Monday, July 9, 2018

Acreage v. Structure Dilemma

We began our search for our new address a few weeks ago in Arkansas.  We were there for 2 weeks and saw several properties.  There were some maybes, some that fit most of our criteria, and we could make it work.  I also had some definite warnings of "NO, turn around now!"  However, none really spoke to me "this is the one" to me.... or even hinted those words to me.

Onward to Missouri.....

It just feels good here.  Like we are in the right general vicinity.  But nothing specific yet.

We looked at a few properties with an agent, and one without.  

I think the biggest obstacle is that Eric and I are not exactly clear on what we actually want, specifically. 
We thought we wanted:
land - 20 acres-ish
Mostly wooded
a well
another natural water source - spring, creek, pond
a septic system (Many rural properties have lagoons.  I'm not so keen on open sewage water)
a structure
the more outbuildings, the better

After seeing several properties, walking them, getting a feel for how big 5 acres actually is, or 12 acres, what wooded is, or pasture, or "natural landscaping," and much more, has given me a better idea of my preferences.

The reality is that we are not likely to get everything on our list with the budget we have to work with.  We may just find our needle in the haystack, but I am preparing for compromise.

The following dilemma arises: less land, more house, or more land, less house.  It is truly a back and forth struggle.

We looked at several houses with around 5 acres, thinking a dwelling may be the way to go. 

SIDE NOTE -  There is actual tangible land freedom here!  You buy land - you can do what you want with it.  There are ZERO building codes in some counties.  We walked into a house that looked super cute from the front and inside pictures on the listing.  It was comprised of an OLD mobile home and added onto, then siding and a roof to make it all one.  The mobile home was rotting in several areas, holes in the floor.  "Interesting" to say the least.  However, I appreciate the freedom afforded to each to build as they choose and my freedom to choose to buy or not.  11 acres with a pond and several out buildings or no, it was not for us.

We looked at a few real fixer uppers.  One place had no kitchen.  It was a rental property and the renters took the kitchen cabinets and appliances.  Sad for the owners.  The property had a pond and a few outbuildings too.  The outbuildings were structurally sound, but right next to the road - not the best for animals.  It just didn't speak to me.

There was a house was on 5 acres on a long, long flag lot.  The house was falling apart.  They said it had a new roof.  There was a new roof - over and covering up the old saggy one, with no repairs made.  The floor was uneven from room to room and one of the walls was obviously not plum.  The ceiling was severely bowed.  There was no chance of buying more land.  The property was originally 40 acres and 35 were sold to a "young couple 2 years ago."

We looked at a mobile home park  - almost 7 acres, 14 units, and one collector/hoarder of semi trucks, trailers, RV's, commercial freezer doors, broken down cars, and all kinds of space taking random stuff.  It is profitable, but not feelin' it.

We drove to a remote location.  The property was a foreclosure, but the house was in GREAT shape.  It was perfect for us!  Layout, size, feel, colors, bedrooms and bathrooms, stairs.  The onions picked out their rooms and roommates.  They made lots of plans.  They even affectionately called it the "doll house." 
It was like a sore thumb, in the middle of a field.  The trees were along the boarders, and close enough neighbors to figure out more land was not likely.

We jumped a fence to see another property.  It was severely vandalized.  No front or back door.  Birds nests on/in the walls inside.  Fixtures torn out, drywall removed, copper wire stripped.  Mouse droppings everywhere.  Furniture, clothes, toys, stuffed animals.  There was evidence of several attempted fires outside - piles of clothes and stuffed animals, lumber, trash.  The pump house for the well was knocked over resulting in broken pipes and the wires were cut too.  The box on the electrical pole was lighted on fire - the components were melted.  All that disgusting said, the frame of the house was in good shape.  There is a well and septic tank in place, although functionality is unknown.  There is also a creek that runs through the 60 acre property that adjoins national forest on 2 sides.  We did not venture far from the driveway and house because we did not have a plot map and we had no clue where the creek might be (60 acres is huge). 

The agent that worked with us last week is out at a training in Kansas this week.  We may do some drive-bys and maybe some more fence jumping this week.  We shall see.

I think I still want land.  5 acres seems a bit small to run free and not worry about neighbors.  11/12 acres feels ok.  But my thinking is the more the better.

Buying a house is pretty sketchy out here.  NO building codes means we must be very careful and do our due diligence. 

We looked into building our own house - for real.  There are house kits that you can buy and build it yourself.  This is totally new to me, but very attractive.  Then we have what we want.

Eric and I made a spread sheet of estimated costs.  Buying land, drilling a well and installing septic, and then building, puts us at a cost about the same as a house already built, WITH a garage and several outbuildings, garden spot etc.  But we could live in our RV while we save up the money.

Oh, the struggle.

Several people have assured us that we will know it when we find where we are meant to be. 
I continue to have faith in the process and hope for an address soon.

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