When we initially purchased our property, I had NO idea that it would turn into the crazy homesteading adventure that it has…
Heck, back then I didn’t even know what the “homesteading movement” was– all I wanted was some pasture for my horses… And a compost pile.
Even so, God knew exactly what we would need, as our “horse property” has made the transition to a homestead quite smoothly.
I get a ton of emails and comments from readers who are just starting out on their journey towards self-sufficiency. Those types of emails make me sooo happy and I just want to stand up and cheer for you guys. So if you are in the market to make a move soon, I’m sharing 12 things you should seriously consider before purchasing any property for your future homesteading goals.
However–keep in mind that you don’t HAVE to purchase acres and acres to join the modern-day homesteading movement. If you are itching to become more self-sufficient in your current location, then my eBook will get you pointed in the right direction!
12 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Homestead
1. Does it have potential?
Sometimes in order to purchase a homestead without breaking the bank, you have to look past what’s right in front of you to find the potential. Our property was a disaster when we purchased it– falling down fence, a washing machine in the back pasture, and waist-deep trash piles in the barn and shop. BUT- we knew it just needed some sweat-equity to bring it to life.
2. Is it BIG enough for all my future goals?
It doesn’t have to be thousands of acres, but even if you have the slightest inkling you might want a milk cow someday, make sure you have enough pasture space. Don’t underestimate how addictive this lifestyle can be *wink*.
3. Is the current layout conducive to my plans?
Is there room for a chicken coop or barn if you need to build one? Is there a sunny spot for a garden, or is the entire yard shaded by trees?
4. What are the winters like?
We had experienced plenty of brutal Wyoming winters before we purchased our property. However, we didn’t expect our front door to drift completely shut the first year…
5. What is the growing season like, and how long is it?
If you are shooting for maximum food production, a cold climate with a short season will make that tough. (Ask me how I know… Gardening is a struggle where we live (fruit trees hate me…) but it can be done (especially if you mulch!)– it just takes a bit more determination.)
6. What is the water situation? Is the well adequate?
Is the property on a septic system? How old is the leach-field? How many gallons per minute is the well? Are there any options for pumping/storing water off-grid? (Rain barrels, cisterns, hand pumps, etc- these aren’t deal-breakers by any means, but it would be a bonus to find a property with these features already in place.)
7. What are the neighbors like?
If you live in a very rural area, ‘neighboring’ can be vital to your success and survival. We are blessed to be surrounded by numerous ranchers who have helped us out more times that we can count– and we return the favor whenever we can.
8. Is it in my price-range? How much will any improvements cost?
As you know, hubby and I are huge fans of being debt-free. Even though we did take out a mortgage to purchase our place, our property payments aren’t extravagant, and we are shooting to pay off the mortgage very early. Even if you are looking at your dream property, I encourage you not to over-buy and put yourself in a bad place financially.
9. What are the outbuildings like? Can I start using them right away?
Outbuildings were a must-have on our list when we were looking at properties. With our harsh winters, we couldn’t afford to wait for years to save up the money to build from scratch. There is nothing wrong with older buildings/sheds/barns, just make sure they are safe and structurally sound. Personally, having ready-to-use buildings on a property was my primary concern when we were looking for property. We’ve had to do a TON of work to our outbuildings, but it was a lifesaver to at least have *something* there when we moved in.
10. How far is it to town?
Will you or your spouse still be working in town? If so, factor in time and gas money– it adds up fast! We are 40ish miles from my hubby’s place of work. He enjoys the drive, but it would make some people insane. 😉 If you are moving far from town, remember that movie nights and pizza runs will become fewer and far between- so expect a lifestyle change. For us? That’s a serious bonus– but I know not everyone feels that way…
11. Are there any zoning restrictions? Covenants? HOAs?
We were very particular about purchasing a property without any covenants or Homeowner’s Association rules. These seem to be the #1 headache for many homesteaders– and even though the rules might seem OK at first– make sure there is room for any of your future goals or plans. Some HOAs don’t allow clotheslines, chickens, or certain types or numbers of animals. This can be a serious roadblock on the road towards your homestead dreams. Make sure you know exactly what the HOA will allow before you buy.
12. What other possible hazards should I be aware of? Snakes, wildlife, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, drought, hurricanes, etc…
We deal with blizzards, rattlesnakes, drought-conditions, and tornado warnings on a regular basis on our homestead (and sometimes multiple things at the same time…). Honestly, we like a little bit of adrenaline now and then, so it doesn’t bother us too much. Find out what “adventures” your area might bring, and be prepared– both mentally and physically.
What tips can you add to the list for future-homestead-buyers?