Finding Our Homestead
So many people are interested in the homesteading lifestyle, they’re everywhere! Urbanites, suburbanites, apartment and condo dwellers, 20 somethings and old timers too…from all walks of life there are folks who want to move out to the country and eat a lot of peaches. In other words, they all want to go homesteady!
I was in the same shoes not too long ago. We felt like we were stuck in the suburban world (not that it’s all bad) with no way to buy some land and start our homesteading journey. I grew up on a small ‘farmette,’ and that is how I want to spend the rest of my life too. But land costs money, lots of money, and we didn’t think we’d ever get the chance to buy up our little slice of heaven.
Then the housing crash happened. It was a bad time to be a homeowner. The equity in our 2 story Colonial home in suburbia went sour. Sigh. I felt rather despondent about our prospects of moving to a rural agricultural place with a little barn and pasture for chickens and cattle and goats. Oh my! I had my heart set on a 5 – 10 acre property with a 4 bedroom home and an attached garage. But those were way out of our price range.
There are a lot of great things about living in a subdivision and you can do an awful lot on a suburban lot. In my quest for more self sufficiency, I turned most of our property into a garden and orchard and raised meat rabbits. We lived in a great neighborhood and had a lot of nice neighbors. But I really wanted chickens and a bigger garden. I already had the growing, canning, freezing, dehydrating and preparing and butchering part going on. But the rabbits weren’t exactly allowed as livestock and I wanted to have a little more freedom to homestead.
So we had been hoping to sell and find a rural place, but then our property value went down. Would we even be able to sell? Places were sitting on the market for a long time and the price kept dropping. But because the value of all property in our area declined, we started to think about our situation in a new light. Even though we couldn’t sell our home for what we thought it was worth, no one else could either. That meant that some of the rural properties we were interested in might actually be in our price range. My husband’s job was stable and we could afford a bit more toward our mortgage. We have been pretty frugal and had good credit. The time seemed right. We started getting our home ready, put it on the market, and began our search.
Even though it seemed like we were in a good position to buy, we had to compromise a great deal on what we could afford. We ended up downsizing the dream, and purchased a home that is smaller than our previous house, with less land than we wanted. But it fits our needs, and we aren’t house poor. We found a buyer for our old house because we negotiated on the price.
Everything worked out because we sat down and re-evaluated what we needed to be happy. We needed a large sunny area for a vegetable garden and fruit trees, a property zoned for livestock (chickens are not allowed in town around here), and a home with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. The barn and extra acreage for larger livestock was not a necessity, so we compromised. There were some really interesting decor choices and outdated everything in the house, which turned a lot of potential buyers off, but we can see past those things. There were also quite a few repairs needed, and we can handle that a little at a time. But it is structurally sound. If we had remained set on what we ‘had’ to have, we would have missed out on our homesteading dream. You really have to want this lifestyle and be willing to make those compromises.
Would this work for everyone? No! Does it mean that you can find a suitable home in your budget? Not necessarily. But if you are willing to live with a smaller home, fix it up, live more frugally, and/or make concessions on the decor and style of home you purchase, you might be able to do what we did. Unfortunately there are still a lot of homeowners facing foreclosure and the prices haven’t rebounded. So there may still be a bargain in your price range. Whatever you do, don’t take out a mortgage that puts you at risk of defaulting. That is not a sustainable way of life. Check into the property codes to see if you can have livestock. Have a home inspection done. Get friends who are knowledgeable about home repairs to come with you to look at properties. Make your offer contingent o a satisfactory inspection to cover your assets. Make sure you have a buyer for your old house. Never put yourself at risk of paying 2 mortgages.
If you can’t afford it, or the repairs are too expensive…don’t buy it! You are much better off staying where you are and making the best of it. The next post in this series will deal with just that, making the best of your current situation. Stay tuned for the next edition of “Wanna Go Homesteady?”
Have you recently moved to a homestead? I’d love to hear your experiences!