08/26/2018 at 11:20 pm #48011
Well I’ve finally done it. I recently listed my small urban house near the beach for sale. For about 1/3 to 1/2 the sale price, I should be able to purchase a larger home with acreage in the country (desert).
I won’t go into all the details here, but this decision has been a long time coming. Life is about making choices and being decisive.
Also, I have family in the area, so it’s not a blind move, based only on finances.
For the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve been slowly moving my stuff, including my Ebay inventory, to a storage unit close to the new area. To eliminate any late shipments, I’ve moved my handling time to 15 business days. I’ve also temporarily stopped sourcing and listing. My sales are way down, but that’s to be expected.
Since it’s just me and the dog, there is no urgency to find a new place, however it is important to sell my present house soon, due to market conditions.
I’ve never lived in a rural area. There are many questions I’ve never considered, that I must think about now.
Do I want to live on a paved road, dirt road or very rustic dirt road ? (think four wheel drive).
Do I need electricity? (I say yes).
Do I want natural gas, propane or just go all electric.?
DO I want wood burning stove ? (I say yes).
Do I want city water or my own well. There are also properties with neither and the water is trucked in.
Do I need the Mail to be delivered all the way to my door?
How big a lot do I want ? I’ve seen houses with 1/2 acre all the way to 40 acres. I’ll probably end up with 1 to 5 acres.
Then there are all the usual variations, size of the house, condition and age of the house and the number of out buildings.
High speed internet will be a real challenge, but I should have more than enough to run my business.
I’ll still be in Southern California, but will experience all four seasons.
Any advice on rural living is appreciated.
08/27/2018 at 7:37 am #48015
In a rural area, there are different levels are rural.
–Having a well or city water is ideal. I would not want a place where I trucked my own water in.
–Access to reasonably fast internet was our deciding decision of where to live. Satellite internet is not a viable option.
–Paved or gravel roads are fine. Needing a 4-wheel drive truck would be a pain in the butt.
–The size of your lot depends on how much privacy you want. We have two acres, but still have houses close by. Luckily we have good neighbors. Im assuming in Socal there isnt much upkeep on land since its a desert.
–Having USPS pick up at our home is the best.
–We’re rural but only 10 minutes from the closest small town. Then 30 minutes from two larger towns with everything available. I dont think id want to be more rural than this.
Congrats on the financial decision. What will you do with the money you save on buying a cheaper house? I assume you’ll sell for $400k and buy for $200k?0
08/27/2018 at 11:32 am #48050
I agree, passable roads, water and electricity seem to be non negotiable options for me.
Internet will probably be satellite or by cell phone. I’ve been using the cell phone for years (ex trucker), so to keep doing so is no big deal to me. Whenever, I check the reviews for the satellite companies they seem to be disasters.
I’ll be less than 20 miles away from a population center, with all the big box stores and conveniences. The town I’ll be in has a couple of stores, so the necessities are available, if needed.
Your numbers are in the ball park, although $400K won’t get you a starter home around here. The real estate market is absolutely nuts.
If I play my cards right, I’ll be able to pay off some recent debt and also have a home without a mortgage.
08/27/2018 at 11:02 am #48042
- Location: Texas
Hey So Cal, welcome to the delightful world of rural living! We’re more rural than J&R. We live 8 miles out of the smallest town (it has one Dollar General, one library, two churches, a hardware store, and a post office) and 20 miles from the nearest reasonably sized town. We shop once a week in the big town, and pick up odds like milk or stuff we might run out of when we go on our run to the post office. You’ll get into the habit of combining trips a lot. “If I’m in town to do X today, I’ll add in Y and Z and ABC.” Or… “I can’t wait until my weekly trip to do F, so what else can I get down while I’m there?”
Speaking of shopping, when you buy stuff, the first time buy two of each item: one to use, one to store. When something is used up, you take the stored one and then you replace it. It’s too far to travel for items you’ve run out of.
4WD roads are great if you’re anti-social. However, if you like having visitors occasionally, a dirt road is about the worst you can go. Not only that, it gets really old really fast having to drive 4WD tracks. I’ve done it for months at a time and I can tell you, it’s so much nicer to have a dirt road! We have a caliche road that the council maintains for most of our route, the last half mile or so is private road and we maintain it ourselves. We have to have a tractor and a box blade to do it. Consider if you want to have a tractor and the expense of running one.
Yes to electricity, even if you mean to go off the grid. You can “sell” electricity once you get set up with solar or wind or whatever, but it’s good to have a back up. We don’t have gas, but we do have a wood burning stove. Wouldn’t be without it! We also have a huge supply of wood naturally at our fingertips, so that helps. Give thought to the size of your house for heating via wood. Our house is just under 1,000 sq ft and our Franklin does a fairly good job of getting it warmed up. The insulation in our house is above standard, so that helps. If we didn’t have such good insulation, we’d have a problem. If your house is going to be bigger, you’ll need more stoves, or you’ll need to top up with an alternate method (gas or electric.) We have central air, with cooling and heating and, by getting the house warmed up with the stove, we only run the heating from bedtime until we rise. We keep the stove going for the rest of the time, and our electric bill is very low. I do have an oil heater in the bathroom, a small one. It stays on all night during the winter.
City water or a well, either will work. Definitely invest in one of them. Also consider adding a rainwater catchment system. Our house is odd; a long rectangle divided in half down the center line. The back of the house is one long roof and we installed a seamless gutter the full length of it. The front of the house is stepped, with four different sections. Each section has its own seamless gutter. One section has a 200 gallon rainwater tank. It filled up in the first rainstorm! A neighbor a little way off has installed three 5,000 gallon tanks and has hooked them up to a filter system to run the house entirely off rainwater. There is a well that pumps only when the tanks run low, so he has a back up. We plan to install one 5,000 gallon tank above our house and have the well pump into it only once a day (it currently pumps on demand) which will reduce our electric bill, improve water pressure, and ensure we’re not out of water if the pump breaks. Eventually we’re going to add rainwater tanks to each gutter section.
The post office doesn’t deliver to us. We have cluster boxes on the main highway two miles away, and I make a run as often as needed to the post office 8 miles away.
We have 32 acres of which 8 acres are fenced off as “homestead” area, the rest of the property is wild. When we were first looking for land, we wanted LAND and got the most we could afford. Having been out here for the past three years, I can tell you it’s wasted. We’re paying taxes on property that we don’t use and can’t use, as it’s the side of a mountain. The homestead is plenty big enough. Probably too big! We could drop to 5 acres and not feel a pinch. The one point that I think makes a difference, though, is that our place is off a road off the main road. The only people who pass our house actually live round here or visit. And there are only two houses past us. In other words, we have very little passing traffic (although one neighbor appears to alleviate boredom by driving up and down the road every half an hour!)
We really wanted land, so we compromised on buildings. Then we spent thousands of dollars adding fencing and upgrading. In hindsight, we’d have been better off adding those thousands to the price of the property and getting some decent outbuildings and a better house. There was some misrepresentation about who built our house, we were told it was built by ABC* Construction, but after we took possession we found out that the letters stood for the initials of the owners, not any true construction company. Rural rules aren’t as strict as town, so the standard of building is dreadful. While the insulation was excellent, there’s not a straight wall in the place and there are so many issues that need to be addressed. (*not the real initials) Points for you to consider.
In closing, I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything, even if it is inconvenient in many ways (internet and phones, for example. We have NO cell coverage. At all!) There’s nothing to beat my views, seeing wild deer and rabbits graze in the back garden, hearing coyote packs hunt in the night, or watching the stars from my back deck. There are downsides, of course, but they’re minor compared to the positives.
Good luck on your move!1+
08/27/2018 at 12:05 pm #48053
Wow.. you guys are out there.. great post and good advice.
I see homes with upwards of 40 acres (mostly in the more rural areas.) I’m tempted, but it appears, big is not always better.
In reality 5 acres with some functional out buildings would probably be more than large enough. It’s not uncommon to just bring in a 40 foot storage container and use it as an out building. I’m also not adverse to just having a large metal building out up with a concrete foundation.
Most of the properties, reasonably close to town, either have city water (mutual water company) or have their own wells. In the end as long as one or the other exists, I’ll be fine.
Although we get all four seasons, the winters are mild, compared to most areas. Just the same, I do want a wood burning stove and they are fairly common. The town has free firewood available for residents, you just need to cut it up.
Most of the homes also have swap coolers for the summers. It will take a while to get used to the heat, but I’m not overly concerned.
I’m looking forward to the change. The lack of local jobs is what keeps the housing so reasonable, which is fine for me.
I’ve already been told by my relatives to always combine trips and maybe get a dedicated freezer. I’ll have to start making lists.. no more impulse purchases.
I won’t miss the traffic, at my present area.
Hopefully it will all work out.
Thanks for the post..0
08/27/2018 at 1:01 pm #48057
- Location: East TN
I second the notion of not buying more land than you need. We have 7 acres and spend a lot of gas, time and money mowing, weed whacking and otherwise maintaining it. We like the buffer from neighbors/noise but still bit off more than we need to chew. We get a lot of rain here so mowing is a 3 season chore.0
09/10/2018 at 5:58 pm #48578
Thanks everyone for the comments.
The house I’m selling is now in escrow. It’s a real short escrow.. so go go go…
The rest of my stuff will be in storage very soon. I’m not sure what I’ll do short term..maybe get a small used camper or do the Airbnb thing for a while. For the long term of course, I’ll need to find a home.
Having a 15 day handling time has been liberating. Most of my items are shipping within 2 or 3 business days, but there’s just no stress about my shipping statistics. Today I went to the post office and there was a line at the counter. Instead of waiting to get each item scanned, I just left them in the drop off box. Life is just too short to stress over nonsense.
I don’t think I’m going back to next business day shipping. It just feels too much like a job.
09/10/2018 at 6:26 pm #48580
Selling your house is the easy part. Did you get what you wanted?
How will you continue your eBay business without a home?0
09/10/2018 at 10:32 pm #48591
The real estate market seems to be slowing somewhat here, but I’m happy with the sale. It’s more than enough for me to take the next step.
All my inventory is in storage and in numbered containers. It’s all accessible and I’m still making sales. Shipping is not a problem. Before I can get back to listing and sourcing, I want to get a permanent home.
The next couple of weeks will be crazy busy for me. After that I can really start looking for my next home. Hopefully I can find a real deal.
09/11/2018 at 12:33 pm #48609
We did the airbnb when we moved across country and it worked very well. We weren’t sure how long it would take us to buy a house since the market was hot. An apartment would have locked in a lease for a certain number of months–and most apartments didn’t even offer short leases or if they did, there was a large increase in rent. Plus, most wanted proof of W-2 type income. And there were initiation fees and then all of the fees to set up utilities. We stayed with an Airbnb superhost and they were fantastic and really helped us with advice about the area and we had use of the kitchen, laundry, pool which was wonderful. This airbnb also offered a 50% discount on monthly rentals so the cost was very reasonable.
We put eBay on hold during the move and had a fire sale ahead of the move and donated a lot of lower end inventory that didn’t seem worth the cost and effort of moving. Which was a good idea in hindsight since there are more than enough sourcing options in the new location–it just is taking time to list these new death piles!
Good luck on your move!0
09/11/2018 at 1:08 pm #48611
We’re preparing for a move ourselves. I’m just waiting for my package from my current employer – every week they are cutting jobs, so I’m expecting mine any second now.
We’ve planned every detail out – just don’t know the date! We know where we want to move, know our temporary plan (family) while we look for a new place, what we are going to sell/keep around our current home, and have begun financially planning for our next place. It’s fun now, but I’m sure when the day hits my mind will be scrambling to put our plan into action.
Fortunately, I’ll have time to move – I’ll be getting a decent severance (so far everyone is that is being let go – minimum 3 months, and my tenure has been longer), and government unemployment will pay me about $600 a week for 48 weeks after that, which makes things easy.
I’ve already registered businesses for where I’m moving to (side gigs to go along side eBay sales) and just waiting for my current employer to give me the final push and $$$.1+
09/11/2018 at 8:01 pm #48634
You definitely want electricity. And a backup generator. We are lucky and live only about 2 miles from our electric company dispatch center, so our power tends to stay up, (we only lost power briefly during Harvey). A backup generator is nice insurance, however.
We have city water, but we have drinking water delivered. The water here is very hard, and the softener makes it takes kind of salty. It’s fine for cooking, cleaning, etc, but not great for drinking after it goes through the softener, and it cannot be used on plants after it goes through the softener. We do not have sewer access, but a septic system instead.
Also, you have to think about trash disposal. Will companies come out to haul your garbage? If not, you’ll have to take what you can’t compost to the dump, or burn your trash. We do not have any recycling services here, either. The nearest recycling center is 30 miles away. I used to save cans and take them in once a month, but it’s just too far.
Up until about a year ago, internet was only available via satellite. It was ok-ish, (heavy on the ish). We have fiber out here now, which is fantastic!
Our mailbox is about 1/4 mile from our house. I wish they delivered to my door. :/
What are the natural disasters that are likely to happen in your part of the country? Plan your services with them in mind. If drought is a problem, the city water might be a better option (will a well run dry during a prolonged drought?)
I have just under an acre, which is small compared to my neighbors. Most people have 2-5 acres. I wish I’d gotten more land and a smaller house.
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Liz.
09/11/2018 at 9:01 pm #48649
- Location: Virginia
you only had satellite internet and now you have fiber?? how did that happen, please i would love to know.0
09/11/2018 at 10:32 pm #48655
I think there were a few factors for getting fiber out here.
-The internet service is provided by the electric company, and we’re only 2 miles from their dispatch operations center. There are about 30 houses in my “neighborhood”, so they had a little pocket of customers to work with. If it was just one or two houses, I doubt they would have run the lines.
-We are in an area that is projected to experience large growth. I’m only 2 miles off the interstate, halfway between San Antonio and Austin. Getting lines in the ground now is prep work for when bigger developments start going up, which will probably happen within the next 5 years. Everyone is just waiting for one of these farmers to cave and a housing development will pop up.
-My husband and the neighbors complained incessantly about the crap satellite service, lol.
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Liz.
09/12/2018 at 11:48 am #48672
Yes, there is local trash pickup.
The mail service depends on the address. Many go right to the house and others are down the road.
It’s all on septic right now. Outside of summer heat and occasional wind storms, I don’t know of any weather issues. Of course, being in California means earthquakes are always a possibility.
That’s great advice on the generator. I used to use one on my Semi truck, so I’m very familiar with them and their capabilities. I imagine power for refrigeration and communications are very important, during an outage.
Thanks for the advice.0
09/11/2018 at 8:04 pm #48635
We live about 30 yards from the gravel road. That is not bad when people drive like human beings but when we have maniacs flying by at 378 MPH (possibly a slight exaggeration) and we haven’t had rain the dust boils up and gently floats through the air into my house and onto my line dried clothes!!! Otherwise I love my gravel road but if you’re looking at a house on a gravel road and there are no trees between you and the road drive down it super fast and see where the dust goes and if you can live with that. 🙂0
09/12/2018 at 12:11 am #48658
Part of my (rural) town and neighboring towns have had no high speed internet other than satellite and are now getting fiber. It took years to get state funding to help with the infrastructure buildout, and I’m guessing that the reasoning is that since they’re building from scratch, might as well do fiber. I’m one of the lucky ones who has had cable internet, so I’m not getting fiber 🙁0
09/12/2018 at 12:25 am #48660
Well the escrow on my present house just fell through. There were other interested buyers, so hopefully another will come through. My house needs updating, so it’s priced on the low side, but has a huge lot for the area.
As luck would have it, a small house on 5 acres just showed up today in the new area. There’s no garage, but it’s cheap enough that I could easily add a large steel building on a concrete slab. It’s hooked to the water company and is on a paved road with mail delivery to the house.
I just need another buyer….3+
10/31/2018 at 1:29 pm #51011
Update.. Last week my house finally sold and closed. I got about the same money as i would have from the sale that fell through. In other words it’s more than enough for me to move on.
Now however, the pickings are slim. I’m watching the new home listings very closely and trying not to be too anxious. After all this, I don’t want to end miss out on a great deal, due to impatience.
I found an OK deal now, but the house is only on 1 acre and the public records show it as a 2 bedroom 1 bath, when it is actually a 4 bedroom 2 bath. In other words, the owner added on without the proper permits. At least that’s what I’m guessing.
Is this a deal breaker. I think the big issue, would be resale. I don’t know that banks are willing to fund houses with unpermitted additions.
In the meantime, I’m floating around in motels. I’m still selling, but shipping is really a hassle. My handling time is 15 business days, but I generally ship once a week, It really doesn’t matter, because I don’t think anyone reads the listing details.
The Journey Continues.0
10/31/2018 at 1:34 pm #51012
–Are you buying the next house in cash? If so, makes like very easy and allows you to make lowball offers.
–I assume your current house taht sold is in a high value area, and you plan to buy in a lower value area?
–I’d go to the county/town planning department to ask about the unpermitted additions. Usually they are grandfathered in once you buy. Hiring an inspector will tell you if the work was done correctly.0
10/31/2018 at 9:00 pm #51028
Yes. I hope to buy the next house in cash.
The owner built the house himself back in the 1990’s. My suspicion is that, once he got the 2 bedroom house signed off, he went ahead and created living areas upstairs. I agree, an inspection is a must.
I think it’s time to get an experienced local realtor involved. They probably see these permit issues all the time.
In the meantime, I’m checking the real estate websites every day. I think I can do better.
10/31/2018 at 10:08 pm #51035
Yeah, we have always been able to do our own real estate research online, but a local realtor would be very helpful if the region is new to you. Plus as a buyer, the realtor is free.
Its pretty common for people to add onto houses without county inspections. Just make sure it’s been done right.0
11/01/2018 at 1:47 pm #51077
- Location: Southern California
Hi Joe, as buyers we went and found one of the top producers at the firm that had the most listings in the area we are living in. That broker was pleasant but assertive and very experienced. She found us our house before it was officially put on the market. Also, someone else in her office had a large number of the local foreclosure listings and was in the know on that in advance.
There is also a local website where realtors exchange “needs and wants” – agents trying to put buyers and sellers together without going full on the market to minimize their costs and labor.
We bought another house FSBO and used our loan broker / licensed realtor to write up the contract for cheap, got a great inspector and escrow did most of the work. But as Jay said, agent is free to you, so you might as well get a good one. Good luck!0
10/31/2018 at 11:07 pm #51045
Moving is a pain in the butt, but can be terribly exciting and invigorating when you come out the other side of it.
Congrats on beginning the next phase. In my experience, long term, you’re much better off to take your time and find the right place. We’ll be making a similar move next year, and the big concerns for us are internet speed, proximity to the border, proximity to family, and proximity to inventory sources. Everything else can be managed one way or another.
Following your progress, and excited for you!0
11/04/2018 at 12:18 pm #51163
I appreciate the comments and advice.
A couple more listings just came online. They seem to come in waves. One is for an older home and a mobile home (two on a lot) with 5 acres and lots of clutter. There are at least 3 shipping containers on site and the listing says all cash and as/is.
The good news is that it’s less than 1/2 the typical price. It could be the best move I’ve ever made or my biggest nightmare.. I’ll be looking further at it.
I need to slow down and maybe get some type of short term rental. Winchester gives good advice about taking my time and finding the right place.
I’ve pretty much decided on the area (town), My main concerns are condition of the house, size of the lot and proximity to the main road. Fencing and storage is also important, but can always be added later.
I think it’s going to start getting fun.
11/04/2018 at 12:25 pm #51164
Yeah, there a cascade of choices to make.
What town/county you want to live in? Sounds like you made that choice. I’d rent a place for six months to a year. Get to know the area to make sure you really like it.
Plus every area has its places that are good to live in and bad to live in. In our county, if you bought a house five miles from us, you could easily be in a part of the county that has cheap houses, but the crime is higher and community is more insulated. Only locals really know about this fact.
If a property is 1/2 price what you’d expect, doesn’t make it a bad choice. Just need to figure out why its so cheap. Could be a bad septic/well. Could be the house has known foundations problems. Most likely a fixer upper that you need to be willing to take on.1+
11/05/2018 at 1:10 am #51178
- Location: Washington State
Hi Joe I agree on the short term rental idea for sure! Motel life is no fun. find yourself a nice airbnb, and take the time you want to find the perfect place. good luck 🙂1+
11/05/2018 at 1:43 pm #51224
- Location: Washington DC
The 5 acre property sounds interesting! But I’m with Jay, I’d want to be sure I know why so cheap. Could be environmental – people do some surprising things on rural lots where no one is looking. Also check with the city/county to make sure they aren’t planning on a waste treatment plant next door or something.
We looked at a FSBO waterfront cottage once that was on a big lot close to town. It was a teardown and the owner was touting how the zoning and lot lines would allow building a big house, or even multi-family. But it took me doing some digging at the city to learn that due to wetlands and the septic nothing bigger than the existing house could be put on the lot.0
11/06/2018 at 1:43 am #51265
Well it turns out the place I thought might be unpermitted was actually permitted correctly. It’s also sold/pending. It was on the market for 8 days. At least I’m looking at the right properties.
I’ve got a line on a short term inexpensive rental with utilities included. Also. I’ll be meeting with en experienced local realtor shortly, so things should get moving.
I may take a look at the 5 acre discounted property to satisfy my curiosity, but I’d also like to see some move in ready units as well.
Thanks again for all the great comments.0
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