Rural Property Guide
- Do nothing - time is too precious to waste. Buddha. What
better place to do nothing than in the country?
- Rural or country property gives you increased choices for
use of space, time, and lifestyle; rural life provides an
abundance of fortunes.
- Consider that you can have a big garden, grow your own
food, drink pure water, breathe clean air, and have a lot
of room to move around. Telecommute if necessary.
- When you move to the country, you can expect change of
heart, new ideas along with the setting and neighbors
integrating into your life, soul searching and many
- Investigate the area that you are moving to carefully.
Talk to people about the weather. Find the pulse of local
culture and subcultures; find your niche. Be sure the
area and neighborhood will work for you. Look before you
- Expect greater travel time to the amenities of
civilization such as stores, entertainment, hospitals,
schools, and services. This is one of the tradeoffs with
rural living; you have more privacy, less traffic, clean
air and living conditions and have to go farther to get
"stuff," unless you live in the middle of a
town with more than a few thousand people.
- Get to know the land to which you will be moving.
Understand its uses, know the boundaries, explore the
access and easements to and across it, determine its
detriments and appreciate its potential. Talk to the
surveyor that recorded your survey - and if you don't
have a survey, you will do well to get one. Get to know
the people that sell you your place and let them tell you
all about it, its history, and how they lived there. Was
this always a meadow? What are the good places to walk?
Why are you selling?
- Lay down on the ground and watch the clouds pass by, the
treetops move in the wind, the birds pass; listen to the
grasses and leaves. Contemplate priorities.
- People - your neighbors and what they do - are important,
too. Choose your location and homesite carefully; you may
not wish to live downwind from a dairy farm, near a
shooting range or next to a logging operation. Obviously
you will want friendly neighbors with a good sense of
boundaries and respect for your privacy. Talk with all of
your prospective neighbors before you buy; you'll learn a
lot and probably make some friends, not to mention ease
your entry into the area. Make arrangements to borrow and
lend that cup of sugar.
- Land is your friend. Treat it with respect and care and
it will do the same for you. Let wildlife use the ground
freely; fence only your ornamental and food crops.
Consider milling any timber that you fell for building
materials; this can save you money and is more sensible
than burning. If you can, mulch or chip slash from
clearing and timber falling and use it to build soil.
Dispose of toxic wastes properly; recycle.
- Develop a gravity fed water system if your property
permits - it's great to have running water when the power
or your pump goes down for any period.
- Get "off the grid" if there's any way you can -
the cost of power keeps going up and even faster than
that the enormous expense of getting power to your site -
for the money you can spend on getting power to your new
home you may be able to purchase a system that will free
you from utility bills in perpetuity.
- Consider buying a generator for your remote and/or
emergency power needs. I did, about 5 years ago; it now has about
60 hours worth of use over those 5 years and has been a great
convenience, if not a necessity, when the power has gone out -
pumping water of primary importance, then
running lights and the fridge. I put this purchase off as long as
seemed logically spartan but.... a couple of three, five or seven day
stretches of camping in our small home of about 900 square feet
- shared by 2 adults, two teenagers, two dogs, two cats and
many holiday visitors - with only sponge baths,
heating water on the woodstove, having to eat all the food
in the fridge or losing it to spoilage, no laundry, the
initial romance of candlelight giving way to perpetual or
sudden onset blindness blended with marathons of fumbling
searches for matches to light the candles, suddenly very
dead, hard to find and profuse save the actual operating
flashlights, your basic tablespoon or evaporated milk stored
on the highest kitchen shelf or under the house
and sustained fear of leaving one too many candles awake
with nothing to do while we all slept happily asking
the whole of my home to join in the fun... Well,
that all cured me. For more detail, ask.
If you can help it, get off the grid; go solar, wind or hydro power.
- Develop the proper type of septic system. When you have
rural property, you will need to dispose of your own sewage
and this means a septic system of some sort. Locally we use
three kinds of systems: Optimally - and assuming your soils
drain favorably - you can construct a Standard system that
will cost you between $5,500 and $15,000. Middle of the line
cost and option wise are the Highline systems. These require
some elevated soils and gravel for the leach field and run
in cost between $15,000 and $27,000. A Mound system (now said
to be obsolete if not superceded by Aerobic systems by my
most heavily consulted soils scientist) is generally constructed
at sites that have poor drainage; it involves building a large
pile - or mound, and hence the term - of soils and gravel
that effluent is pumped up and into and eventually leaches
out of in a sanitized fashion. This is the most expensive
type of system to design and build; the cost of a Mound or
Aerobic system starts at $15,000 and can run much, much higher.
- Buy some rural property now. Prices in many places are low
and so are interest rates - relatively. There's no time like
the present and besides - who knows when property values will
start to climb? Get in while the getting is good. Subject
These are a few extremely generic hints that allude to untold
numbers of specific conditions that you may or may not be
interested in. Please call or email me, Peter White, should you
be considering a move to the area and wanting specific advice.