I have wanted to start a thread on rural land and living for quite some time. My profession is real estate and I sold my first home on January 2, 1979. I've lived through a few real estate booms and busts, but have never seen the US in such precarious straits as it is today. One plus one does equal two. One is the US is broke with our means of production and our industrial knowledge given to a Communist nation which does not wish us well. The other one is we have become a lawless nation, with the rot starting at the top and filtering down to all levels of society. For me that one plus one means that unemployed, hungry, lawless folks will eventually make city living extremely dangerous, especially when Food Stamps, rent subsidies, etc are reduced or ended entirely. I do not want to be in the city when that occurs. That is why I live in rural NE WA State. There is a saying among real estate professionals. "It is very easy to buy raw, rural land, and nearly impossible to sell it." Anyone wanting to buy raw land needs to be extremely careful. I do not recommend it. There are simply too many government employees desperate to keep their jobs that will make life HELL for anyone wanting to put in a road, drill a well, bring in power and build. Most rural counties are in great financial stress and have come up with many new rules, regulations, and permits for anyone so bold as to want to develop raw land. Many rural land developments (where a farm or large tract of land has been subdivided) also have CC and R's (Codes, Convenient, and Restrictions) that give your neighbors power over what you do on your property. I hate CC and R's and will not sell any property so encumbered unless the buyer insists I do so. People think the CC and R's protect their property values. Not so! Who really wants their neighbors to be able to put a lien on their property because they have a clothes line and have wash hanging out to dry, or because they fly an American flag? (Yes, it really has happened...) With CC and R's you get Homeowner's Associations, and believe me, there are lots of little Hitlers on their boards just waiting for an opportunity to make your life miserable. They pass ridiculous new rules, then have the power via the Homeowners Associations to make you comply. Courts have sided with the Homeowners Associations enough times to make bucking them nearly impossible. So having given my opinion on raw land, what do I recommend? First a disclaimer. If one has always lived in upscale urban apartments, homes and neighborhoods, what I am about to recommend will be very distasteful. Yet it is by far the biggest bang for the buck, and the easiest way to get started. Twenty to thirty plus years ago many rural areas were without growth management legislation and many farmers sold off small acreages to relatives or friends who preceded to bring in mobile homes and plunk them on the properties. Counties did not require hundreds of permits, so driveways were created, septic systems put in, power brought to the homes, etc. Then over the following years barns were built, out buildings erected, fencing put in place, orchards and gardens planted, and the property made into very civilized habitations. Many of the expenses one would encounter with raw land were taken care of, as well as the labor. And believe me, fencing is very expensive and labor intensive, as well as fruit trees, sidewalks, etc. Here's the rub. The mobile homes are older, many not HUD compliant, not well insulated, and not attractive to urban dwellers and young couples. Banks won't lend on them, although a few Credit Unions might. So these older jewels are available at much reduced prices, often with owner financing. Then if the home is simply not going to work, it can be sold and another nicer manufactured home or stick built home built to replace the existing dwelling. Also many counties will allow a guest house or Mother-in-law unit. The older mobile can be kept in place for future family/friends who need to escape the city. The way to pick one of these jewels is to pay careful attention to the condition of the landscaping and interior of the home itself. There are lots of retired men who live in these homes who are quite industrious. Over the years they have kept improving the property and their homes. Pay careful attention to the landscaping. We have friends who bought a single wide in terrible condition, but it had outbuildings, etc. that were in great condition. They had the volunteer fire department practice fire fighting by burning it down, and placed a new manufactured home on the property. In my opinion, older mobiles are really the way to begin. I did not follow my own advice. I could not due to family circumstances. We spent much too much money on our 20 acre farm, and now do not have the means to do the rest of the prep work. So this has come from my heart. Smaller acreages (you don't need more than five) are really all you need, so that money is left over for alternative power to the well, money for greenhouses, food storage, etc. I will write more about soil, water, the need for level land for garden and orchard, etc. later. Just know that this is 30+ years of real estate knowledge synthesized down into a few paragraphs. I am happy to help in any way. I really believe that moving to the country could mean the difference between life and death for your family in the future.
Edited by: Katie Rose on Nov 8, 2014 - 5:06am