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Country living..20 minutes from 'anything'..
Old 11-21-2017, 07:19 AM   #1
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Country living..20 minutes from 'anything'..

Hi, everyone..wondering if any of you live in the country far from the comforts and amenities of suburbia or city living.

After years (10+) of looking for a property to build our 'dream' retirement home, we found two adjacent lots that total just over 12 acres and 1,000+ ft of combined road frontage on a paved, dead-end and very private cul-de-sac in the country. (So, I can put our house just about in the middle of that and have no neighbors for 5-700+ feet either side..very nice).

There are only 9 "lots" and architectural controls on what can and can't be built. They're reasonable (eg: ranch of at least 2,400 sq ft, story and a half of 2,600 sq ft) to ensure that anything that does go in will be fairly nice.

Seems perfect on many levels, but it's 20 minutes from ANYTHING. And I do mean "anything". There is NOTHING nearby in terms of grocery, medical, parks, recreation, etc. There IS a rails-to-trails bike and walking path behind us, but that's pretty much it. Nearest grocery is 10+ min which is no big deal but it's a small mom and pop, not a Kroger. No restaurants. No doctors. Pretty much nothing except farmland and woods.

I always wanted to live in a more rural setting without the pesky irritations of sub life. (We have neighbors literally 20 feet from us today, and when the teenage boys are playing basketball and screaming their heads off feet from your house it can be a real PITA - I can hear them INSIDE my house with the windows closed up. Not fun). On the other hand, we live in our "dream" house already. The house is awesome and has everything we ever wanted..plus is close to all sorts of amenities (fitness & social facility for over 50 people, doctors, parks, restaurants, etc) but the lot is not good as it's 20 ft or so from each neighbor.

While we don't mind driving to get places, you really start thinking about..CAN I drive that far - especially at night - when I'm 70+? 80+? What happens if I live longer? Plus, this is in SE Michigan and we have weather. Winters can really suck in terms of road conditions, and I imagine the country does not get plowed or taken care of like the 'burbs do.

We have offers on both lots and only a couple of weeks to either close or bail.

Since we've looked for literally 10+ years, I have the "we're unlikely to ever find anything like this again" feeling going. Plus, my search area is somewhat limited as wife does not want to move super far away from family (like, to another state or even "up north"). So, to get privacy..I realize we need to move out a ways. The good news is these properties are literally ONE East-West road north of what had previously been the north range of my search area. So it's not like it's super far beyond where I've always been looking. But now that I've driven it a bunch of times I realize my search range may have been too far out to begin with..

Would appreciate any and all experiences from those of you who already do live in the boonies or were ever thinking of doing something similar..the other obvious downside is that the building process would probably be super painful and expensive (getting quotes of ~$200/sq ft - yikes) - but we also realize the odds of ever finding something that is what we would want in an existing house is near zero, also.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:34 AM   #2
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We did something similar 20 years ago, building a house on five acres 20 miles from any shopping other than a small convenience store. The trade-off for the distance we have to drive to shop vs. the peace, quiet and elbow room of being more than 100 yards from our nearest neighbor has been well worth it. And since "progress" never stops, we now live less than 12 miles from shopping, and that distance decreases every year...
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:47 AM   #3
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This is a great idea for someone in their thirties. Less so as you get older. If you are over 60 or even nearing 60, I would not do this. By the time you get the house built, likely you won't be able to enjoy the peace and quiet for long before you find yourself driving to the city with the doctors and the amenities you want and need.

I'm 63 and I am already past the point I enjoy driving at night, even to the nearest grocery store on a milk run. In my early 50's, I thought of buying a property with more land and having some animals. Would not do that now.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:49 AM   #4
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We're 20 minutes from anything - but that's because of traffic, not distance. Oftentimes walking is faster.

We're urban residents, although that matters more to DW than me. The one downside I see to the "more elbow-room" population is low density often leads to a less developed infrastructure. This affects things like availability of cable, internet, health care providers, supermarkets.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:54 AM   #5
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We did something similar 33 years ago and again 23 years ago about a quarter mile away from the first house. 5 acre wooded lots. Built a 2 car detached garage for my workshop. I spend most of the day in there or maintaining the 5 acres and 3800 sf house.

Living in the boonies is great. Quiet- I can only hear my flag and leaves blowing in the wind. Neighbors more than 300' away. Street is 800' from the house. I can't see another house from ours in the summer. great walking/running/biking routes. Small grocery store 10 minutes away. Walmart, Menards, hospital 20 minutes away.

The hurdles of boonie living:

Septic, well, and extra driveway expense
Snow plowing long driveway
Sometime roads are impassable due to snow
Sketchy cell phone coverage
We got lucky, but good Tv/internet may be hard to get
Have to clean leaves out of gutters a lot
Lots of animals eating plants/ flowers
Lots of bugs
Very few restaurants nearby
Tree maintenance - I'm alway sawing down trees or cleaning up branches
More grass to mow
Yard work is tougher on an older body
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:58 AM   #6
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This affects things like availability of cable, internet, health care providers, supermarkets.
+1

No real issues with the items listed other than internet. The lack of high speed internet access at a reasonable cost has been an ongoing frustration than continues to this day.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:02 AM   #7
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I lived in a town of 700 people where yards started at 2 acres with a major lake 1/2 mile away. The city was incorporated to fight high density housing in the medium size adjoining us. Farms surrounded us.

We were 5 minutes from Walmart, the malls and restaurants. Perfect.

What I liked was having motorcycles and ATVs and being able to ride through the creeks and hollows around the lake. It was a wilderness area.

We sold that house in 2 weeks for list price and moved into a city neighborhood with homes as large as 10,500 square feet. Everyone works all the time and no neighbors even know each other. Forget riding ATVs out the back door.

I like towns with good societies--not too large and not too small--20 to 30 miles outside a major city. And a lake or river is a big plus.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:03 AM   #8
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I'm all for country living, rural setting for so many reasons. If you like traffic and want to be around crowds and the busy life of the city you need to stay in the big town. I don't want all that and love my space. 20 minutes is nothing to drive on this day and age. As far as being close to medical and if that is a worry to you then find a place across the street from a large hospital so you can be close. I see this come up all the time is need to be close to medical hospital facilities and I see no need to be living right next door to one. Lol People have lived long and great lives living in rural America and if you need to go to Doc go to the city and see a Doc. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:04 AM   #9
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A lot of the decision comes to lifestyle. For example, I'm a big "pop out and go get" person. I rarely like to grocery shop for more than a day or two at once. I like having starbucks in walking distance if needed. We like going out to dinner once or twice a week and have a plethora of choices within 10 mins. I have 2 Home depots within 15 minutes, so a weekend project is never interrupted for long if I need something.

It's also easy for family to stop by (not just us to them, but them to us).

20 mins in good weather means 40 in bad. What would it be like at night in the snow?
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:11 AM   #10
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I live in a resort community, 30+ minutes from conveniences such as Kroger, Home Depot, Target, etc. It's not for everyone. Nearly everyone here is retired, or work at the resort. A few people seem to go down to the city almost daily, but I couldn't do that. I just plan my trips, and make good use of Amazon. When I'm in the grocery store I usually know when my next trip will be and I make sure I have enough fruit, veggies, bread, lunch meat, etc to make it to then. In winter I take storms into account.


There are some people in the 80s and even 90s up here. When health problems hit most tend to move. There is a rescue squad up here but time to a hospital can be a factor, plus when you need more non-emergency doctor visits it gets to be a drag. We've had some people continue driving the mountain roads that really shouldn't. I figure health or driving issues will be what makes me move, though I've already been here a few years, and at 56 I figure I have a lot more years. Couples tend to do better since as long as one is healthy and able to drive they can do alright.


You didn't say how old you are. How many years you can enjoy it, especially going through the build process, is a factor. A 20 minute drive doesn't seem too bad. If you get to where you are unable to drive 20 minutes safely, you probably shouldn't be driving at all, so you'll probably be making new living arrangements then anyway. The remoteness will probably be a factor for snow clearing though. Can you get an option on the property for 90 days, and see how well those roads are maintained this coming winter? Think about how you'll keep your own drive clear too. Maybe you can build close enough to the road to use a snow blower (still an issue with age), or put a blade on a truck or bobcat, or just hire it out. If you can't do the option and feel you can't let the land go, I'd at least do nothing else toward building until you see how winter looks, and hopefully be able to resell the land with no additional costs if it just won't work out.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:19 AM   #11
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We spent 30 + years in a development and also looked for about 10 years before finding just the right place out in the country. Older home for her, big garage/workshop and barn for me to tinker. We only have about 2 acres to maintain and garden, and are only about 5 minutes from a small mom and pop store and about 10 minutes to larger grocery stores, home improvement stores and a major hospital. Works for us for now but probably will move to a smaller home and lot in our 70s.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:19 AM   #12
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My brother lives right outside of Santa Rosa and BARELY survived the fires there, everything around him is scorched, very lucky his home stands. When not dealing with fires he worries about his “cute” creek breaching into his home come winter time, no thanks for me, I’m a city slicker
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:31 AM   #13
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Privacy is getting harder and harder to come by. I live on 10 acres surrounded by woods...nearest neighbor is around 150 yards...cant see their house...cant hear them, etc. I wouldnt trade that for anything.

I lived in an apartment in DC for 10 years...I could never go back.


Like others said...there is more maintenance with a house like mine. Trees do sometimes fall blocking the driveway. Gotta have a chainsaw. Long driveway...gotta have a snowblower attachment for the tractor. I have drainage that needs cleared frequently when the leaves come down...gotta have a leaf blower. The list goes on. I like the manual labor so it doesnt bother me...but others may not realize what they're getting into.
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20 minutes vs round-the-clock serenity
Old 11-21-2017, 08:43 AM   #14
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20 minutes vs round-the-clock serenity

My parents were lifelong urban/suburban people. They wore tailored clothes, enjoyed gourmet foods and the opera. The most rural activity they ever pursued was growing tomatoes in the back garden.

In 1992 they retired and moved from a quarter-acre amid the traffic and expense of the nation's capital to the mountains of Almost Heaven. You had to ford a stream to get to their house. Their driveway was a mile long into the woods, where they regularly observed bears in their front yard. Yes, bears.

They had to build a house and have some work done to get utilities and access to it, but the project was manageable.

Sure, it took 20 minutes to get to the tiny country store, another 10 to get to a small grocery store, and an hour and a half to an actual supermarket that carried genuine Roquefort cheese.

But they adapted and for a little more than 15 years insisted it was the perfect location for them. When age caught up with them eventually, they sold the mountain house and moved again, this time into the closest town. Nothing lasts forever. I have no doubt that in hindsight they would do exactly what they did all over again. They loved it.

Good luck!
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:04 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by RetireSoon View Post
Hi, everyone..wondering if any of you live in the country far from the comforts and amenities of suburbia or city living.

After years (10+) of looking for a property to build our 'dream' retirement home, we found two adjacent lots that total just over 12 acres and 1,000+ ft of combined road frontage on a paved, dead-end and very private cul-de-sac in the country. (So, I can put our house just about in the middle of that and have no neighbors for 5-700+ feet either side..very nice).

There are only 9 "lots" and architectural controls on what can and can't be built. They're reasonable (eg: ranch of at least 2,400 sq ft, story and a half of 2,600 sq ft) to ensure that anything that does go in will be fairly nice.

Seems perfect on many levels, but it's 20 minutes from ANYTHING. And I do mean "anything". There is NOTHING nearby in terms of grocery, medical, parks, recreation, etc. There IS a rails-to-trails bike and walking path behind us, but that's pretty much it. Nearest grocery is 10+ min which is no big deal but it's a small mom and pop, not a Kroger. No restaurants. No doctors. Pretty much nothing except farmland and woods.

I always wanted to live in a more rural setting without the pesky irritations of sub life. (We have neighbors literally 20 feet from us today, and when the teenage boys are playing basketball and screaming their heads off feet from your house it can be a real PITA - I can hear them INSIDE my house with the windows closed up. Not fun). On the other hand, we live in our "dream" house already. The house is awesome and has everything we ever wanted..plus is close to all sorts of amenities (fitness & social facility for over 50 people, doctors, parks, restaurants, etc) but the lot is not good as it's 20 ft or so from each neighbor.

While we don't mind driving to get places, you really start thinking about..CAN I drive that far - especially at night - when I'm 70+? 80+? What happens if I live longer? Plus, this is in SE Michigan and we have weather. Winters can really suck in terms of road conditions, and I imagine the country does not get plowed or taken care of like the 'burbs do.

We have offers on both lots and only a couple of weeks to either close or bail.

Since we've looked for literally 10+ years, I have the "we're unlikely to ever find anything like this again" feeling going. Plus, my search area is somewhat limited as wife does not want to move super far away from family (like, to another state or even "up north"). So, to get privacy..I realize we need to move out a ways. The good news is these properties are literally ONE East-West road north of what had previously been the north range of my search area. So it's not like it's super far beyond where I've always been looking. But now that I've driven it a bunch of times I realize my search range may have been too far out to begin with..

Would appreciate any and all experiences from those of you who already do live in the boonies or were ever thinking of doing something similar..the other obvious downside is that the building process would probably be super painful and expensive (getting quotes of ~$200/sq ft - yikes) - but we also realize the odds of ever finding something that is what we would want in an existing house is near zero, also.
How about taking another tack? Since you already live in your dream house, have you looked into creating sound barriers/absorbers: such as improving the windows -- triple-pane, high-end windows might solve your noise problem? Or added insulation? Or sound deadening-panels on outside walls? (If it's only the noisy kids playing ball that is an issue -- how old are they? They'll grow up and spend little/no time outside.)

BTW, I'm a summertime SE Michigander. No desire to see snow ever again.

omni
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:16 AM   #16
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We have some former neighbors ( and still good friends) that moved to a similar type of environment on a lake front house in middle GA. They were 40 minutes away from the nearest grocery (Walmart).

They've lived there for 10 years and are now selling the house. They're both now 70 plus years old and are becoming aware of the "40 minute ambulance ride" worry.

They have no regrets about their time on the lake, though.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:25 AM   #17
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I live on acreage about 20 minutes from town. I've been here 30 years, but as I get older it's harder to keep the place up. I realize eventually I'm going to have to sell it.
It's also in the hills and the weather can be an issue getting into to town in the winter.

Since it's a bit of a drive to town, I consolidate all my errands so I don't have to go in all the time. But there are times when I absolutely have to have something, and yes it's a pain driving into town to get it. Also, are you the kind of people who love to go to movies, to the theater, to the library, to socialize? If so, moving out of town might be a mistake.

It's really not a problem living here yet, and I absolutely love it. But when I'm in my 70's and older ( I'm 63 now) I can see the possibility of having to move.
Owning acreage can involve a lot of work. Have you considered what you are going to do with the land? Is it forest land, which involves less work, or pasture in
which case you will need to maintain animals on it or someone to field mow it for you? How about tax consequences, is farm or forest deferral available to you, which means
there will be income or land use restrictions put on you?

So I guess it depends on how old you are now, and how easy it will be to sell later. If you are still reasonably young, go for it. If not, consider how easy will you be able to sell it when the time comes to leave?
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:27 AM   #18
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We spend 10 years in rural MO on twenty acres. The town was 240 people, 20,000 cows. Twelve miles to groceries. I commuted 120 miles, round trip, to KC for work. No neighbors that you could see. Peace and quite ecept deer season.

After retiring we've moved to a remote resort area. We're in a development with neighbors, most are retired. No noise, there's no street lighting either. We see and hear nature.

Our house sits on a canyon next to a national forest and there's wildlife all around us. We have deer, bear, fox and mountain lion going though the back yard.

The other day our walk was changed due to a mountain lion sighting. A few miles North there's excellent fishing, hunting, hiking with millions of acres of public use land.

Not much here in terms of big city things. There's an ER, Wal-Mart, Kroger, McDonald's, dentist, and bank, all three miles from our home. Our development has a health club, full gym, indoor salt water pool. Miles of paved walking paths.

Driving at night is to be avoided if possible. I have no desire to hit elk, moose, or farm animals. Yeah our internet is DSL, satellite tv. Restaurants are all local other than McDonald's and taco bell.
Medical specialists can mean a drive. I had to drive 120 miles, round trip, for a root canal. DW needed to see a neurologist and that was a two hour drive each way. We're both 60, for now this is paradise.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:33 AM   #19
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We moved to the country about 25 years ago. It is great. Banking, getting gas, the Post Office, shopping, visiting friends, going to the diner, etc. are all done on the same trip.Quiet, and DARK at night. We have the kind of privacy and freedom that you can never have in suburbia or in a village. All that RONSTAR mentioned is true. Lots of work, lots of tree, yard and driveway work. Lots of animals around etc. We are getting older so, to help with the work, we bought a nice new Kubota tractor and attachments. Hey, you can't take it with you...
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:39 AM   #20
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How about taking another tack? Since you already live in your dream house, have you looked into creating sound barriers/absorbers: such as improving the windows -- triple-pane, high-end windows might solve your noise problem? Or added insulation? Or sound deadening-panels on outside walls? (If it's only the noisy kids playing ball that is an issue -- how old are they? They'll grow up and spend little/no time outside.)


omni
+1. There was another thread like this, in fact I thought it might be the same poster who started it. ARGH - basketball next doors
I'd think heavy, sound deadening curtains that you close when you hear the annoying noises would probably work well, and as a bonus they'd be good winter insulators too.
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