5 Tips For Planning Your Move To The Country

Your first country home doesn’t have to be your last.

Moving to my husband’s 6 acres was daunting, to say the least. Turning onto what I used to call dirt roads but are actually gravel roads in order to get to my home was a big moment of “we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

But what I didn’t anticipate was how much I was going to LOVE living in the country! The quiet evenings, the expansive space to roam, seeing stars every night, the list of pros goes on and on!

Reflecting on the choice to move to the country, I feel proud I chose to pull up my bootstraps instead of run for the hills. Given that crossroads again today, I’d go down the same path. 

But perhaps you’re not as lucky as I was to move into an already managed and furnished property… this week, we’ve compiled a few easy steps to look for your very own place out of town.

1. Accept Right Now It Will Need Some Elbow Grease

Inside of a home in the middle of a remodel. There's no insulation or interior walls.
Flashback to 2016 when Nick was remodeling our home!

In recent talks with my new home-owner friends, I realized that whether your new home is in the country or in town, it’s most likely going to need some work. It’s very hard to find a house that’s both within price point AND doesn’t have odd, pieced together parts.

When it comes to purchasing a country home, unless you’re willing to fork over a ton of money, the property itself is going to need A LOT of work. The woods will be overgrown, the Creeping Charlie will be taking over, the only shower will be in the basement, and the wind will blow right through the walls. Or at least, that’s what was wrong with my place…

What I’m getting at here is you’ll need to get to work immediately to make it liveable. 

But seriously, don’t let this frighten you! The pros FAR outway the cons when it comes to your very own country home. Especially when it means you get to roam around outside in your very own wide-open spaces (room to make her big mistakes….)

2. Recognize That the Property Was Likely Set Up For a Different Purpose

Hay elevator sitting against the door to the second floor of the barn. Kitty sits in the door. Hay bales sit in the background.
Peep the kitty in the door?

Most likely, your property was not meant to be a luxurious, country living home. It was organized to be a business and produce money.

This especially applies if you are buying an old farm site. Grain bins or aged, little buildings/barns will likely be the norm. Don’t let this get in the way of a good time. Sometimes all it takes is a little vision to repurpose these out-buildings for your own rural-living goals!

For example, grain bins can be converted into garages. Or maybe you want to store your fleet of kayaks and canoes in a lean-to shed. On our property, we utilize an old corn crib for hay storage, an additional pigeon loft, and a chicken coop!

The time to repurpose these buildings is limitless because no one is going to judge you if a decrepit silo sits on your property forever! Your neighbors won’t care if you never get around to taking down crumbling buildings or clearing out overgrown woods because they live too far away to care!

3. Change Your Expectations for Looks

Logs sit under a dead elm tree in the back pasture.
One of our many random piles of firewood.

If the place is truly in the country, you will likely be the sole member of your own Homeowner’s Association. Dandelion filled lawns, maybe a grove full of untrimmed trees, these “eyesores” won’t deter your block mates from voting you “Lawn of the Month.”

This lesson took me YEARS to learn. I’ve seriously spent the past 3 years picking up every. Single Stick. 

And when you have over 100 trees, there are a lot of sticks…

To appease my need to have a nice looking lawn, I’ve categorized our acreage into pasture, garden, and lawn. I’ve started managing those areas differently, meaning if branches fall in the pasture, I walk around them. 

At the end of the day, I realized I simply didn’t want to waste my time building a stick collection. I’d rather pull weeds and groom a garden that will produce beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables than wander 6 acres after every wind storm.

4. Large Pole-Sheds and Front End Loaders Are Not Required

Large steel boxes to store adult toys seems to be a right of passage in the rural areas these days. Although there are few cheaper ways to get everything under one roof, recognize that it doesn’t all have to be in one shed. 

In fact if you are planning a pole shed project, be careful that it doesn’t dominate your entire property. Think about it this way, if you put some serious effort into giving your house some character, why would you put a faux industrial warehouse next to it? 

To be clear, pole sheds DO have their place but be honest about what your property is capable of supporting and what your goals are for the lifestyle you are creating.

Lean-to shed, corn stalks in the garden, cloudy skies above.
Lean to shed on the edge of our property.
Now, onto the issue of heavy equipment... consider the following: 

In the city, you pay taxes in order to maintain the roads (this includes fixing cracks and plowing in winter.) In the country, you still pay taxes in order to maintain the roads, but it’s a fraction of the cost.

Out here, you’ll most likely have a neighbor that already owns a front end loader. So instead of purchasing one for yourself, consider building a relationship with your neighbor and paying them to plow your driveway (and most likely they won’t charge all that much!) 

Sometimes, self-sufficiency is not about having all of the tools or equipment to complete every task on your own, it’s also about building connections with those around you. A community of individuals that bring different skills to the table is more valuable than being an island in the middle of corn.

5. Country Properties Can Be Bought and Sold On a Frequent Basis

Nick walks through long grasses with nothing but fencing and bluffs in the background.
Nick wandering the cow pastures at his dad’s country property.

Just like houses in town, country properties are constantly up for sale.

I know a lot of talkers and dreamers who frequently discuss their rural property plans while they wait for their forever home to become available. 

But, while they’re waiting for the perfect listing to pop up, they wallow in their city home.

So, here’s a quick realization for you, unless you’re truly willing to live a million miles from civilization, the perfect place is either exorbitantly expensive or simply not-for-sale. 

With this in mind, why wait any longer? You can enjoy many of the benefits of country living without having the perfect 40 acres at the end of a dead-end road, where it’s already fenced for horses, and a babbling brook that runs right through your property… 

Most views from our property have a cornfield in the background. And, as much as we wish a river ran next to our property, the closest water access is only a 5-minute drive! Our house is just as quiet as a dream home, the dog can run unleashed, and there’s no traffic for our future kids to look out for.

And best of all, if the dream home becomes available in our price range… we can sell this one. Most likely for more than we paid, just like any other piece of residential property.

You Have to Live Somewhere

In the end, you have to live somewhere! This either takes a mortgage, rent or if you’re lucky… liquidation of your spinster, great aunt’s inheritance. 

Since shelter is required, your shelter might as well be in the country!

Read more about country living!

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This post was written by Annie, September 2020.

Annie standing at the Lincoln Waterfowl Production area during a gravel bike ride.

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