Ten tips for buying a house in the country

Buying a house in the country
Which country property is right for you?
Why even buy a house?

On the path to financial independence buying a house can have a huge impact, both positive and negative. There are major advantages to renting, and some bloggers advocate renting forever. But renting has its downsides. Being in a rental means you may not be able to modify your property to your liking. It also means that improving the property benefits someone else financially. Finally there is a major lack of control; if the owner decides to sell the property when the lease is up, you are now looking for a new place.

Tip 1. Avoiding societal programming when buying a house

There are a lot of ads that promote the idea that ‘owning your own home’ is a major life achievement. But let’s analyze this for a minute. First, why does the real estate industry use the word home instead of house? Are you buying a home or a house? If you buy a house and you put down 1%, do you really ‘own a home’? You have a mortgage and the rights to live in the house. If the house increases in value you will reap the rewards. But if the market is flat or it decreases in value you also suffer the consequences. If you buy the house outright with cash, clearly you are a ‘house-owner’. That’s it, you either own a house or you don’t. Make sure the emotion of a ‘home’ is distinct from a house.

Tip 2. Run the numbers

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Country living: Two tractors are better than one

My first John Deere tractor

When we bought the homestead we negotiated a 1969 John Deere 1020 tractor in the deal. It’s big, weighs a lot, and has a powerful bucket. When we bought it I didn’t even know if it was diesel or gas and hadn’t even ran it, just trusted the sellers that it ran and the PTO (power take off) was live. After we moved in it took awhile for me to get to evaluating it. It fired up as advertised, and the hydraulics and PTO worked, but it needed some work. The hydraulics were leaking from below the levers and the muffler needed to be patched and better attached to the exhaust manifold. Rather than buy a new muffler I just patched it with some Permatex 80333 Muffler and Tailpipe Putty. For the hydraulics, I removed the parts that were leaking and took it to my local NAPA dealer. We live in farm country and they have an extensive selection of hydraulic parts. I got the pieces I needed (after 2 trips) and got it repaired. I changed the oil and filter, cleaned the air filter, and made sure the hydraulic oil was at the right level.

How to approach mowing 8 acres?

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Country living: Rototilling the garden

Why have a garden?

There is something satisfying about growing your own food. And there are advantages of a garden versus having chickens or larger animals. First you don’t have to butcher a head of lettuce or remove its feathers. Second, you can leave a garden unattended for a few days. Third, my garden doesn’t make a lot of noise. From a financial point of view you can save some money but if you include your cost of labor you will find it doesn’t pay. But a home-made salad, fresh strawberries, or a meal where most of it came from the garden is satisfying.

Starting the garden

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Country living, contract or do it yourself?

To me a major reason to live in the country is to take part in outdoor activities, so fencing, landscaping, pruning are all jobs I would rather do myself. On the other end are jobs that require many specialized tools, heavy equipment, significant knowledge or major ramifications if it is done incorrectly. For those I’d prefer to hire a contractor. Another consideration for contract or do it yourself is what you enjoy and what irritates you. And of course safety, I don’t want to do jobs where I have to be on the roof.

In our first 6 years we have:

Done ourselves Hired a contractor
 pellet stove repair central furnace repair
 exterior painting first story
painting above first story
 spraying weeds haying (for DWs horse)
landscaping/pruning/mowing  driveway gravel
minor plumbing major plumbing
 tractor repair/maintenance
 concrete for pole barn
barn/outbuilding repair
 septic maintenance
gutter cleaning  
Haying, concrete, gravel and toilets

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Rural internet: T-mobile with Binge On

Initial rural internet setup with USB modem and router

Having literally just bought the farm in 2011 one of the first things we needed was internet. Unfortunately due to our rural location, the options were limited. No cable or DSL. The previous owners had satellite internet service but said they weren’t particularly pleased with it. The satellite provider for our address required a long term contract and there was a charge for installation. Instead we went with cell phone internet (AT&T). Our initial setup consisted of a usb modem connected to a 3g router. It did not require a long term contract and worked well. We stuck with an AT&T 5 gb data per month plan for a year or so but our data usage was increasing, so we switched to Verizon which had plans with more data. Our setup with Verizon was similar except we had a 4G LTE usb modem connected to a 4g router that allowed use of an external antenna that was mounted outside the house. We had a faster setup and more data, and we were happy with the service, but it was also more expensive. As of 6-23-2017 Verizon lists their data only plan of 20 gb for $110 per month. Continue reading “Rural internet: T-mobile with Binge On”