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gardener
Posts: 4406
Location: Southern Illinois
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John,

Like you, I like to think that the more land the better.  I would love to expand my current property.  I originally happened on the 5 acre number thinking that 10% could be buildings, roadways, garden and fruit patch.  90% I would leave mostly untouched—maybe clean up some deadwood in a small woodlot, maybe rake leaves in woodlot for the garden, maybe mow open, cleared land.  Also I thought 5 acres would be affordable.  I did not have plans for livestock; that would likely require more land.

As it was, the 9 acres we found by happenstance was just about perfectly located—a 5 minute drive to school for me yet by all appearances, far out in the countryside.

In the end, I suppose we all have our own ideal “minimum” amount of acreage for our own dreams.

Eric
 
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oh the heartache I've seen. . . . okay: first the necessary unpleasantness. Before you buy (in the USA); go to county code enforcement. For example Thurston County in Washington
state has 53 different legal "zones", many of which the current owners may not be aware of.  Your lovely dry grassy pasture may be a "wetland" that you cannot even put a path on, never mind build anything. It may be a "flood zone" that prevents or requires insurance. There may be setbacks, right of ways, access rights, mineral or water rights that do not come with owning the property. That all translates to people can suddenly show up and build a driveway through your garden or hook up to your well. The Department of Making You Sad (Code Enforcement)  would rather warn you not to than have to come tell you to tear it down.  Ask them, can you build outbuildings, can you add to the house (or is the septic only approved for one bedroom  and you already know that the house has 2). Who gets billed for road maintenance/snow plowing/weed abatement?  Be sure you understand what terms like "repair" & "replace" mean in the local codes. Throwing a wheel barrel of gravel on a bare spot is repair.  A one-yard load of gravel, that's a 3 foot pile, to spread around may be a rebuild. Happened to friends. They were happily spreading gravel when a neighbor drove by. He went down to Code Enforcement. Turns out if you rebuild a driveway that accesses the paved road you are required to put in a culvert. The neighbor wasn't mad at them, he was mad the county made him put in a culvert. Speaking of neighbors, go the $$ to get one of those background check services and check everyone whos' property adjoins the one you want to buy, both the owners and the tenants especially if they are absent owners .  Get a map and drive every road within a 2 mile radius of the place you want to buy.  Why you ask? Because drugs are a large part of many rural economies and usually those properties are visibly junky &/or high traffic.  Speaking of crime, go to the local law enforcement & find out, are you a joint enforcement area? Or right on the edge of 2 areas? That translates to prolonged wait times for law enforcement should you need them.  While you're at the local sheriff dept ask to review their crime log.  You want to know if there are frequent burglaries/vandalism in the area, calls to a particular address, ANY dog attacks, frequent drunken auto accidents on your road.  Are you going to be in one of those small joint use water systems? A friend just found out the well & pumphouse she has been paying for, on her property, was actually supplying 4 other properties. Those 4 other owners had apparently never thought about where their water came from & had not paid anyone for years. They are not interested in even discussing the costs. She can't shut them off because it is a "System" per the county and the original developer is long gone. Check the tax records for that property, are there unpaid leins? If taxes are trending down maybe you are paying too much - Or maybe you"ll be able to add the neighboring lot in a few years. Can the people you are buying from tell you where the main water lines are?  Where the septic drain field is? Are there trees growing on the drain field? Is it where when the county widens the road you'll have to move it? Is the property fenced? No? then be prepared for lots of people who are used to hunting etc on your land.  If a neighbor is used to using 30 feet into the edge of your pasture he'll be pissed if you build a fence. Go the $$ to have it surveyed  before you buy.  In any rural area city folks will dump pets, decide what you and your budget can do because most Animal Control districts will not respond to "feral" cats. If the dream property still looks good then go around and knock on doors. Ask friendly "I want to buy here, do y'all have  trouble with coyotes?" type questions. The idea is to get face to face with the neighbors Before You Buy. Are they creepy? Too friendly or hostile? Visibly drunk or drugged? Have problematic aggressive type dogs? Farm animals that look unhealthy?  If they say things like "thank god ol' man jones will be gone" maybe they like to fight with neighbors so go back and ask the people you are buying from.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1018
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Everything Leigh said!!!  

I would add, think of fire risk.  Are you on your own, no hydrants?  If so, seriously consider having a water source that can be tapped into in the event of an emergency.
 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Kentucky
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leigh gates wrote:oh the heartache I've seen. . . . okay: first the necessary unpleasantness. Before you buy (in the USA); go to county code enforcement. For example Thurston County in Washington
state has 53 different legal "zones", many of which the current owners may not be aware of.  Your lovely dry grassy pasture may be a "wetland" that you cannot even put a path on, never mind build anything. It may be a "flood zone" that prevents or requires insurance. There may be setbacks, right of ways, access rights, mineral or water rights that do not come with owning the property. That all translates to people can suddenly show up and build a driveway through your garden or hook up to your well. The Department of Making You Sad (Code Enforcement)  would rather warn you not to than have to come tell you to tear it down.  Ask them, can you build outbuildings, can you add to the house (or is the septic only approved for one bedroom  and you already know that the house has 2). Who gets billed for road maintenance/snow plowing/weed abatement?  Be sure you understand what terms like "repair" & "replace" mean in the local codes. Throwing a wheel barrel of gravel on a bare spot is repair.  A one-yard load of gravel, that's a 3 foot pile, to spread around may be a rebuild. Happened to friends. They were happily spreading gravel when a neighbor drove by. He went down to Code Enforcement. Turns out if you rebuild a driveway that accesses the paved road you are required to put in a culvert. The neighbor wasn't mad at them, he was mad the county made him put in a culvert. Speaking of neighbors, go the $$ to get one of those background check services and check everyone whos' property adjoins the one you want to buy, both the owners and the tenants especially if they are absent owners .  Get a map and drive every road within a 2 mile radius of the place you want to buy.  Why you ask? Because drugs are a large part of many rural economies and usually those properties are visibly junky &/or high traffic.  Speaking of crime, go to the local law enforcement & find out, are you a joint enforcement area? Or right on the edge of 2 areas? That translates to prolonged wait times for law enforcement should you need them.  While you're at the local sheriff dept ask to review their crime log.  You want to know if there are frequent burglaries/vandalism in the area, calls to a particular address, ANY dog attacks, frequent drunken auto accidents on your road.  Are you going to be in one of those small joint use water systems? A friend just found out the well & pumphouse she has been paying for, on her property, was actually supplying 4 other properties. Those 4 other owners had apparently never thought about where their water came from & had not paid anyone for years. They are not interested in even discussing the costs. She can't shut them off because it is a "System" per the county and the original developer is long gone. Check the tax records for that property, are there unpaid leins? If taxes are trending down maybe you are paying too much - Or maybe you"ll be able to add the neighboring lot in a few years. Can the people you are buying from tell you where the main water lines are?  Where the septic drain field is? Are there trees growing on the drain field? Is it where when the county widens the road you'll have to move it? Is the property fenced? No? then be prepared for lots of people who are used to hunting etc on your land.  If a neighbor is used to using 30 feet into the edge of your pasture he'll be pissed if you build a fence. Go the $$ to have it surveyed  before you buy.  In any rural area city folks will dump pets, decide what you and your budget can do because most Animal Control districts will not respond to "feral" cats. If the dream property still looks good then go around and knock on doors. Ask friendly "I want to buy here, do y'all have  trouble with coyotes?" type questions. The idea is to get face to face with the neighbors Before You Buy. Are they creepy? Too friendly or hostile? Visibly drunk or drugged? Have problematic aggressive type dogs? Farm animals that look unhealthy?  If they say things like "thank god ol' man jones will be gone" maybe they like to fight with neighbors so go back and ask the people you are buying from.



My mother lives in Thurston county, and bought a 10 acre field adjacent to her house to prevent someone from building on it, only to learn that because of some sort of threatened ground squirrel or gopher or something, they can't do anything with the property, outside of running animals on it, but they're vegetarians so aren't really even enthusiastic about that.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 314
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
85
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leigh gates wrote:oh the heartache I've seen. . . . okay: first the necessary unpleasantness.


WOW Leigh… I must say that after I read your input I’m 10 times more grateful (I was already extremely grateful) for the country I chose to live in (Spain), the tiny island with easy-going island mentality (Tenerife) and the local people around the finca we bought (we’re 4 miles away from the village, with no neighbors - but the whole atmosphere is relaxed and friendly)…
Thank you for putting my situation in a new perspective…
 
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