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Advisor

Greener grass/other side of the fence?

As I finished up my morning cyber-pass, I checked on an order pending with amazon, and they caught my eye with some recommendations.  Yes, I know this is a not-so-subtle way of hooking me on yet another book; but I do not do drugs, and everyone needs at least ONE addiction, right? 

Along with one promising review of a title on gardening as we get older (order one book on retirement planning, and you get pigeonholed as "old"), they pitched a whole string of moving-to-the-country tomes at me today.  I had seen a couple of this genre' in the bookstore last week, while shopping with my Christmas gift cards, but passed.  The one book I had bought on this subject a couple of years ago was so full of porch-sittin', banjo-pluckin' BS, it made me want to scream. 

Evidently, the city-smart, corporate exec life style is wearing thin, and women are heading to the country in droves...or, at least they want to do it.  Some are young enough not to know better...they tend to turn up in a couple, from what I see in the reviews.   The more mature ones are often leaving their high-rise lives on their own, to brave it out here in the sticks. 

I have nothing against anyone living anywhere they want to go.  There was a sort of shock wave of peopel wanting to leave big cities after 9/11,  but that had seemed to wane for a while.   This movement has a different driving force, not fear, but more like fwhat i call "reedom from...", as in freedom from a shallow existnece.   

It just amazes me that romance with a simpler life - if you can call country life "simpler," I honestly do not think it is, really - is a hot literary topic these days. 

Is it ironic to you that our young people cannot wait to move to the city, but city people cannot wait to move out here to the Middle of Nowhere? 

Are you seeing any of  these folks move in around you? 

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14 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

Oh yes, as I posted in another post our community is 3 hr. from Chicago & off the interstate which draws them.  Some of them are older, retired & wanting to do another type of farming.  One couple raise exoctic birds-in a beautiful house on about 5 A.  Some are drawn because of hunting-which has gotten pretty sparse as far as folks that will let you hunt on their property.  Then we have seen some move here because of property prices & taxes & wanting to raise a family in a rural area. 

When we had our well worked on, the fellow was telling about a city guy that built a very nice house out in the country only to find out the only place he could drill a well successfully was miles away.  Ah-common sense!

Right now there's a fancy house being finished on the hill about 5 M. from here by a Chicago man.  The building behind-not sure if it's a garage or what-looks like it could be a guest house or something.  Then another smaller building behind that.  All atop a hill with a winding  drive down to the highway with no windbreak or anything. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

Those are the kind you want to keep the old houses for. They usually love the romantic details of houses built in the early part of last century. Let them spend a whole year there dealing with the cold and drafts in the winter. A dry well in the summer wouldn't hurt either. These parts, a sample well is dug before a building permit is given, preventing the ignorance of common sense.

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Advisor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

We see that "house on the hill" thing when we head towards the mountains.  They would be so much more comfortable if they'd nestle into the protected south side, instead of perching up into the wind. from every direction. 

The main influx we see here is retirees mostly, buying old homes in small villages.  I hope they are bringing plenty of money to heat them!  Out in the countryside, the only really nice houses here are the few surviving plantation homes, and they tend to stay in families for many generations.  It doesn't make much sense to fix up a house as bad as ours once was (some days, feels like it still is!)

That guy with the well problem is going to have to look for someone to haul water...good sideline for some dairy haulers? Some of the mountain'living people have to fill cisterns with tankers, which is one thing that has helped me keep Mike on flatter land.  Can you imagine what it costs to haul water, with fuel prices where they are now? 

Do you folks ever place bets with one another as to how long someone will last before they bug out?  I am sure some of the natives here thought we would be gone in sixteen days, sixteen years ago. 

Using an existing pre-electricity house made it a bit easier to know that we could survive here.  I'd hate to go to a strange piece of land and start all the way from scratch., wouldn't you?  

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Advisor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

Here, the bigger concern is septic absorption...the health departmetn drills and looks for mottling in the subsoil, which indicates a high seasonal water table that would defeat the function of a drainage field.

Wells are on us to figure out, although the sanitarian will helop you site one, relative to the septic system, there has to be a minimum separation distance, and both have to be set back far enough from exterior property lines and house foundations.  It can be impossibe to find a septic site on even a huge piece of land in this soggy place. 

Yes, that kind loves old houses.  Unfortunately, when the heating bill gets too high, the first things they change out are the windows, and ruin the whole historic appeal of the place.  They buy a house for one reason, and immediately distroy that reason's main attractions. I always say that people want to restore an old house - once! 

What percentage of them would you say manage to stay longterm? 

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Advisor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

Our local economy is so depressed that we would welcome anyone seeking to come here and buy property and pay taxes and contribute to our community.  I don't care if they are "city slickers" or pink elephants! 

 

We have city slicker neighbors that we rent ground from.  They are great folks and have been wonderful neighbors, even keeping an eye on Sable or picking up Ed from the field when he needed a ride.  They are retired but still have a small part time business and really make our community a better place. 

 

A bit further down the road, a couple moved here from Las Vegas a few years ago.  They call their five acres a farm which makes me kind of chuckle but, again, they are great people.  He is a very talented electrician and has been available for hire in an emergency a couple of times.  Their teenage son wanted work one summmer and was a great kid to have help out with barnyard chore and projects.

 

I think that the more folks move from the city to the country the better.  It helps us get the message out to those who know nothing about where their food comes from and what a farm(er) really is all about.  I know there are city folks who come out to the country and object to the noise, odor, dust, and traffic issues but they can be educated to understand that there is another side to the bucolic image they have of country life.  Most, not all, are pretty understanding.  A gift of fresh veggies from the garden usually wins people over. 

 

I hope the trend continues.  I would much prefer city folks in my community than empty houses that invite drug dealers and doers. 

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Advisor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

We are starting to see some empty houses here, too.  Gasoline prices and energy to heat an old, air-leaky house, are starting to force some renters out of the country, and closer to town.  I wonder if any of them will see new inhabitants. 

I just find it ironic that people always seem to want what they do not have, al least until they have it!

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Senior Contributor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

The transplants have purchased acreages in this area for a long time. Within the last 10 years, complaints about drinking water amounts rose with the drought we had. Many built or purchased farmhouses in the hilly part of the county so they could have the views. Don't they realize that with hills, you are further from the water table. A hog building drilled a well about a half mile to find water and pipe it back. I can't imagine what the well cost for that one. The land changes hands, but there is always a new generation of adventure takers.

 

As for the older people moving to the country, it will be a longer distance to the hospital for emergencies. With age, heart attacks, strokes and accidents tend to happen more often. The deadlest accidents occur far from the paved roads and metro hospitals. Distance can mean the difference between a hospital stay and funeral.

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Advisor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

Wells have gotten more expensive.  We had to put a new one in on a rental house in VA in January, and it was an unpleasant surprise. 

Piping with PVC is up due to oil prices, I am sure, but a half-mile is not too bad...we've got miles of underground pipe for water and irrigation here. 

I guess you are right that there is a steady stream of country fantasy-seekers.  It seems to be slowed to a trickle here, though.  Most are stopping in the small villages, and buying there. 

Mike's little chainsaw mishap Friday made us quite mindful of how far the ER is from home.  Fortunately, the bleeding was nto too hard to staunch, and I had some training to help keep him straight until we could get there.  We will just have to hope for the best, for now. 

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Contributor

Re: Greener grass/other side of the fence?

I might as well hold up my hand and claim I am one of those guilty parties mentioned...(except for destroying an  old house's integrity. I know better) I did buy a 1991 house on a hill but it is protected from the south west wind by a wooded area. My insurance agent also said I didn't need flood insurance due to the elevation.  I have county water but a back up well with a deep drill but I haven't tested it.

Due to the economy I have a small bungalow in Dayton that won't sell but I still need it because it's close to work. After I retire I may just rent it out instead of sell it depending on property values that have went down considerably. Taking care of two homes can be a real strain let alone one so the chance of me selling it regardless of any profit is high.

 

 Being fourteen miles from the nearest hospital does make me stop to think about medical care . My family doctor is only a few miles away so that is some comfort. Most everyone here in bad shape is air lifted to bigger cities. I'd hate to see the medical bill on that one? =:0

 

I'm trying to think of other methods of profit other than the standard corn/soybeans/lifestock.  Three quarters of my land is sloped, not severely but enough that open tillage would erode the ground quick. Most of it is clay and rock and many suggest cattle because of the terrain and soil quality.  My background is in horticulture and forestry so here is my latest braindrain.

Don't laugh Smiley Wink

  I'll be planting a hybrid hazelnut orchard. It's a long term program approximately five years to produce and much of the maintenance will be trying to keep the wildlife off the product and pruning for an open canopy. People plant American hazelnuts to attract deer and Lord knows we've got herds that run here so protective measures will have to be installed as soon as they are planted. They've wrecked most of the apple trees and I installed a solar electric fence but it doesn't work too well with our winters. Hunters are welcome here. Smiley Happy  

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