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how to transition from homestead to small town?  RSS feed

 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5726
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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After forty years of living as far away from towns and neighbors as we could manage I find myself craving a small town community and it turns out so does my husband. Part of this is looking towards our next twenty years of life, we are both 63 now, and thinking how we would like to be living for that period of time. We both grew up in small neighborhoods and could walk and bike everywhere. I guess we are ready to regain that feeling of community. Neither of us are interested in an 'intentional' sort of thing...we like diversity and the variety of folks in the world. We know the little village we want to move to, an old town, once booming and now an eccentric collection of farmers, artists and craftspeople and down home folks. We hope to find an old home with one to two acres and I am excited about designing that small space into a permaculture dream.
The ''problem' is that we are ready and can't figure out how to wait patiently for this place to sell...we intend to find the right buyer who will see what we have done here as a stepping stone...I know this is a problem that many have, wanting to sell to someone who will continue the work and appreciate the land. It is one of those circular problems, where we can't take a step without selling this place...we need the money to buy another...we have a possibility of very low rent at a less than ideal spot near this town but don't think having two places would make sense...and certainly wouldn't be less work.
Trying to look at the 'problem' as the 'solution' isn't working for me.......so I thought I would throw this out here in permie land for some 'out of the box' thinking. Sometimes just writing thoughts out helps but I am afraid this may sound a bit muddled....This isn't the thread on 'aging in place on the homestead'...it is 'how in the world do you leave?'
And to put things in perspective, where we are at now, this place and the work that we do is all that we envisioned in our idealistic twenties...the thing it is lacking is close community, without a drive to somewhere else....a cyber community is wonderful and something I treasure, but doesn't replace the real thing for me.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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Hi Judith,

My first idea is that while renting can have it's own share of headaches, you might open up a set of opportunities by finding a renter that wants to take on the lifestyle you have now. Using that rental income to expand your rental/purchase options in town could work out. You have to be careful, though. I wouldn't recommend renting to a friend or family member, especially if you need to rely on the rental income to any extent. Renting as an income source means you have to keep a professional distance so you can evict someone if needed if they get 3 months behind. So, needless to say, it's paramount that you find a good renter. Contacting a property manager might be helpful as well. For 10% of the rent, they will handle the late night phone calls, the rent checks, the notices, the contracts, the search for renters, contractors, etc. You have all authority, but they do the work. It's really a decent way to maintain property and income with low input.

While you have a renter at your property, you can also have your property on the market to sell, and it can add value that you have a stable renter in place.

There are some other things as you dig deeper that could benefit you. If your renter is maintaining some level of perennial food production, you could perhaps still harvest from that.

You could also have two rental contracts, house and land. One person wants to live in a nice private location, another just wants a plot to farm.

Land ownership is a great thing and can yield a lot of income and security if it's handled well. I recommend talking with your accountant/lawyer people to advise on these issues, especially on initial planning and final contracts.

Good luck!
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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The only thing worse than taking a long time to sell is selling before you are really ready. Start packing now! We sold our place and closed in less than 30 days, didn't have a temporary place lined up, the house build wasn't even finished being drawn up...it is exhausting just to think about how we got all that done.

Since you have a destination in mind, if you can swing it, I would be spending a lot of time there now, getting involved so new relationships are in place even before I move. We did just that while camping on our land (we are a block from the town center). There's always a pancake breakfast or fun run that needs a volunteer to take tickets or sweep up after. As a result, we have more of a social life here than we ever did in the big city.

Surprising to me is how Facebook is the main info source in our area. There's a group for things for sale and barter, another for news and gossip, and every activity or interest group has one. I don't really enjoy the FB experience, but that's how stuff gets done, so I do check in occasionally. Otherwise I'd miss open-mike night at the pizza place, the animal welfare fundraiser yard sale, and the season opening party at the coop gallery. It used to be I'd find out about stuff at the post office bulletin board, but FB has trumped that medium. But getting a PO box is a good thing, because that's where we get the local weekly and run into folks for real conversation.

What an adventure! Good luck in finding the next great place.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5726
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
323
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@ George, thank you, I like the idea of renting our home and forty acres until it sells or maybe a rent to own or long term lease... we had not explored that line of thinking and what it would involve. We just spent our daily woods walk discussing the possibilities that would open up....and maybe it could work for us.

@ Ann, thank you also... I am methodically giving things away and slipping other things into our sons homes with moving in mind. it is so easy to get weighted down with stuff if you stay in one place awhile.....no packing yet but definitely looking at the things that we want to take with us. I hitchhiked to arkansas in 1973 with a backpack and a couple garden implements...I can't believe the things we have accumulated along the way...mostly family things, though and thrift store/yard sale finds....things related to our work in craft.
I should have mentioned that this small town is less than forty miles from us now and is a town we spend a lot of time in as our son and family live there...they are certainly part of the attraction to that community although that area is one we have always felt drawn to.
All of those small town happenings you mention...that is what I think I am beginning to miss. You sound as though you have the best of both worlds if you are that close to the town center.
....and you are so right...it is exciting and the next big adventure!
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I wonder what lessons might be had from our misadventures with the same kind of thinking. We tried to move to town three times in the last five years, and after meeting disaster every time, have resigned ourselves to living "in the middle of nowhere" for the rest of our days or until it becomes physically impossible. I suppose part of it is because we've lived in the rurals so long that our people skills and drama tolerance have suffered. We always seem to have at least one neighbor from hell wherever we've lived, but in the rurals the distance alleviates the drama. Then there's the profound disappointment in our "friends" who would greet us as kindred souls when we would come to visit a few times a year, but who didn't have time for us when we moved into their neighborhood! I was also endlessly frustrated by the interference, potential and actual, with what I wanted to do with the yard or the house (think animals, humanure, gray water, etc.) and the necessity to do such things in hiding and be careful who finds out, etc…which just isn't as strong out in the country.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5726
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Alder, yeah, neighbors...within earshot I think I will have trouble with the noise level and light pollution...I guess I will find out if my day to day people skills that weren't so great to begin with, have left me completely. This is one reason we want at least an acre or two...the town, really a village, still has bits of farms within the city limits with cows and chickens....remnants of outhouses, big gardens, wood heat... this small town for some reason has been able to keep it's more rural nature and we are pretty sure that on an acre or two we could easily keep most of our country habits.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5726
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
323
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Alder Burns wrote:I wonder what lessons might be had from our misadventures with the same kind of thinking. We tried to move to town three times in the last five years, and after meeting disaster every time, have resigned ourselves to living "in the middle of nowhere" for the rest of our days or until it becomes physically impossible. I suppose part of it is because we've lived in the rurals so long that our people skills and drama tolerance have suffered. We always seem to have at least one neighbor from hell wherever we've lived, but in the rurals the distance alleviates the drama. Then there's the profound disappointment in our "friends" who would greet us as kindred souls when we would come to visit a few times a year, but who didn't have time for us when we moved into their neighborhood! I was also endlessly frustrated by the interference, potential and actual, with what I wanted to do with the yard or the house (think animals, humanure, gray water, etc.) and the necessity to do such things in hiding and be careful who finds out, etc…which just isn't as strong out in the country.


Alder, now I am wondering.....if you attempted this three times were you able to hang on to your land in the mean time? and did you move to the same town each time? I know some things just won't be apparent for awhile, until we settle in.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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All three times we had our original homestead on the market, but it did not sell (and so was there for us to go back to, which we did between each misadventure) until we had settled into another back-of-beyond place in CA. We either rented or bought small spaces, with a view to their being transitional until the homestead sold, and then it ended up selling for way less than we'd hoped….so we've downsized from 40 acres to 1 1/2. Still rural, but of a scale more compatible with fifty something levels of ambition….
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5726
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
323
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Well, we did it! and so far it has all been smooth and as wonderful as we hoped

I think mostly because we knew the town well and because we already had friends and family here so the transition was really nothing to have worried about.

The house and bit of land that we bought is on a dead end street on the edge of town....looking out the back it feels like we are still in the woods and even has a small creek at the very edge...out the front is a street but no traffic....nice neighbors...two of them have goats and chickens and turkeys...no restrictions here, we were able to fence and bring our two sheep and just got eight chickens.

Besides some serious issues with the house that we are slowly fixing, the only thing we have been having 'problems' with is using a flush toilet but for the time being it's the only choice.

And even better, the soil is creek bottom and deep and black and rocks are rare.....We've struggled with rocky soil for forty years and finally have some wonderful garden soil right off.....

The best part is that we sold our forty acres to a couple who are into permaculture and have big plans to turn it in to a farm along those lines. We are still in touch and can go visit when we want........
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Yay, good to hear all is going well Judith !
 
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