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Old 08-06-2009, 03:38 PM
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 6,267,625 times
Reputation: 452


Yesterday I was shown this wonderful, well-priced rural property, just a 2 or 3miles, if that, from downtown. Nice little house. 4.8 acres on a dirt road. Two ponds, wooded land, a flat plateau, two nearby brooks. A little hilly by the driveway, which concerned me. I went with my buyers' agent and a friend. I loved the property. But both my realtor and my friend were dead set against my purchasing it. They felt there would be too much work and expense involved in maintaining the property, with nothing invested towards income production. I could build rental property on the land, but the costs would be prohibitive. The town grants $4000 towards building apartments in your house, but external buildings are not included. There's a barn that is falling down, but renovating it for rental properties would be extremely expensive. It would be many years before I recouped the investment.

But I found out that I could sell some of the land if I didn't want it. And someone told me last week that land is a good investment in my area, because it may become very valuable in the future.

Today I was shown (for the third time) a duplex in town. About .23 acres of land. A sidewalk in front. A versatile property. A main house with two storeys and an attached one-storey apartment. I could live in either unit and rent out the other. I could use the smaller unit as a home professional office. Maybe, if the zoning authorities allow it, I could even rent space to other professionals. I could even live elsewhere and use the house as an income-producing property. Even if I left town, temporarily or permanently, I could make money on the house.

The in-town property is in a neighborhood. The rural property is a lot more isolated, although there are other people nearby, somewhere. A school with international students is around the corner. But that's an institution, with a transient population. It is not a neighborhood. And the students there, I am told, prefer to rent in town, where they are near to everything. But I have also been told that people in the area often rent to students.

After about a year of looking at properties, I realistically think the duplex is the best buy for me right now.

But it hurts a bit that that beautiful property would be too much for me. I have always dreamed of a rural property. But reality often gets in the way of childhood dreams. Opportunities can slip away, but, at least in this case, practical realities of caring for a property trump the property's dream value. I can physically buy the property, but I think I would regret it. I'd dislike the isolation and the maintenance headaches. I'd fear fisher cats and bears and worry about my cats' safety. My inner New Yorker would fear home invasions. I'd be afraid of rolling off my driveway at night and rolling down the steep hill next to it. I've been warned that the area is pitch black at night. I've driven near the school and it would have been pitch black if not for my headlights.

But some locals I know say they feel safer living in the country. They fear angry people a lot more than dangerous wildlife. One person and her husband own 20 acres, which they walk on every day. A few months ago, though, they had a bear in their yard.

I just thought it would be so cool to tell my friends in New York that I live on 4.8 acres off a dirt road in Vermont.

I'm sure that lots of people on this forum live on rural properties, even isolated rural properties. How onerous are the chores? The rural property I just wrote about has well water and municipal sewer. Yes, municipal sewer! No septic!

The in-town duplex may be more practical right now, but there's a part of me that feels so disappointed.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:09 PM
6,764 posts, read 21,269,738 times
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If I had the money, it would be cool to have a nice holding on maybe 2 acres with a pond and little house (for weekends or for rental week by week and use when I wanted to be 'more rural) and have an apartment or duplex in a town for winter/during the week.

Yes, the illusion of living on a little dirt road is nice but remember you have to get to work, you are a single person alone and maybe if your phone goes out and you are injured, you would be in trouble. Now if you had a roommate or someone who looked in on you every few days (a buddy) then maybe the rural option would be best.

Good luck in whatever you do...
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:45 PM
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,792 posts, read 4,454,920 times
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It's hard to say without knowing what condition the land or house is in. We just had our farmhouse in central Vermont go through a major remodel on the second floor. There was some structural work done and the price for the internal work and some siding was over 100,000. It's not just cosmetic work that may need to be done. You may have to do code upgrades. That's where the bill can get expensive. As we found out, the older the home the more code violations you most likely will have. The other thing to think of is if you were to make a rental unit in the existing structure, the whole structure may have to meet code requirements. $4000 sounds like a significant amount, but an electrical service change and up grades alone will eat almost all of that money up. If you love the place that much and you don't think your freind and agent may be correct get a good inspector. It will be worth the money in the long run.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:45 PM
Location: Way up north :-)
3,039 posts, read 5,685,379 times
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It's a shame you cant live in both places part time. We have a very isolated 90 acre property in northern NSW..you need to get through 5 public gates and very badly maintained dirt road to get to it. We still currently live in the city during the week (little thing about needing an income) and drive up on weekends (it's a 6 hour drive). I never imagined I'd prefer the country to the city, but I just love the isolation..mind you, it's only part time. We'll see how it plays out.

But I think if the rural property is a bit beyond your reach right now, it's not meant to be. There may be other opportunities down the track, never say never. And yes, good luck!
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:53 PM
Location: on a dirt road in Waitsfield,Vermont
2,186 posts, read 6,496,096 times
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I too think an in-town place would be better suited for your situation. Maybe a small place in a nice neighborhood in town would be perfect.

Heard a fisher cat screeching the other night pretty close to the house and tonight as I was cooling off on the porch I got a visit from a way too friendly skunk.
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Old 08-07-2009, 12:18 AM
Location: Way up north :-)
3,039 posts, read 5,685,379 times
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Ok, now I'll have to google 'fisher cat'. We have wild dogs and over-curious cows (who often fall victim to said dogs), but that's about it. Aside from the snakes etc, but they're hibernating right now.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:58 AM
Location: Vermont
1,475 posts, read 3,975,924 times
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If I was a single person I think I'd rather live in town.

There's a lot of responsibility in rural life. There's No city water and no city sewers. If something goes wrong in either of those areas it can be a very expensive fix. Is the dirt road a private road? If so, you'll be paying to get it plowed and maintained - hopefully all your neighbors will pay their share. Is the driveway long? You'll need to get that plowed. I pay anywhere from $500 to $900 a year for my driveway and about $500 for private road plowing and maintenance.

Just how isolated is it? Can a neighbor keep an eye on the house? To be honest a break in is a concern of mine, but my then property is COMPLETELY surrounded by thick trees. Oddly enough I was never concerned about a break0in in Chicago since I was close to neighbors, but here in Vermont I an more concerned.

You'll see less people and most likely get less exercise because you'll use your car more often.

We have a good neighbor situation, everyone is friendly and watches out for each other. That's really important.

Bottom line - you're on your own a lot more.
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:54 AM
Location: Western views of Mansfield/Camels Hump!
2,051 posts, read 3,726,500 times
Reputation: 1251
Our goal is to move to a home with a lot of acreage. We're hoping for chickens, maybe some cows or pigs, and lots of space for gardening and just spreading out. But I'm not alone. If I was alone, I would definitely choose in town. And there have been plenty of times where I've seen smaller homes or condos in town where I thought we could live now, the two of us, because of the benefits - being able to walk to town, not having to worry about maintenance or snow plowing or any of that stuff.

It would seem like the in-town property gives you many of the things you were looking for, especially having an income producing apartment which is so great in these economic times. In the end, if you did buy this property, you could always rent out both apartments and then rent a rural home for a year to test it out and see how you like it. This way, you could always move back to town if you wanted with no major loss.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:15 AM
Location: Vermont
1,475 posts, read 3,975,924 times
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I should also add that Vermont has a lot of weird laws about what you can do with your land and what you can't. It's not always as easy as deciding you want to split your land and sell it. You may want to sell it to someone who wants to build a home only to have the town tell you it doesn't want another house there. During this recession, you'd probably have a decent shot of
selling your home to someone who wants to build. A few years ago though, towns were limiting housing permits and there were more applicants than permits.

There are situations where the state can actually take your land (although
they'll pay you something) for roadway or utility issues like cell phone antennas etc. You really need to have an attorney who is up on Vermont land laws.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:40 AM
Location: Vermont
3,441 posts, read 9,707,692 times
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I agree with everyone else....in town is best for your situation IMO. Rural properties are a lot of work. Mowing (we have 5 acres...we mow 3 as lawn and hay the other 2-it takes lots of time). Plowing in winter. Maintenance etc. You may also feel isolated as others have mentioned. You'll be in your car all the time.
If I were single I'd definately opt for an intown home or condo.
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