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Opportunity to purchase - Good idea? Bad idea? Suggested layout?  RSS feed

 
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Hello all! I am a long...long long time lurker who has always had the dream to homestead. I lived in a HOA subdivision and selling my home in the hopes that I would find my dream home. A purchase opportunity has come up and it has a lot of pros, and maybe some cons. Ideally, I'd like to have a garden/food forest, chickens, and maybe a cow. Nothing too big, but enough for myself and family, and possibly a farmer's market in the future.

Pros:
- over 4 acres in my price range in a normally higher-dollar area
- home is in good condition
- has a workshop/garage pole building
- has a three stall stable area
- has established fruit trees and berries

Cons:
- The lot is kind of narrow (about 175 feet wide), and I would be sandwiched by neighbors. It also may make things awkward with the addition of animals. Has anyone had any issues like this, and did you have any complaints from neighbors?
- Surrounded by tilled farmland, and I do not know what kind of chemicals they use. I could plant trees along the property line to help control over spray, but it would significantly narrow the lot even more.

What are your thoughts?
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Howdy Kat , welcome to posting at permies!  I wonder if the land owner with the plowed fields would be interested in selling at least the land to the right and left of the house? Does it look like any of the neighbors on the lower part of the picture , raise animals? might be worth planting a bunch of trees around the house, north, east and west. The rest of the property looks like it is kind of isolated from the spray by the other neighbors.
 
pioneer
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hi kat...

i was pretty much facing the decision that you are now facing in april of last year :) i wouldn't be afraid of it...sounds pretty good given that i have no idea about so many things...then again...i don't have to...if it is where you KNOW you want to be...go for it...fruit trees and berry bushes are WONDERFUL for those of us who don't mind the bees! :)

i don't know where you are from...and to be honest with you...i am from rural arkansas...i have lived pretty much all of my life down a dirt road on the timberlands and the farmlands of southwest arkansas where my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and even great great grandparents lived (i was the last of my family name on my daddy's side to leave our little town)...before moving to the river valley here in arkansas...where i am safely tucked away between the ozarks and the ouachita mountains...

now, i tell you all of that because when i moved here...there was so little of a difference in my life that i would swear on God's Holy Word that i am still back home in the timberlands if i didn't know better...almost NOTHING has changed for me here...EXCEPT the fact that the few close neighbors i now have (which i had none) have proved to be such a HUGE BLESSING TO US....i can not even begin to count the ways!!!  thing is, about rural arkansas...especially rural arkansas, people choose to live in a very different way from the masses...the people here are...LOL...hmmmm....well we are different!!! :)  it is horrible if you don't fit in...and you wont last long...i tell ya that...but, if you do...there is not another more wonderful experience in the world!!!  it is the closest i have ever found to heaven...but the folks who lived here before...would tell you it was the closest thing they ever found to hell!

they were a younger couple who wanted so much to leave the city and move to the mountains to homestead...they had no skills...just dreams...and their only source of income was the closest town 45 minutes...of which a heck of a lot of...was dirt road...i was used to that...they were not...
we have a source of income...and we owe no man...they did not
we are steeped in our history of living in a very secluded, and private manner...they were not
we had experience in rural arkansas...and although they were arkies...they were NOT rural arkies...VERY VERY BIG DIFFERENCE!
not one neighbor around here bonded with them...they didn't bond with one neighbor...and i don't know who hated who the most...gossip flies!
they didn't know how to, nor were they willing, to learn to do a cotton pickin thing...and round here that doesn't fly... the outbuildings and the cabin that are here...they had neglected almost to the point of no return...seriously...it was BAD...when we moved in...our neighbors came one by one and gawked and gasped!

of the year that they struggled to make it here, not one neighbor knew their names, or ANY THING about them...and that wasn't good in a culture where your good name is EVERYTHING!  if they needed anything, no one around here knew it, nor did they care...that poor girl painted EVERYTHING white, including the fireplace and rock floor of this little cabin...i think...in an effort to not feel so boxed in...she had completely quit supporting her husband...and everything for them was out of control...hell, they had to pay an additional 5,000 to pay off their mortgage so they could sell this to us...no joke...we felt so sorry for them...we paid them MORE than they were asking just to get them out of here!
i could write a book about all of that!!!

now, you ask?  why did we move here?  cause i KNOW the heartbeat of a community like this...it is in my blood...and i share it...and i hold dear to it, lest it escapes me!!! for as long as i draw breath...i am gonna be a rural arkie!!! there is just no way im leavin the woods, lessen im dead--even then plans are to bury me in the little country cemetery near my dad and mom :)

but today i am still kickin and breathin...LOL...and seriously...all of this is sooooo important...at least in my neck of the woods...like i said...rural arkie, southern missouri, eastern oklahoma, pretty much the ouachita, ozark, boston mountainous areas...has a heartbeat all it's own...and if it is not your heartbeat...if you don't want it bad enough to make some very VERY necessary adjustments to the way you think, live, and communicate with others...you may very well be in for a big unwanted surprise.

by changing the way of your thinking...i mean ya gotta see your neighbors as family...even the bad ones...and TREAT them as such...
live...ya gotta live...get out there...reach out there...learn to make a peach cobbler...and they will love you for it!!! respond when an elderly neighbor lady comes cryin and sayin her beloved jersey cow is down...and can't get up...her husband is at work and can't be home till afternoon, the poor thing has pushed out her innards in effort to raise...you BETTER get that gun (which i hope you have) and go get that baby out of her misery...and help this lady...you BETTER suck it up and get er done...cause you see...that was her best friend!!! that 'jersey cow' has been giving milk to orphan baby calves around here for years..up to four at a time...you better be able to do it...even if you can't...and there is no time for thinking, and she LOVES that cow...you better have it down...cause what you do comes back to you 10 fold.

the way you live...out here you live like everyone else does....PLEASE DON'T COME DRIVING A STINKING sports car down this dirt road..cause crazy meth head a*** down the road...is probably gonna pick you off when you go by his house...steal your money and then sell your car...just joking...BUT, he probably will run you off the road on purpose :)  the rest of us will just laugh...cause ya had it comin...and it makes for a pretty funny story, really.
BLEND IN!!! learn to be a family... if you don't already know how to do that...folks round here are plain spoken and honest...they'll tell ya...gotta know that...either they will make ya or break ya, and there isn't much room for the faint of heart :) listen to them and learn...

the way you communicate...LEARN THAT IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP!!!  these folks have more knowledge in their heads about how to live in these mountains than i will ever have in my little pinky!  they know the trails...they know the land...the water...the animals...they can tell ya about neighbor a***...and be honest about it...but, by golly, you better love a***--his family has lived here forever and his great aunt was married to my fourth cousin twice removed...LOL...a***is FAMILY...AND YOU HAD BETTER JUST LOVE A***...beat the shit out of him if he steals from you...then make sure he gets a blueberry pie for dinner...or you could start an all out war around here!!! :)  ask for help when you need it...folks here would do ANYTHING to help someone who helps themselves (unless you are blessed enough to be born around here...in which case...they will help you anyway) but if you are not born here...you have to EARN respect...and that starts by learning to learn your neighbors...GO MEET THEM...feel what they feel...ask questions......are they anything like you?

maybe you aren't in arkansas...if not...maybe all of this meandering will answer a question about moving here for someone else...maybe you can use some small little something in your decision making process...i sure hope so...if you are the more cautious kind, you can find out about your potential neighbors and life there by listening in on the 'round table' discussions being had by the local farmers over a cup of hot coffee in the morning hours...we have one diner...and what a diner it is!!! most everyone descends from the mountain on friday (fish) night or sunday after church...we have a few of those...and also...a trading post where folks meander throughout the day...lots can be learned just by observing...and asking...just don't get TOO nosey! :)

i have attached a jpeg of our land layout...we moved from a pretty large and secluded place...i am a little older now, and i have ALWAYS wanted to move to the mountains, wherever that might have been...for us, it was to this little 'under 10' and i was scared to death!!! and boys,  through all of the hardships and struggles, sadness and paring down, i am glad i made that move--i am living the dream--FINALLY :)
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teri morgan
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kinda long...sorry for that :)
 
teri morgan
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im getting familiar with all of this posting stuff...what a mess!!!
 
master pollinator
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Our place is somewhat similar, except it had only a single peach tree and a few shade and landscape trees. It had a small house and it had old outbuildings. It was partially fenced. It was affordable and has good soil.

BUT, my house was not in an area with nicer homes. It’s in farm country. So animals aren’t a problem AT ALL. It is unzoned, meaning anything is allowed — there’s good and bad in that - no one can control me, but my neighbor could decide to build a huge manufacturing plant or dig a strip mine or they could put in a noisy wind farm. In other words, if they cannot control you, you cannot control them, no matter how bad they are, unless they violate federal law.

Check the zoning in your area (if any). What is this property’s zoning? Are farm animals allowed? Are outbuildings allowed? Are there fencing ordinances? Also, nearby towns are often allowed to pass ordinances that control land use in close proximity to the town. If you are within a couple miles of the town (distance varies by state where this is allowed) check the town’s ordinances. ALSO, check whether there are any deed restrictions on this property’s deed. In some areas deed restrictions are common, and are used to limit uses of land. If all of these check out, you are good to go.

If the neighbors are totally McMansions with no fencing and nary an animal, you may be in for trouble anyway. If you don’t see anything with a garden or a few chickens or other livestock in your area, be prepared for neighbors to call authorities trying to claim you are a nuisance. I don’t see any in the overhead, but if they exist it could be trouble.

Yes commercial farms use chemicals. That’s one of many reasons why we are planting hedges/fence rows around the place. When we first moved here, it was only partially fenced. We fenced the rest and started planting. Over time, the farmer next door has been planting further from our property line, so his equipment doesn’t get caught up in our fence. And probably because the vines and such I have planted on the fence also could grab his equipment. I have not had trouble with drift killing anything.
 
Kat Conn
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Thank you all for your replies! I talked to my realtor this morning and found out that it has an accepted offer, so I guess it wasn't meant to be! I'll keep looking, and in them meantime, get myself some more savings for the house that is meant to be mine

Miles, that was a great idea to ask the owners of the adjoining property to sell a parcel. I think that would make me feel so much better. Personally, I would love a nice square lot or something similar, but if it was going to be narrow and long, maybe additional acreage so it felt bigger I will definitely keep that in mind if something similar comes up in the future.

Teri, I have dear friends who recently moved back to Arkansas to be closer to family. They keep asking if I will move there to be close to them, and I would love to! I just don't feel comfortable leaving my current job. Maybe someday it is a place where I can look! And I loved your story. Neighbors are important, and I have come to appreciate the ones I have had. I also like the idea of having privacy and not feeling like we are living on a city block in the middle of the country. I'd love to find a place with that balance where we could be social and help each other, but also have freedom to move around more in our own spaces. My friends who moved actually purchased an acre of land with a home in NW Arkansas near Fayetteville and they love it. They don't plan to have animals, but they love plants and gardening. They actually just put in a pond last summer!

Myrth, I agree about zoning. This area has agriculture rights, while being zoned residential. However, I seem to hear a lot nowadays about the suburban home development in the countryside and the residents love the peace and quiet, but not the animals and farming. I would have had the right to have animals, but I also love to avoid conflict where I can.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see what comes along! I have looked into a few states that I really love for homesteading, including Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and Maine. Maine might be a bit remote compared to the others, but it's just so beautiful there and I wouldn't mind snow  We'll see what the future holds! Thank you all for your replies and you have definitely given me a lot to think about. I think this community is wonderful, and I have so enjoyed reading through the posts over the past few years.
 
teri morgan
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here is to wishing the best for you, kat!!! :)  keep us posted..i wanna celebrate with ya when that perfect spot comes your way...and it will :)
 
Myrth Gardener
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There will be others, Kat! Don’t get discouraged. I’ll bet there will be more going on the market this spring. Hope you keep posting!
 
Kat Conn
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Thank you Teri! I hope I can come on here with great news someday, posting a picture of my new land with the title "I'm finally homesteading!" I'd love to share my journey, along with all of the failures and successes.
 
Kat Conn
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Thank you Myrth! I have been looking for awhile and I just haven't found the right one. Someday, I will!
 
teri morgan
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Kat Conn wrote:Thank you Myrth! I have been looking for awhile and I just haven't found the right one. Someday, I will!



hey...kat...you have myrth posting with ya!!! THAT'S A GREAT THING!!!  she is a tremendous help and has a wealth of information!!! has helped me LOTS since she has been giving me feedback!!! girl chat time
 
Myrth Gardener
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Awww. 😊

Thanks, Teri!
 
pollinator
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Kat,

This is a long game. Don't get discouraged. I am soooooo grateful we live where we do. We actually put an offer on the house assuming they would reject. It wasn't what we wanted but if we could get a good deal, we would make it work. Wait for a good deal. Have some flex in your desires. Have some money left over to turn it into a place that inspires you. Don't hate your dream a couple months in.

The property is exactly what we wanted, the house isn't (it is much bigger than we wanted but incredibly energy efficient). This has allowed us to have a bunch of people over, and there is no other place people can congregate in the extremes of temperature. It's close enough to work that my total fuel consumption is very modest , but far enough out that we can make everyone curious with the changes and don't get beat up by the HOA (which is four other houses). The other thing I thought I would dislike is that we abut a subdivision (soon to be another as well). These are not McMansions, maybe 1200SF working class homes. What is COOL is that people walk by. They are friendly, they are curious, and lo and behold, they often are interested in participating in the Seppifying of their backyard. I have made connections here very quickly.

Keep your eyes open, there are opportunities where you don't think there would be. We wanted solitude and ended up with multitude. It is great!
 
Kat Conn
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That's good to know, Teri! I think the community here is so great and supportive of one another, even if they don't always agree. It's a place to share ideas and things we learn along the way. It's one of the things that got me hooked in the first place! And it really opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities out there that I would have never known.

TJ, I have come to see the long game, especially with what I can afford. In some ways, I have options and opportunity. Then I get "analysis paralysis" or wonder if it's really the right thing. I really want my next home to be my "forever home" that I can pour my energy into. The property had so many positive features for me, that I would have really been open to working with the less than perfect characteristics, like the narrow lot and the fact that maybe it isn't quite as large as I'd like. But, I guess it isn't in the cards for me and it can be another person's dream home

Also, it's great to hear that you had so many positive experiences with the homes in your vicinity. It's always so scary (to me) to think about what new neighbors might be like, how accepting they are of something a little different, and the like. Being in commodity crop country, you sure do stick out when you're planting trees on prime plowing acreage! LOL
 
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Hi Kat,

Looks like you have an interesting property with unique combinations of opportunity and challenges.  This will be the case with any property, but you dimensions stand out.

I once looked at a property that was cheap for a whopping 20 acres.  The challenge was that it was only 50 feet wide!  I had to pass.

Your 175 foot width should not rule the property out immediately.  I think you could work with this if you wanted to.

Also, I don’t think that you can stop chemical runoff or spray drifting from the fields, but maybe you could buffer it.

In the end, the only real advice I can offer (and take this for whatever you think it is worth) is that you will have to decide if this is the property for you, or if the dimensions are just not right.  My 9 acres are very oddly shaped concave hexagon, but I love it.  My land sort of spoke to me when I first saw it.  Does this land speak to you?

These are just my thoughts and I hope they can help.

Best of luck,

Eric
 
Tj Jefferson
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Kat, I hope people who are looking for property see this thread. You are going about it slowly. I am OK with Eric's concept if "does the property speak to you?" but be very careful, as humans we can delude ourselves pretty thoroughly.

What we were looking for vs what we found
-20 + acres affordable with a decent layout
- in 20 miles to work
- decent schools
- low property tax
- small home
- running water
- good soils
- mature productive trees

By going through each property, we could narrow down what things were really important and non-negotiable.  So that absolutely ruled out several places. We actually had a contract to rent a place when we moved here, likely for a couple years, just to look around. I'm glad we made the lowball offer in retrospect but I wouldn't kick myself if we hadn't. I'm very cold blooded about money decisions.

I am very into development and the question best answered is "what assets does this place hold?" We didn't know until we moved here. We are close to a major road, which means I can get piles of wood chips. That has made the soils and tree issue less of a factor. We are unimpressed with the "good school district", but I can't say we would be less impressed with another. The lack of water is something we are engineering with ponds, and the price we paid for the property was low enough we could do that.

Exploitation of assets to cover deficits is the main human advantage on other species. Maybe we do it a little too much.
 
Eric Hanson
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Kat,

I agree with everything that TJ just posted.  Do be careful when buying land, but it appears that you already are.  When I asked “does the land speak to you?”, I meant “is this land you think you can work with?”.  If it is, then it may very well be what you are looking for, but don’t get too emotionally invested before you decide to buy.

Really, I wish you the very best of luck and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.  This is a great place to get insight.

Eric  
 
Myrth Gardener
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I agree with Tj. It is easy to get hung up on needing to find the perfect property to the extent that one never actually pursues one's dream.

Decide what you MUST have and then evaluate available properties based on how you could adapt them to your needs and desires.
 
Kat Conn
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Thank you very much TJ, Eric, and Myrth for your insights

Yes, I am moving slower on this because I would love this to be my forever home. Over the past few years, I have thought a lot about what I want, what I must have, and what things I'd like to try for fun or to see if it is for me. Unfortunately, I am not able to get the property I originally posted about because it was sold before I could see it. But now I am being notified of new listings.

The market here is very hot, so it probably isn't the best time to buy if I want any equity anyway. However, I just can't seem to stop the excitement of looking at listings and seeing if the spot for me pops up.

Funny story actually, just yesterday I came across a listing for a real "dog" of a house. It had a BEAUTIFUL property of 12 acres, part tillable and part wooded. But the house was missing part of the roof, the inside looked terrible, and it was overgrown. So, I call my realtor. I say, hey, let's go look at this! Maybe if the price on the property is right, I can get financing to fix up the junky house. So, she talks to the selling agent who lets us know it is a hoarder house, but they already have one offer that they are countering. However, the house can't really be saved. So, I'm talking it over with her and we are trying to get creative with how we could make it work.

Long story short, we figure out several solutions affordable to me and could let me make an offer, all involving getting rid of the house and putting a mobile home on the land to live in and possibly rebuild over a longer period of time. Ideas to get rid of the house ranged from having a demo team come in, to having firefighters burn down the house for practice. (I swear, I am so happy I have an agent and a friend who is willing to go along with all my crazy ideas, and even come up with some of her own!!! It is a huge gift!)

Well, I thought I had enough time to go look at this property, but turns out, later that same day while we were brainstorming, they got three more offers and accepted one. So now I like to joke that I can't even buy a house that I'll burn down! LOL

I guess the lesson here is to never give up, and don't pass on something you love if you think you can make it work in other ways. It would have been totally possible for our crazy scheme to work and I would have owned some beautiful land. Unfortunately, I just couldn't beat the other buyers to even see the property in person.

After a lot of thought and looking at a lot of listings (even outside my price range), I'd say that these things are really important to me:
- Low cost of living, low taxes
- Between 5-15 acres of mixed wooded and cleared land
- Privacy (I like neighbors, but not right outside my door)
- Freedom to own livestock if I choose that
- Within a 45 minute commute to work
- A clean, dry, safe place to sleep - I don't really care about the house style or whether it has a lot of bedrooms and extra bathrooms or a really nice sun room, or whether it is a mobile home. A sun room is nice to have, but it isn't what I'm really looking for at the end of the day

Things that would be nice to have, but can be added later:
- Pond
- Outbuildings - shed, chicken coop, pole barn
- Fruit and nut trees that are producing
 
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