Buying your first homestead is an exciting time in your life. The excitement can sometimes mean not being thorough and acting upon impulse just to have a place of your own.
It is important to take your time and make sure that you get the place you desire, that you will live at for years to come. When deciding to purchase your first homestead, here is a checklist of things to consider.
Things to Consider when Moving Into Your First Homestead:
1. What Your Needs REALLY Are
My husband and I are currently on the quest to purchase our first homestead. We have been on this quest for over a year. The thing is, we know what we really need.
We need acreage. Enough so that he can have a large shop, plus the girls and I want a “she shed” that will double as a cabin when our relatives come to stay. Not to mention next to our “she shed” will be a place for our animals and our garden.
We also desire an outdoor kitchen and a little bit more land to just have.
That being said, we have some things that are negotiable. Husband wants a lot of trees so out homestead will not be as visible; however, much of rural Texas still has dirt roads. This means we could be very remote on an acreage with no large trees yet still be remote enough no one will know we are there.
Knowing that we desire all of this means that the beautiful, large, not-yet-finished house on one acre is not going to work. It doesn't matter how pretty the house is, it is not feasible for our needs.
Another consideration that my husband and I have discussed, is the inability to go to the grocery store all the time. Where we live right now puts us nearby four Walmarts- all within ten miles of the house. How are we going to handle not being able to run to the store when we move away?
I will say, that is something I am actually looking forward to.
Likewise, it is important that you sit down and take inventory of absolute musts and things that are a bit more negotiable. If the house is not the one, don't worry- the one will come.
When talking about finances, you need to look at your home purchase in two different manners: incoming and outgoing.
Incoming is questioning what it will do to the finances you have coming in. Do you currently work in the city? If you are a farmer and attend the local farmer's markets, how far away is the nearest one?
Essentially, how far away is the home from your work or how do you bring money into the home? Think about the expense on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Outgoing is how much you plan to spend on the homestead we just talked about in step one.
Part of why we have not found the home we desire is because our money is not in alignment. We have saved enough to purchase a house outright; however, that house is probably not going to be the house we desire for our homestead. Another year and we will be better off.
If you plan to take out a loan, I recommend finding out from your mortgage broker how much you can get approved for and make sure that it is in your budget as well.
For many loans, there is a possibility that they will approve you for more than you need. If that is the case, I recommend sitting down and looking at your finances as well as looking at your list of needs and negotiables.
You might also consider a home that needs some fixing. For example, the yellow house I mentioned above went into foreclosure while the original owners were building it. The house costs $64,000 and needs about $40,000 to finish it out (there is no kitchen, no appliances in the bathrooms, etc). Once done, the house that cost $100,000 would easily be worth $300,000.
But that means having another chunk of cash available to throw towards the house.
And if you're interested in how much a tiny house costs, you have come to the right place!
I guess what I am trying to say here is don't get yourself into so much debt that you end up over your head. Be thoughtful about your finances on such an important decision!
3. Your Neighbors
Your neighbors don't have to be your best friends but you need to get to know them for a start. Living rurally, this becomes important and I can give you a great example.
A friend of mine lives on a 1,500-acre ranch. Obviously, this means his neighbors are several miles down the road. Yet they work together sometimes, on one rancher's “day off” they will help their neighbor and vice versa.
Today the friend was at the back of the acreage working on bailing hay. His neighbor called and said that someone in a red vehicle drove into their driveway and stole their dog. My friend told their neighbor to stay on the car. Neighbor followed, while my friend got in his car and drove over 100 mph, finally catching up to their neighbor.
Thankfully, the dog was rescued and the thief went to jail. But my friend wouldn't have known had he not been at least cordial to his neighbors!
Going back on the story a bit though- if you are moving from one city to another, please note that sometimes it takes a while to be trusted.
Many small areas have families who have lived in that area several generations and a newcomer is a bit scary to them. Just take a deep breath and put your best foot forward. They are sure to love you!
4. Zoning Restrictions or HOAs
The very first placed that we looked at was five wooded acres in a lake front community. We would have the five acres plus a piece of land right off the lake that was below flood range so we could not put a home on the site. It was amazing.
Although the real estate agent told us that having a beehive would not be a problem because we'd be so far into the acerage no one would notice, there were other concerns. For example, my husband would not be able to shoot his guns.
Why were there restrictions such as this? Because the new development was a part of a homeowners association, or HOA.
It's important to find these things out before purchasing a home because there are things that you will want to do on your property or to your property.
Even without an HOA, it's possible for there to be zoning restrictions that would prohibit you from being able to add more outbuildings or something of this sort.
Do your research and ask around before committing to your first homestead.
5. Roads and Phone Service
While for many, not having internet or cable is okay with them.
But what about phone service? Despite the fact that we live in the state with the most growth (four of the top ten fastest growing cities in the US belong to Texas), many rural roads between Dallas and Waco have no phone service.
We both make sure to look at our phones while we are house hunting.
Roads might seem like they should be a non-issue but consider if you only have one way in and out and a bad storm blows trees over. You are now stuck at home for what could be several days.
Many of us are prepared for this but it is still a very nerve racking issue, especially if there is no service at your home.
If you want to know more about what to look for in a homestead, here is an article on 16 Decisive Tips for Finding the Perfect Homestead Land and Property. Let me know how the search for your first homestead goes!