Could you leave the city for rural living? Countless people count themselves fortunate to reside in a big, busy city or the sprawling suburbs. They're drawn by the hustle and bustle, the convenience of absolutely everything - abundant shopping, extensive public transit, the fabulous array of entertainment and recreation facilities, including inter-connecting parks and bike paths and a throbbing mix of diverse cultures. A multitude of services abound in every direction.
They couldn't even imagine rural living, let along actually doing it. City dwellers appreciate the close proximity to friends and jobs, often traveling about on foot. For me, it's hard to imagine, but some rarely walk those feet out of town!
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Why bother when everything they need is close at hand?
There are others, though, that dream of rural living, the quiet country life. Their ideal is to be as far away as possible from the stifling heat of the concrete and asphalt, smog and water pollution and the never-ending stress and chronic noise of high-density city living. Some are put off by the obnoxious odours of industry and commerce, quick tempers and honking horns, snarled traffic congestion and the visual reminders of the plight of the poor and homeless souls guarding their sparse worldly possessions while keeping barely warm, huddled, lonely on city subway grates or in dark, dank alleys.
City living can be expensive, but the price of quiet with country real estate can set you back some too.
If you long to escape what is sometimes referred to as 'the big smoke', do your due diligence before heading for the hills. If none of your friends or family are country folk, then allow me to offer you a few ideas to ponder about rural living.
First of all, country life isn't for
everyone. Yes, it's usually quieter, cleaner and there's obviously less
traffic to contend with because, well, there are fewer people participating in
rural living. But there are ...
Unless you're in a small town, you can't just pop into the corner convenience store for milk and bread because there isn't one. Do you have kids or plan to have a family? With rural living, get ready to be a shuttle service because most kid's activities will be in town. Big yellow school buses will promptly cart your kids to and from school and probably pick them up at the foot of your driveway. So, that's okay unless they're involved in extra-curricular activities after school.
If weather conditions are poor, there's always the chance that buses won't be running. Your kids will be very disappointed about missing school, of course, but they'll have what is referred to as a 'snow day' - no school. Thus, be prepared to take a day off work too if your kids are young. Hmm - not such a bad idea.
Nights are usually quiet - great for sleeping. No sirens or car horns or diesel engines or noisy neighbours blaring their mega-sound systems from across the alley or skinny city lot. Proximity of neighbours takes on a whole new significance, whether city or country living, if you get no satisfaction from the rockin' sounds of The Rolling Stones reverberating from your neighbour's house.
And a cloudless sky at night is incredible. Because there are no polluting city lights, you'll actually be able to enjoy a vast black velvet sky pin-pricked by a multitude of lights from ...
One similarity between country life and city life is the importance of location. For rural real estate, if you live adjacent a working farm, you may experience some noise from farm machinery or animals and the occasional odorous scent of manure or chemical-based fertilizer. I suggest you avoid living too close to a pig farm - bad smells and bad energy.
Something else to watch out for in rural life are quarries. They may seem innocuous, but blasting does occur and the aggregate must be carted away - hence dump trucks. Lot's of them. Therefore, if you don't mind the regular rumble of trucks traveling to and fro past your country home on an hourly basis, you needn't worry.
If you know little about rural living, you may be unaware that the water supply and sewage are quite different from the city.
In the city or 'burbs, for water, just turn on your faucet and drink. Well, not exactly. If you're at all concerned about the quality of your water, you'll have a sophisticated filtration system to remove the chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants. And once your sewage, called gray or black water, goes down the drain, you don't have to give it another thought.
It's almost the same in the country. Your water still flows from a faucet on demand, but the pressure comes from a pressure tank in your basement. And the water doesn't usually arrive through a city pipe. It's pumped from your own well which may be dug, bored or drilled. You'll become quite familiar with terms such as water potability, flow and recovery rates.
If you're on a private well, it's prudent to perform regular potability testing of your water for coliform and E.coli. This should be done at least annually. The local Public Health Unit may do it free of charge. Total coliform is a group of bacteria present in animal waste and sewage, but is also found in soil and on vegetation. They're not usually considered disease-causing organisms. The presence of these bacteria in your well is usually the result of surface water run-off entering your well. Thus, look for good drainage away from your well-sealed, water-tight well cap, which should be at least 12 inches above grade. The presence of this bacteria in your well is usually from recent sewage contamination from a nearby source, such as a septic system or animal barn.
Water may be treated
and/or filtered using a chlorinator,
ultra-violet, distiller, ozonator, activated charcoal or reverse
osmosis system or any combination.
Unlike city sewage, which simply flows into the public sewer, ultimately treated by the municipality, for country real estate, it flows by gravity to a septic tank buried usually at the rear of your house and well away from your well. The sludge settles in the tank and the remaining water then flows into an extensive tile bed where it dissipates into the ground. Look for a large flat and sometimes raised open area where the grass may be greener and dandelions more prolific. Depending on usage volume, you'll need a septic service to pump out your tank every year or two.
A rural home is much the same as the city except that usually,
there's no natural gas available. Typically, the fuel options are oil,
wood, electricity, propane gas or combination. Nowadays, you can also
heat with ground source heat pumps or a geothermal system. Also, solar power has been making serious advancements. The latter are
expensive, but you're pretty much off the grid and self-sufficient for
heat and air conditioning.
Usually with rural living, there's no cable television service available unless in or very close to town. Satellite may be your only option. And if you're a big Internet consumer, check to make sure high-speed is available because it's not everywhere. You may not even have cell phone access around your home. Oh my goodness - how would one manage?
Rural living or city living? Wide open peaceful spaces where you don't have to pay for parking, or in smaller efficient spaces where you can reach out and touch your neighbour? Commune with the natural environment of country life or with the nurturing womb of city life?
Any honest, experienced realty agent can assist you with city real estate or suburban. But if the idea of rural living rings your bell, if the trade-offs are worth it for you, I strongly recommend you work with a country specialist, one who's familiar with country real estate and country living.
If you'd care to contact me, I may be able to recommend a good city, suburban, rural or recreational real estate agent for you. Or if you prefer to seek one for yourself, I invite you to read this page and further explore my site.
To learn more about
and buying rural property, click here. And here to learn about buying vacant land. To search for homes, visit our Multipe Listing Service in Canada or The United States.
If you prefer to expand your knowledge even more, check out my book The Happy Agent. Though written to help professional realty agents improve their skills, it will also serve as a great resource for both home buyers and sellers interested in learning more about the buying and selling process - with or without an agent. It contains the sum total of the real estate knowledge, philosophies and techniques that I've accumulated, practiced and polished during a highly successful 40+ year realty career.
This easy-read book, including its numerous home buying tips, will teach you what to look out for whether seeking city, suburban or rural real estate, what to expect from and ask your agent, how to successfully negotiate an offer and more. Loads of information within its pages will help you make a thoroughly informed decision.
When spending big money, I'd say it's smart to make informed choices. Wouldn't you?
investment of your time and a pittance of your
money could save you thousands of dollars and a ton of heartache.
Remember - knowledge is power.
Available virtually everywhere print and e-books are sold.
Do you plan to buy a rural home in the near future and have questions? Or when you bought rural, it didn't go as smoothly as you had hoped? Did something unusual occur? Maybe you had some challenges regarding the well or septic or the surprise discovery of a quarry in the next concession? Or after moving from the suburbs, you quickly learned that your alarm clock has become redundant since your neighbour's rooster disturbs your beauty sleep every morning when dawn cracks?
Do you think you have the best, worst, funniest or most embarrassing story to tell about your misadventure? Or are you worried about some aspect of your upcoming rural home search?
Here's your chance to compare notes, share tips or concerns and maybe learn from other guests in a similar situation. I'll personally respond to your story as well.
I invite you to submit your story, article, commentary or questions about your experience - successful or otherwise.
This support forum is not intended as an opportunity to complain. It's a chance to express yourself and hopefully help others who may be faced with a similar challenging situation. Maybe they can learn from your story. Please provide respectful remarks and advice only. Profanity, disrespectful or abusive comments will not be tolerated.
I implore you to treat this as a soft place for friendly people to land, share and learn from each other and maybe share a chuckle. I'll do my best to respond when appropriate in a supportive and encouraging manner, and answer as timely as possible any questions within the realm of my expertise.