The home buying experience is unique to every market, but the biggest differences are found between urban and rural markets. Pickings will be slimmer based on the vast expanses of farm fields and dairy land. Plus, these properties are not as closely governed as those within city limits.
Living in the country can be incredibly relaxing, especially if you like your privacy. However, you’re likely to run into a few things that might be surprising. Here are some things to consider:
- Consider the Atmosphere
Christine McKeon, a realtor that focuses on rural properties, told the New York Times that familiarizing yourself with the town will prepare you for such a purchase. “When you’re buying a house, you’re also buying into the town that it’s in,” she said. “And each town is unique… Get to know the town’s vibe.”
You’ll want to consider the size of the town, the amenities available, the distance to neighbors, and other things that will understandably be different from the city.
“If you’re thinking of buying a property next to a farm, think about smells,” recommends McKeon. “Horse farms smell different than cow farms, and you may find you don’t like either.”
- Consider Township Regulations
The regions on the outskirts of the cities are often referred to as townships. They have their own regulations and ordinances that must be obeyed, just like a city. Some townships are relaxed while others are very strict about things like burning leaves, carrying weapons, registering pets, and other little things.
If your township has a website, familiarize yourself with the rules. If not, speak with local law enforcement about the regulations to follow.
- Don’t Take Advice from the Locals
If you’re looking for a great place to eat or advice on dealing with flies, the locals might offer some great advice. However, don’t ask them about buying a house in the country, especially if you’re used to urban living.
Most locals have lived in the area for a long time. They’ve become accustomed to things that might be a deal breaker for you, like miles to the nearest grocery store. Do research on your own, and be prepared for what you find out.
- You Might Have to Install Your Own Well and Septic Systems
Homes in the country usually don’t have city-managed septic systems, so homeowners must install their own. The house you’re purchasing might not have these systems in good repair.
“Wells and septic systems are two significant items you’re going to deal with in the country,” says James Grossma, a Rochester real estate lawyer. “It is critical for a potential buyer to have a home’s well water tested both for quality and quantity. You want to make sure it’s clean, free from bacteria and odor, and that you’re not going to be left high and dry after doing a few loads of laundry.”
- Ensure Safe Water
Many rural homesteads get their water from private wells. These water sources use natural filtering systems, usually creating clean, safe water for consumption. However, there’s rarely testing to make sure the water is safe to drink. Many homesteaders who drink water from a private well are unknowingly exposed to natural contaminants and poisons.
“The EPA does not regulate private drinking water wells,” says the EPA official website. “Many states and towns do not require sampling of private wells after installation. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain the safety of their water.”
Safe water is your responsibility when you draw from a private well – so plan accordingly. You can arrange to have your water tested and cleaned regularly, if that’s something you’re up for.
- Weather Concerns
Buildings, city landscaping, and clusters of homes block much of the wind that country homes get in full blast. Wind can knock down trees, take out power lines, and damage your property. Rural homeowners often plant trees or build windbreakers to reduce the effects of the wind.
If you live in an area that snows, that can be a major concern. Many townships don’t offer plowing services on the roads, or they’ll plow infrequently. Either way, that’s something to factor into your home purchase.
- Difficulty of Property Maintenance
When buying a rural home, you’re also buying the acreage that goes with it. It’s not uncommon for country homes to be built on two acres or more, which means you’ll have a lot of work on your hands.
A lot of rural homeowners with expansive acreage will rent out a portion of their land to limit their maintenance. Consider whether or not you’re prepared for this responsibility.
- Taxes and Extra Expenses
Information regarding taxes and land fees in urban living is usually clearly outlined by the county. You can access several years of records to anticipate the kinds of fees and taxes you’ll owe on your house. The records aren’t always as clear for rural areas.
Ask the listing agent about yearly taxes, property valuations, zoning classifications, and more. Inquire about ownership of the road your property is on. Many country roads are privately owned, which requires more fees and taxes on your end.
- Potential Homeowner’s Insurance Increase
Depending on your insurance provider and your property, your insurance premium could rise significantly. A wood stove, the distance from a fire hydrant, the age of your house, old buildings on your property, and other features can increase your risk for property damages. Get a quote on the home before you purchase it, and make sure you can afford the premium.
- Technology Struggles
Cell towers are much farther apart in the country, which limits your cell service. You might have to switch providers or purchase a cell signal booster just to operate your phone when at home.
The pickings for internet and cable providers could also be slim. When you live in a remote place, you often have little choice in your providers.
- Unclear Property Lines
Property lines aren’t always as cut and dry in rural parts of the country. You might run into an unusual way of measuring things.
“In the city or the suburbs, the description of the property is usually in accordance with a survey,” Wiliam Selsberg explained to the New York Times. “But in the country, your property boundaries could be defined by an old stone wall, a brook on one side, some woods on the other, and the old road leading to Albany.”
Property disputes aren’t extremely common, but they may still occur. When this happens, a good real estate lawyer can help you sort out the confusion.
- Good, Old-Fashioned Rural Living
There are a lot of things you’ll have to get used to with rural living. The smells, the distance from amenities, natural predators, neighboring livestock, water sources, health risks, and more. Be prepared for some lifestyle changes.
There are also a lot of wonderful things about living in the county. The air is cleaner, you can say goodbye to traffic, you can see the stars, and your life will be very peaceful. Being prepared for the disadvantages can help you enjoy the many advantages.
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