- 1 Top 10 Things to Look When Buying a Homestead
When starting the process of buying a homestead, there is a lot to look for and it can become very overwhelming. I know, first hand – trust me! At first, it is super exciting, you start finding all these properties, but after a while, you almost want to stop looking because there are too many to choose from. Well, I’m here to help! We’ve bought a few properties, so I know what to look for when buying a homestead and will help you to create a checklist so you know which ones are worth investigating.
But before we begin, the most important question, in my opinion, when buying a homestead is:
What do you want to do with it? This will make buying a homestead easier if you know what your homestead goals are.
For example, if you just want a large garden, some meat birds and laying hens, you’ll probably be OK with a few acres. Whereas, if you want pigs and cattle and want to raise all your own meat, and make your own firewood, then you will need something much larger.
With that being said, you may say you just want chickens and a garden, but down the road, you may change your mind and decide you want cattle… so my number one tip throughout reading all this is to always get a little more land than you think you’ll need – trust me. In a perfect world, and if you can afford it, I would recommend at least 50 acres. Once you live on 10 acres for a while it doesn’t seem as big as it once did, especially when you decide you want to get cattle.
OK, let’s get into it!
Top 10 Things to Look When Buying a Homestead
1. Proximity to the Road
This might be a personal opinion but when buying a homestead, I’ve never liked it when it practically sits on the road. My worry is if the house is too close to the road (especially if it’s a main road) is that children, dogs, livestock have an easier time getting to that road unsupervised, and something bad happening. I also like to look for a quiet, dead-end road. I know that’s not important for some people, but the quieter the road the better for me! No traffic, no noise, and you don’t have to worry about suspicious cars driving by, because chances are on a dead-end road you’ll know every car driving by.
2. Proximity to Town
This is dependant on whether or not you like being in the middle of nowhere, if you commute to work, if you send your kids to school, etc. I like to keep in mind, those smilingly small towns now, will grow to larger ones in 10-20 years, so something to keep in mind. In our perfect world, we like to be within 10 mins. to a small town for quick things, pharmacy, gas, schools, etc., 20 mins to a larger town for groceries, household items, farming supplies, and about 90 mins to a city (and this is not a deal-breaker) for fun stuff like a Winners or Ikea, ya know girl stuff….
Also keep in mind proximity to hospitals and EMT and fire services, as this should be an important consideration for those who do not want to live in the middle of nowhere.
3. Type of Land
Again this greatly depends on what your homesteading goals are (and remember they can changes, so buy more land with more pasture and more forest). Personally, a good rule of thumb is to have some forest and some pasture. The forest mainly for lumber, especially if you are heating your house with wood. The pasture for the grazing animals.
4. All About Water
This is more important than you think! Buying a homestead with water on it will be amazing! Not only can you get your drinking water from it, but you can also potentially use it for water for your livestock, swimming, pump water from it in emergencies (fires), use it to water a garden, and have an unlimited supply of water in case supply chains dwindle. A pond, store, river, lake, etc. are all good options. You should also be aware of the well and septic situation on the property. Is everything in good working order? Will you have enough water with the current well? When was the last time the septic was emptied?
Another thing to consider is if it has water rights. Water rights essentially allow you to have irrigation to water crops. This is more for large scale grain farmers, but still a good thing to know about the property, in case, you know, you change your mind and want to start growing organic grain.
5. Existing Infrastructure
Let’s face it, buying a homestead with existing infrastructure is always a plus! It saves you money and time for adding these things later. For us, having an existing barn is a deal-breaker. We need the barn immediacy, so for us to build one would just be an inconvenience. Run in shelters, outbuildings, barns, corrals, paddocks, and perimeter fencing should be on your list!
6. Growing Seasons and Weather
If you are looking at buying a homestead where you currently live, then you probably already know what the winters are like, how hot your summers get and your general growing zone. But if you are buying a homestead out of state or province, it’s a good idea to do some research and find out about snowfall, winter and summer temps, rainfall, wind, hardiness zone, etc. just so you are prepared and decide whether or not you like it.
7. Zoning, Covenants, HOA’s, Leins
Not the most fun topic, but super important when you are about to drop a bunch of money buying a homestead. Check the zoning, is it rural residential? Can you have chickens? Can you have livestock? Check to see if there is a Home Owners Association that will prevent you from putting a vegetable garden out front, for example. Are there any liens or covenants that will complicate things? Buyer beware, is a great saying, so do your due diligence.
8. Affordability and Potential Renos
Of course, no one wants to talk money when buying a homestead, but living outside of your means and extending yourself too far can be trouble. Make sure you can afford it with the income you are making now and make sure that the house is livable if you don’t have the money to do the renos straight away.
Although this isn’t a make or break, getting a soil analysis is a good idea! Through rotational grazing, most soil can be regenerated, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not sitting on any contaminated soils.
10. Be Your Own Realtor to Save Money
This one might be controversial, but we saved a lot of money going with Property Guys and not hiring a traditional realtor when we sold our last homestead. Do your research and don’t be afraid to it without a realtor.
And there you have it! My favourite tips on what to look for when buying a homestead. I’d love to know where you’re at in the process or if you have any questions in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and talk soon!