Rural living is a way of life for some people, but buying land can be a huge (an expensive!) undertaking. Pre-pandemic land prices were getting crazy, but since 2021 getting hold of land without busting the budget is harder than ever. Thankfully we formed a plan in 2016, bought an older mobile home and started rehab while living in a mobile home park, then bought our property in 2019 before land prices sky rocketed.
May vs. July 2019: The raw land with well house before the move, then after the move with our home and a small drylot for horses in place. We didn’t have a hay barn, so had to put up a tarp garage for dry hay storage.
Rural Living: Loans For Buying Land Only
We had to take out two personal loans on top of our land loan. Part of the reason for that is that buying land with no home usually requires a commercial loan through a bank, preferably through a bank you already have some business relationship with.
These loans don’t have FHA and 3% down, and loans for buying land are more of a risk since the buyer isn’t forced (or able) to live on the property. For a $34.9K land loan, we had to pay $8.5K for a down payment and closing costs. In the grand scheme of things this is very affordable, however we were in a tight financial situation at the time. Thankfully between taking out a loan on our truck and a personal loan, we were able to swing the costs.
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Buying Cheap Land and Minimizing Debt
We bought 7.5 acres with a well and septic already on site (the prior home had burned in 2015) and about 3/4 acre cleared for yard, home, and horses. Buying this type of property saved us at least $20K in upfront costs by having the well and septic in place. Further, there were no zoning restrictions for this property, so we were able to move our older single wide mobile home to the property.
Moving our mobile home to the property was an extra $1.5K (knocked down to $1.1K as some of our plumbing got damaged in the move – so we had to take into account extra plumbing costs). It cost a lot of physical labor and some minor costs for pipes, fittings, etc. to get hooked up to the well and septic system, plus a ditch digger rental cost since the hookups were damaged and needed moved and rebuilt.
In all, it took about $15K to get moved to our land. Keep in mind, this is with an older mobile home we already owned and that couldn’t have a loan taken on it (1970’s model) – a land/mobile home package would likely have covered a lot of costs, but with a much bigger monthly payment.
We managed to pay off our personal loans within the first 2 years, and are left with a $240/month payment that will be paid off in 10 years. We also could have gotten a 20 year loan with more money down, but the monthly savings were nil, so we went with the 10 year commercial land loan. Because we want the land usable for horses and other purposes, there are ongoing projects and expenditures, but overall, this was a VERY good deal for us.
Summer 2020: Our land is old pasture that’s been allowed to grow wild for over 50 years! Cleaning it up for horses has been a slow build, and this shows the first year of clean up and the horses out on 1.5 acres of wooded land. They still have their .3 acre drylot next to the house, which we close them in for windy conditions (falling limbs) and acorn season.
We’ve basically traded the amount of time we spend improving our land for a lower mortgage. Honestly I love the process of bringing our land back to usable, so I’m glad we went this route! Since my husband works full time, a lot of this work falls on me, and until mid-2022 we didn’t have a tractor. Some of the work is tedious and back breaking, and incredibly slow going, so in early 2023 we had a neighbor clear some of the trees for us to open up more land and pasture for the horses.
Comparison: just after buying and hand clearing some areas compared to newly cleared land in 2023:
Late 2019 vs Early 2023: Despite the tree cover, this land has been trying to grow grass, and there’s hints of a future pasture coming up in the newly cleared areas! Compared to 2019 when we moved in and only had about 3/4 of an acre usable for horses, we now have our entire 7.5 acres accessible with thinner tree cover still available in the back 5 acres. All that’s left to get the horses out is to finish fencing!
Rural Living Vs. Urban Living, and Pros and Cons of Rural Living:
I tried urban living for close to 20 years, and I have to say, I hated it lol. Rural living gives me room to breath, back roads to ride my horse, spaces for gardening and wooded areas, and so much more. For the introvert, it’s a perfect living situation. For the extrovert that loves convenience, rural living may not be your ideal.
5 pros to rural living (there are so many more!):
- Peace and quiet – an essential for me.
- Lots of land for hobbies, horses, gardening, etc.
- I have a special needs horse, so boarding is no longer ideal – see more about him on my PSSM – Jax’s Story blog if you want to read about his muscle disorder and care.
- I grow a lot of herbs for my chronic Lyme, and I can have several garden spaces here.
- Depending on zoning, you can do/build whatever you want on your land.
- No pet restrictions: due to a feral cat situation on the property when we bought it, I have LOTS of cats, and I adore them. I did have to spend money getting them fixed, some disappeared, etc. – we’re currently at 5 cats, which is a good number. We’re planning on having goats and chickens in addition to our cats and horses once the property is ready.
- Morning sunrises with coffee by the koi pond (this is also possible in urban living, but a rural setting is just so perfect for this).
5 cons to rural living (I’m sure for some, there are many more!):
- We’re about 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store and restaurants, though we do have convenience stores and a Dollar Store within 5 miles (we’re a couple miles out from a very small town, 45 minutes from our previous city of Springfield, MO, and 30 minutes from Bolivar, MO where we do a lot of our shopping and eating out). We have to go to Springfield for a lot of our building supplies.
- Dogs running at large – seriously, no one keeps their dogs in, so it’s up to you to keep them out! Fencing out errant cattle is also necessary at our property.
- Wildlife is more prevalent, and along with keeping out neighbor animals, you have coyotes, foxes, and more to protect your property and animals from.
- This is a LOT of work. Even if you’re just maintaining a larger lawn, it’s a far cry from the 1/4 acre you usually get in an urban setting. If you’re repurposing several acres like we are, the amount of work is huge. Having the right equipment can really offset this con though!
- As with urban living, you can get nasty neighbors! One neighbor in particular doesn’t like my horse being on the roads, and was incredibly nasty about it (driving dangerous with a semi while I was riding, cussing me, etc). Since horses are a legal form of transportation and allowed on roads, his problem is not my problem – I let him know that, and that I’ve previously worked in a law firm, and have had no problems with him since. I should add, there are a LOT of other horse owners that ride on the roads here – they’ve lived here for years, and this neighbor never felt the inclination to act like this towards them. [end rant lol]
I can’t end this post on the cons to rural living, because there’s just too much that I love about rural living. Buying land and bringing in my older mobile home is one of the best things I’ve done for my sanity and my happiness, and having my horses on property is a blessing that I hope I’ll never live without again. If you’re looking for a way to save money while getting moved to land, then maybe a similar setup will work well for you! Click here for more on our journey specific to our mobile home rehab.