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Looking for a quiet place in the country
Old 11-08-2012, 09:03 AM   #1
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Looking for a quiet place in the country

I have been actively reading this site for over a decade and always appreciate the opinions of everyone involved here. In way of background, I was born and raised on a farm in western PA and have lived in AL (Auburn Grad), FL (Naval aviator), NC (USMC), CA (FAA), and VA (civil engineer).

Newly retired (again) and want to move from Northern VA, but I haven’t really narrowed the field of prospective locations very much. My GF and I have been entertaining the idea of purchasing a piece of property and constructing my own house, specifically, a First Day Cottage (FirstDay Cottage House Kits - Elegant Homes You Build Yourself), which I have researched for the past several years. This ambition is one that is now consuming much of my time as I prepare to sell my townhouse in northern VA. I am assuming that I will have ample funds to see me through on this project, and also assume that it could take up to a year and a half to complete. I could, of course, simply buy a home and settle in a new location, much as I have in the past.

The western part of VA, TN, PA, even NH seem attractive from a CoL perspective, as well as seasonal change and the prospect of lower taxes.

But, I would like to have as many opinions and suggestions about where I should begin my search, as well as ideas on what factors should be considered.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:31 AM   #2
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Having just bought a house, I highly recommend the online MLS as a search tool. I don't think you can search a multi-state area, but it is possible to save your search parameters for repeated use. I used the MLS as a preliminary filter to find properties that might be suitable. Then I checked them out further on google street view (although that might not be much use for a country property) and the public records (e.g. county assessor and/or GIS site). If they still looked good, I'd drive by and "case the joint", and if interested after that I'd call the agent to have a look at the property. I think it saved me a huge amount of time and energy compared to trying to describe accurately to an agent what I was really looking for, then viewing houses the agent thought I'd be interested in.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:43 AM   #3
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Chester, I enjoyed looking over the FirstDay cottage website, and I like the look of their plans. I'm looking at building something similar as a caretaker's cottage, but will probably do the Katrina Cottage 544 or something similar.
I also really want a one-level rather than two, and it looks like the FirstDay ones are more designed for two floor living plus a basement, which isn't a possibility here.

I think you are probably going to want to settle on an fairly large area, and then distill your search from that point.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC
Chester, I enjoyed looking over the FirstDay cottage website, and I like the look of their plans. I'm looking at building something similar as a caretaker's cottage, but will probably do the Katrina Cottage 544 or something similar.
I also really want a one-level rather than two, and it looks like the FirstDay ones are more designed for two floor living plus a basement, which isn't a possibility here.

I think you are probably going to want to settle on an fairly large area, and then distill your search from that point.
Your link goes to Lowe's.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:34 AM   #5
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My concern with these cottages would be lack of storage space. We downsized to ~2,000 sf and it seems cramped to some degree. I would think a 16' wide home would feel a bit cramped and claustrophobic. As a caretaker home or seasonal home, ok, but not a permanent home for me.

OP may want to check out Find Your Spot to narrow his search for locale.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:43 AM   #6
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Your link goes to Lowe's.
It goes to the floor plan for the Katrina Cottage, which used to be sold at Lowes. I was just illustrating the plan we want to use.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:56 PM   #7
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Before we decided to retire, and thinking "frugal" back in '86 and '87, the grand scheme was to buy "rural"... Every weekend, and almost every night, we would pore through real estate magazines, or drive to rural areas.
At the time, we almost settled in the Adirondaks... with an aim to build our own log cabin. Still have the mother earth magazines and some books on building.

We were this close >< to buying a 30x60 natural log hunting lodge with 12 acres of trees, a roaring brook, and built on the sunny side of a small mountain. Completely open inside, with a large stone fireplace, and a view of Lake Placid...
$45,000... but it was winter, and the R.E. dealer had to shovel the way to the door. DW decided that winter in the woods was less attractive than year round in Florida.

Small but important point... "rural"... the real world never looks as good as when you have to drive miles for services.

Am sure you've looked, but there a a number of online national farm R.E. dealers. They have a wonderful way of romanticizing hard work.

Just poking around, here's a similar north country place:
http://www.landandfarm.com/property/...Forest-425542/

Best of Luck
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:19 AM   #8
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Wish you had been looking 8 months ago - finally sold my log and frame house on 6 acres on the banks of the Shenanadoah River in June. After four years on the market, took what I could get (which was 2/3 what is was appraised for in 2008).

The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful, close (but not too close) to Washington D.C. and truely a buyers market for the first time in 50 years. Woodstock, Front Royal, and Strasburg, Va. are nice little towns and might be a good place to start looking in area.

One thig to keep in mind - some towns can be a little cool towards "outsiders". We found Woodstock, Front Royal and Strasburg to be very welcoming.

You can search the MLS listings around the zip code of 22657 in the realtor.com website.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:08 PM   #9
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My concern with these cottages would be lack of storage space. We downsized to ~2,000 sf and it seems cramped to some degree. I would think a 16' wide home would feel a bit cramped and claustrophobic. As a caretaker home or seasonal home, ok, but not a permanent home for me.

OP may want to check out Find Your Spot to narrow his search for locale.
That would be too claustrophobic for me as well, but if you removed the interior walls it would make for a nice woodworking shop out back.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Chester_A._Riley View Post
I would like to have as many opinions and suggestions about where I should begin my search, as well as ideas on what factors should be considered.
We're going through a similar process ourselves, and it isn't easy.
One starting place for things to consider is articles like questions to ask before relocating retirement - Google Search.

Despite criticisms of articles about the best places to retire - Google Search, we're reviewing as many as we can find (as well as Worst Places... for contradictions), and comparing/tabulating them on a spreadsheet. Many/most of the articles mention the criteria they use, as well as telling you a little about the locations they've selected/determined.

I'll leave scoring/weighting to you.

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Old 11-22-2012, 08:57 AM   #11
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I wanted to move to the country, but then came the grandkids. So I am still in the same place as when I was working.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:05 AM   #12
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A friend's father-in-law lived in a quiet place in the country. Specifically at the end of a private dirt road in a single-wide. His wife lived in a nursing home.

She hadn't heard from him for a few days and he wouldn't answer the phone, so she called my friend. When they got out there a couple hours later, they found the newspapers hadn't been picked up for a few days. The doors were locked so they yelled inside. No answer. They got inside and found what he had been eating the week before on the kitchen table: Canned vienna sausages and potato chips.

Then FIL yelled from the back where he had fallen. He had been there a few days. They called an ambulance which took an hour to get there and missed the private road at first which added some extra minutes.

He died in the hospital a few days later.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:10 AM   #13
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A friend's father-in-law lived in a quiet place in the country. Specifically at the end of a private dirt road in a single-wide. His wife lived in a nursing home.

She hadn't heard from him for a few days and he wouldn't answer the phone, so she called my friend. When they got out there a couple hours later, they found the newspapers hadn't been picked up for a few days. The doors were locked so they yelled inside. No answer. They got inside and found what he had been eating the week before on the kitchen table: Canned vienna sausages and potato chips.

Then FIL yelled from the back where he had fallen. He had been there a few days. They called an ambulance which took an hour to get there and missed the private road at first which added some extra minutes.

He died in the hospital a few days later.
This can happen in the city too. My uncle was found dead in his apartment. From looking at the bills he was probably dead about a month before he was found. He was laying in the floor, apparently unable to get up.

No wife or kids. Lived on the other side of the country from his family. Had little contact with us.
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:25 PM   #14
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Canned vienna sausages and potato chips...
Uh oh...
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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This woman wasn't discovered for five years. Seems like this could happen to almost anyone who lives alone. When I move into my house down in Lacey my mom & I will both be living solo. She's thinking of getting one of those "call for help" necklaces, and I just might get one too.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:11 AM   #16
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This woman wasn't discovered for five years. Seems like this could happen to almost anyone who lives alone. When I move into my house down in Lacey my mom & I will both be living solo. She's thinking of getting one of those "call for help" necklaces, and I just might get one too.
That's sad no one noticed her missing. Looks like a pretty nice building she lived in too.

If i live long enough and able to stay by myself, I will get one of the medical alert devices too. Probably won't do much good if I drop dead of a heart attack. But it would be in case of a fall. Wish I had made my mother get one, she was on the floor a good 12 hours before I found her.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:37 AM   #17
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That's sad no one noticed her missing. Looks like a pretty nice building she lived in too.

If i live long enough and able to stay by myself, I will get one of the medical alert devices too. Probably won't do much good if I drop dead of a heart attack. But it would be in case of a fall. Wish I had made my mother get one, she was on the floor a good 12 hours before I found her.
My mom has only done very early looking into these alert devices, but one thing she has found out already is that some of them only work in your home, and some of them work anywhere, or at least they work in a larger area than just your house. If I do get one, it will be a "works anywhere" version.
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