limits, ask if the water is from a natural source or a cistern. A cistern is an underground tank that is filled either by a water delivery service (for which you have to pay) or collected from off the roof of the home. Some mortgage companies will not loan money for a home with a cistern. If they do, you will want to have it inspected prior to purchasing to make sure it does not leak and is free of contaminants.
A natural water source would include a well or a spring. Again, you will want to check with your mortgage company before purchasing a home with only spring water. And whichever you find will need to be inspected for impurities before the sale. Once you move to the country you will want to have your water tested on a regular basis to make sure it is free of bacteria or chemicals from industrial or farm run-off.
When living in the city, our undesirable neighbors included gangs and drug dealers. In the country, you may want to find a home away from places where they spray chemicals, make a lot of noise, or smell. Of course, this is a purely subjective decision, but most folks moving from the sterility of pavement find the smell of dairy farms and poultry houses offensive. You may also want to avoid the chemical exposure of living across from an orchard or vineyard, and the noise of a lumber mill. Make sure that you drive by the place that interests you several times at different times of day to get a feel for the area. It’s not a bad idea to speak with a neighbor or two, as well.
The rural home does not have sewer lines carrying away unwanted waste. In the country, each home has its own septic system to deal with that. You will want to ask your realtor what type of system the property includes and how much maintenance is involved. You will also want to have it inspected before the sale.
I grew up in the country and wouldn’t trade living here for anything. I also lived many years in a metropolitan area, so I understand both sides. If leaving the pavement behind you has always been a dream, go for it. Just keep these few things in mind.
Do you live on rural property? What are some other considerations homebuyers should consider? Leave a comment!