Finding Your New Farm Home

Tips for locating your perfect property in the country.

  • Knowing where to compromise will help you find your country property.
    Photo by Getty Images/Henglein and Steets
  • A structurally sound outbuilding will be an asset.
    Photo by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
  • Look for an old farm along with empty properties.
    Photo by Getty Images/BDphoto
  • With a few updates, the author's barn is fully functional.
    Photo by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
  • Many abandoned properties have structures on them waiting to be put to work.
    Photo by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
  • Some labor on your part will save significant money.
    Photo by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
  • For big renovation jobs, don't hesitate to get a professional opinion.
    Photo by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

When my partner and I began our search for property, we were looking for an escape from suburbia. We weren’t sure what we were looking for, but we knew our days of competitive lawn care and comparing corporate jobs were numbered. Over the next year and a half, there were some promising leads and a few romances with places that simply would not work. But when we found our home, we knew immediately that it was the place.

The property was anything but turnkey. The amount of work that would have to go into rejuvenating our new home was daunting, and we knew it would be years before the project was complete. But it was exactly what we had been looking for.

In our initial search, we looked mostly at either empty parcels of land, or places with fully functioning homes and outbuildings. Somewhere along the way, we changed our thinking: With so many old farm properties just sitting abandoned along every backroad we drove, some of them had to be for sale for a reasonable price. We knew we could turn them into our dream homestead with less work than building new, and for a significantly smaller cost than purchasing ready-to-go.

Make your checklist

When searching for a farm or homestead, the first step is to create a checklist of what you are looking for in a potential home. How much land do you actually need? How far from cities and towns would you like to be? Are you willing to put in a great deal of work on the house, barn, or outbuildings? Questions like this are equally as important as finalizing your budget or your inspiration for moving.

For most folks moving from city to the country, a few compromises will be necessary. In the case of our new farm, we knew what we wanted in terms of acreage, and because we had animals already, a barn was high on our priority list. In fact, a structurally sound barn is one of the most desirable features of a future homestead. The farmers I know who have moved to old farms list a good barn as a number one reason they bought the place they settled. Those who found land without a barn have invested significant time and effort into constructing outbuildings.

Outbuildings, acreage, and fencing are all limiting factors, so it is important to think about your end goals instead of simply thinking about the number of animals you have now. Our 93 acres were far more than a small flock of chickens, geese, and three goats would ever need, and certainly more than I wanted to garden, but it allows us plenty of room for future farm stock and crops. While I would encourage those searching for land to set their acreage goals high, that does not mean that you need to only look for pastures and tillable land.

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