39 minutes | May 25th 2019

Critical Questions to Answer Before Buying Your Farm or Homestead: Farming Podcast

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When you search for rural land you’ll find all sorts of places that look promising. But how do you know if you’ve found your dream property? Today, I’ll share what we’ve learned and cover the 23 questions you should answer before buying that rural property. Listen to the Podcast Subscribe to Small Farm Nation on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or TuneIn So, Liz and I have bought rural property twice now. It’s both an exciting and exhausting time. Before you plunk down that deposit on the first rural property that screams your name, consider this: you are planning to make a move there for life. A new life, a better life and, perhaps, not only the rest of your life but a homestead that future generations will cherish.  So, yeah, it’s appropriate to take time and weigh the decision against criteria that are important to you and your family. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 23 important questions you should ask and answer when looking for rural property. But, really, these 23 questions are more like 23 categories. As you’ll hear, each question…or category…has many sub-questions, so it’s way more than 23 questions. So, having said that, let’s get going on our list of 23 questions to ask when looking for rural property. 1. How much land do you really need? This gets to the issue of land lust, as we all seem to want more land and more privacy. But the question you’ll need to answer is how much land do you actually need to achieve your goals or dream? I mean, if you simply want to have a garden and some chickens you can certainly homestead on less than an acre.  Many people do. But what if you want livestock, such as cows and horses?  How about orchards? Do you want to be able to hunt on your own land…do you want a lake or pond for recreation and fishing? The risk here is that you, like us, will say…yeah, I want all that, and more. But of course, all that comes at a cost, both financially and in terms of upkeep. So you have to be clear on your goals because keeping chickens and rabbits require very little land, sheep and goats require a little more and cows require, at a minimum, one or two acres of dedicated pasture each… and that is IF you are in good pasture/rainfall areas typical of the eastern United States. In much of the western parts of the U.S. more land is usually required, often much more. And if you are thinking about having horses, get far more rural property—10 acres per horse (in the east) in addition to your house, driveway, garden, etc. Okay, moving on. Question # 2. Can you COMFORTABLY afford the land? Only you know how much you can afford for the home and land. Can you purchase your rural property and be debt-free?  You’ve heard me talk about this before so you know I think this is a really important milestone to achieve. But, if you’re not there yet, can you comfortably afford the down payment with plenty of financial reserves left over to deal with the unexpected? And I mean plenty because there’s always a need for money out here. For instance, how much will any improvements to the land or buildings cost? Then there’s the cost for livestock, trees and garden beds and so on. So make sure your purchase leaves you with financial reserves. # 3. How is the water? Does the land have excellent water? (I encourage you to make this a very high priority.) Does the water come from a natural spring or has a well been drilled? If it is a spring, is it located above the elevation of the house and garden so you can use gravity for water distribution? If the water is from a well, how many gallons per minute does it produce AND what is the static water depth? For example, on our last farm, we had two wells, each 300 feet deep that produced over 45 gallons per minute, but the static water depth is less than 40 feet. On my current homestead, we only have one well that produces about 5 gallons per minute, but that’s plenty. Besides, we have lots of springs and small streams on this property,
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