It’s Cheaper to Live in the Country… or Is It?
I have heard this so often I could gag. No! It is not cheaper to live in the country! If you are extremely handy and good at repairing things, if you have a double, triple green thumb and everything you plant grows in leaps and bounds, if you detest eating out or going to movies, and if you don’t mind wearing second-hand clothes you might be able to live in the country a bit cheaper than how you lived in the city. The bulk of your expenditure is going to be on gas and animal feed. You’re going to have vet bills. You might have to buy a truck load or two or three of water if you experience a drought. Tools and equipment, seed or sets cost money. If you have to hire someone to clean the chimney or service the air conditioner it costs you more because the technician charges you travel time. In town your acreage is comparatively small. Large acreage takes tractors, riding lawn mowers, and a host of other equipment. Some of it you can rent. Others you might need to buy. Let’s just say this right out loud: learn to be frugal or go broke. The good thing is once you’ve accumulated your infrastructure and learn how to take care of it you won’t have to buy a lot. After the initial start-up expenditures will go down.
Photo by Pixabay
Shopping Is Different
The next thing that is very different from town life is the proximity of the store or the availability of goods. This is why Amazon is so popular with those who live in the country. The nearest decent store might be an hour or two away. You have to start compiling a list of supplies and postpone the trip until you have a lot of things to get all at once. It’s becomes quickly apparent that you can’t waste the gas or the time for one thing. Here’s a tip: when you go to the store (especially the hardware store) get two of everything. This is so when you need something you have a spare ready and waiting. This goes for animal feed, too. Always buy in bulk. Learn how to cook with creativity when you run out of an ingredient.
Health Services Are Different
If you live way out in the sticks you will have to fend for yourself most of the time. If you’re smart you will buy a rider on your insurance policy for helicopter medical service. We had an old gentleman fall off his horse once and get stomped by a cow. His ear was hanging by a thread and his arm was hanging limply by his side. And yet, despite this, he said, no, I’ll drive myself to the emergency room. He didn’t have health insurance much less a rider on his policy for a Medevac. We didn’t let him, of course, and his dog stood in front of his truck and wouldn’t budge so the old man couldn’t go anywhere. But we knew that it was futile to call for an ambulance because the ambulance would be slower than letting him drive himself to the hospital. We cleaned him up and drove him to the hospital ourselves. But what if his injuries had been life threatening?
Exercise Is Different
You don’t realize how much driving you will actually do. In the city you walk more. You walk home. Maybe up-hill if you live in a hilly city. You walk to the bus. You walk to the corner store. You might walk to your neighbors. The gym is close by. In the country you hardly walk at all. The kind of exercise you get in the country is the “weight” lifting kind. Lifting hay bales. Lifting water buckets. Lifting animals. Pulling weeds. Hauling lumber and fence posts. You can get as much aerobic exercise as you want but you have to make it happen. You can take up cross country skiing, off road biking or running. Your lifestyle will not naturally enfold this type of exercise. You will have to make it happen yourself.
The House Is the Same
I write only a paragraph about the house because the house is like any other house you might want to buy, city or country alike. The things to investigate are the same things you would investigate if you were buying a home in the city. City or country but especially country, I counsel my buyers to purchase a home warranty policy. This kind of policy covers smaller things like the air conditioner, dishwasher, and well. When we bought our property I am glad we had a home warranty. The day we moved in the pump on the well failed. Instead of paying thousands we only paid a little over $1,000.
The Right Agent Is a Necessity
Once you’ve determined your area, have your must-have list and your finance ducks in a row then it’s time to find a good real estate professional from the area you want to look at. I don’t like to malign members of my profession but not all real estate agents are created equally. Most agents sell homes in the city. They don’t know anything more about country property than you do and the house is not the most important part of your country property. When you look at the listings on the search engines you might see a description that says it’s great property for livestock but no pictures of the land. Why is that? Because town agents don't think it's that important. Even real estate agents who live in the country may not know that much about the country. They live in the country, yes, but that’s all they do. They commute from the country to sell homes in the city. When we bought our property we engaged the services of a local agent. We had a simple list of what we wanted. Flat or nearly flat land, mature trees, and NO rock. What did the agent show us? Houses on the side of hills, lots of rock and immature trees. Some agents think you don’t know what you really want. If you can, make sure you get an agent who has lived a rural lifestyle similar to the one you would like to live.
Living in the country is a wonderful life. The birds truly do sing. The air is definitely sweet. It’s a very peaceful, fulfilling, natural and healthy choice of lifestyles. I recommend it to anyone who goes in with their eyes wide open. I know then that they will enjoy their life and not regret it.
I see you there waving from the porch as I drive by! Howdy, neighbor!
Renee grew up in Iowa and migrated to San Francisco in 1977. She lived and worked in an urban setting for years and then abandoned it all to live and work on a 1,000 acre cattle ranch in Northern California. Now she is part owner of a small acreage in the Central Valley of California where she has chickens, horses, dogs, cats and a substantial vegetable garden. She is a full-time real estate agent which sounds improbable when you think about all the projects on her property. Kudos to her husband Marty for filling in the gaps.