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What We Covered
Some of the most common questions we receive are regarding location – how far out is far enough, or too far? How to figure out what area to pick for your homestead? These questions and more are covered in this episode.
We’ll share our thoughts on finding the right balance between remote and secluded, and our process for finding what works for your family since everyone is different.
00:00 – Intro
00:43 – Remote vs Secluded
06:45 – Steps to find the right area
10:09 – Resources
12:38 – Make a list that includes: Essentials, Important, Nice to Have
24:24 – In-person visit
25:10 – Renting a Useful Strategy
30:47 – Question of the week: “How many acres do you have and how far are you from town?”
Welcome to the ReadyLife Podcast! I’m Nick Meisner. And I’m Lisa, his wife. And today, we’re going to be talking about finding your dream homestead. Where are you going to find it at? Is it going to be in a remote location? Or is it going to be secluded? And how remote is too remote? Or how remote is enough? And what is really secluded?
Remote vs Secluded
That’s right. One of the chronic issues that we would run into when talking with realtors is that they did not get it when we would say we were looking for something remote. They would inevitably be showing us these properties that were a couple of miles out of town on this nice paved road and everything, and we were like, no, you do not get it. We’re talking so remote that they have to pipe air into you.
And so… We were constantly faced with this problem and in the many, many years that we were looking for property in various parts of the country. But I remember when a lesson was driven home to us by a nurseryman in the North Georgia mountains when we were looking for property there years ago. And somebody told us we were asking around for remote property. And they said, oh, you need to go talk to Amos over here. And so we went over and we talked to Amos.
And we told him, we want remote, we want really remote. That’s what we’re looking for. He said, you want remote? He said, come follow me. So he hopped in his old pickup and took off down this pretty heavily trafficked road. Well, I say heavily trafficked, not by city standards, but by country standards. It was a paved road that was kind of a through way between two little areas. And so there was a lot of local traffic that went up and down this road. And he took us down this road and we drove, oh, I don’t remember, it was maybe four or five miles, something like that. And then he pulled over on the side of the road and he got out of his pickup and started walking into the woods, wanted us to follow him. And we were like, Amos, you don’t understand. We’re talking, we want remote. And he said, come follow me.
And so anyhow, we followed him. And we walked around this little rise, and he said, see over there? And he pointed over to a little creek that was back behind the rise. Said, see over there? And we saw some, oh, I think it had some PVC pipes and a steel drum or something like that. He said, yeah, we see that. And he said, that was the longest-standing still in the state of Georgia ever in history. I don’t remember the number of years, but it was quite a length of time that it had been running. And his point was that he was trying to drive home to us is the difference between remote and secluded. And his point was that this property here that was for sale, it was not necessarily remote by our standards. But it was secluded, in that it was tucked away. It was out of sight of the road and it was in a location that was not an obvious location. And because of that, because it wasn’t out where you stick out like a sore thumb, it was tucked away nicely. The longest still in George’s history had been housed there. And so I thought that was an interesting mountain folk kind of way of illustrating that point to us. the lesson was well taken and we tucked that away and we’ve thought of that many times since then when we would look at property, because I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a lot of folks in our neck of the woods that are remote, but they’re not secluded.
That’s right, that’s right. In fact, you know, you were just, while you were sharing that story, I was thinking about how many times we’ve gotten a question over and over and over again from folks that say, Oh, I don’t know if I want to go out into the country because it’s so far away or whatever. And this story comes to mind because it’s like, you don’t have to go two hours from the nearest gas station in order to be remote or to be secluded, really. You could be a five-minute drive from town and still have a secluded, nice country property. Personally, I’d rather be more than five minutes from town unless it’s a little bitty town. But the point is the difference between those two, remote and secluded, and they’re not the same thing.
That’s right. And if I had to pick one or the other, I would pick secluded over remote. Yes, we live very, very remote, in fact, and on our way into our house, our property, which is both remote and secluded, we drive right past within, I don’t know, is it a… is like a mile from our property. Would you say right past or right through? Right, almost right through our neighbor’s front yard. So we can see everything, bless his heart. But, you know, it’s not very private. And any of the neighbors who use this road to access their property drive right through his front yard. And so he’s not secluded at all. But let me tell you what. The guy is remote. He’s an hour away from the nearest sizable town. And it’s like, what’s the point? I don’t understand. Why would you live this far out just to have people driving through your yard? So what that looks like is gonna be different for different areas and the lay of the land. Cause like here, we’re heavily wooded and we have hills and mountains and everything. And so a much smaller piece of property could potentially be secluded and tucked away here. Whereas if you were in, let’s say, Wyoming or somewhere in the Great Plains, where it’s flat and no trees, you might need a larger piece of land in order to be tucked away and secluded. You could be remote, but not necessarily secluded. Yes, very true.
Anyhow, what are some steps for finding the right location? And in a future podcast, we’ll be talking about what to look for in specific pieces of land and things that you can do before you even go to look at pieces of property, and then things that you need to look for when you’re actually looking at those specific pieces of property. But right now, we wanna kind of back away a little bit and look at this question of how do I even find out what area I want to look at? And we find that a lot of folks have a lot of success with going to an area that is not too far away from them.
Yeah. In fact, it was really interesting in a survey that we ran recently. One of the questions was how far did you move to your current country home? for folks who were already living in the country now. And another question on the survey was, “How would you rate your country living experience?” And I found it really interesting that the folks who had not had a very good experience that rated kind of on the lower end that their experience hadn’t been too great, there was a higher percentage of them who had moved a long distance. And in the category of folks who rated their experiences as having been a very positive experience, the vast majority had moved not very far. It was like 250 miles or less to get there. So that doesn’t mean that you can’t move a long distance. It just means that there’s more potential for things to go wrong. There’s a lot that you don’t know about an area when you’re moving a long distance, and it’s harder. Let’s face it, moving cross country is more challenging. Leaving your friends and your family and everything that you’ve known for years behind, it’s hard.
Right. So that’s something that I would consider at the beginning is to see if there are potential areas that are closer to you rather than feeling like you have to move across the country. Maybe you do need to. Maybe that’s the right place for you. And it was for us. We moved across the country, but that isn’t the way that it works for a lot of folks. So just bear that in mind.
Make a List
But probably the first step in figuring out where you want to be for your country property is to sit down and make a list. Like that really is, that’s what we did before we actually purchased our property. We sat down and made a list. We had a dreaming session. And I love dreaming sessions. I’m a bit more of a dreamer probably.
Yeah, it was really helpful because then what we were able to do was once we had our list all hammered out, which took a while. We kept adding to it and changing it. But once we had our list, then when we came to look at this property, we were able to say, well, it’s got that thing and it has that thing and it has that thing. Yeah, I think this might be a good fit for us. Anyway, so yeah, the first step is really to make a list. That’s right.
And one thing that’s going to be really helpful to you in making your list is some resources, finding maps, and finding things that you may not have even thought of to consider. And so one resource that I would point you to is our video set Sustainable Preparedness 101. You can find that on susprep.com. And this set walks through a lot of this information, like what to look for in a location, what to look for in specific pieces of property, and things like this. So that’s one resource.
Another free resource that we have for you, it’s actually on our YouTube channel. If you go to YouTube and search for sustainable preparedness, we have the entire video called Go Forward on there for free. And that is an old video. It was the very first one that we ever did. But it has a lot of principles that are timeless. And it even has maps and things. Yes, those maps may have changed a little since then. But the general idea is going to be fairly similar. So that’s another resource.
Now, that gives you a lot of food for thought as you go through that video to just write down, I need to look up a topography map or demographics or, you know, just a lot of different things that sometimes you don’t think about when you’re dreaming of your dream home and where you wanna put it. So that video was very helpful. Right.
And then another resource that we found to be very useful and a lot of other folks have too, it’s called Strategic Relocation, and it’s by Joel Skousen. And this book comes from… a slightly different perspective. It’s bringing in all kinds of strategic things that you might want to think about as far as earthquakes, military targets, and all sorts of different things like this.
Yes, the latest edition, we don’t actually have the latest edition yet. I want to get that. But we were just reading about it and he says that in this latest edition that just came out, he’s updated it for things that happened during the pandemic and stuff like that. He’s changed his rating of various states. You may or may not agree with his rating, but it’s food for thought, and he’s got a lot of useful maps in there. So that’s another good resource.
But when you’re making a list, didn’t we like to break it down to three categories with our list of what we wanted, right? Yeah, in fact, what we did was we sat down and had a dreaming session where we just dreamed up everything that we felt was either important or that we wished for or whatever it was. You know, it didn’t matter. We just sat down and we wrote it all down on the list.
And then once we had, like once we’d done our brain dump of all the items that we could think of, then we sat down and we organized them based upon priorities. And I forget what we called the different categories. So that was the essentials category. That’s right. They were our non-negotiables. We had to have these. If it didn’t have that, we weren’t even going to look at it. That’s right.
And then there were the important things that were very important to us, but we might be able to work around it. Right. We could possibly do without them. And then there were the nice-to-have things that were just, you know, the cherry on top. That’s right.
The Essentials List
So I’m trying to think of some examples of what are the kinds of things that would go in the essentials category. Well, on our last podcast, you mentioned that humans have three basic necessities, right? So water, heat, and food or gardening ability. So those would be kind of on the essential list, right? You need to have a good supply of water.
In fact, that was one reason why we were concerned about this property because initially, when you look at the well logs in this area, there was little to no water. And there are dry wells around here, quarter-gallon-a-minute wells, and this property had a spring, but we were not confident that the spring was sufficient. And so that was kind of a big question mark when we first looked at this property. We just weren’t sure.
I think we had heard, we thought we had heard some, the owner saying that it had gone dry or something. And then when we double-checked about it, he said, no, it’s been very reliable. But we were like, okay, I think we’re gonna Check it. Check it out for ourselves. Yes. So yeah, water, having sufficient water was on our essentials list and then having enough timber on the property so that we would have a sustainable or renewable source of firewood to heat with.
Legal access because if you can’t get to the property, if you can’t physically legally get to the property, you can’t get to the property. to the property, it doesn’t do you any good. Unless you’re a helicopter pilot. Yeah, exactly. And you own your own helicopter. Right.
And then another one that was in our essentials list that you might raise your eyebrows at a little bit was good internet. But that was because that’s how we make a living–with the internet. And so if we didn’t have a good way to access the internet from where we live, then it was going to cause us to have to commute into town and rent an office or who knows what, which there’s just no sense in that. And so that was something that we put on our essentials. And you’ll have to think of what are the things like that that are gonna be unique for you that are essential.
Yeah, like for some people that I’ve talked with, having a higher proportion of sunny days than cloudy days is really important because they deal with depression or… Maybe it’s something where their health isn’t as good and they need to be within more easy, striking distance of a hospital. For us, those were not issues and so they weren’t on our essentials list. But for some people, they are on their essentials list. So you just have to think about what’s important to you and your family and then move those items into your essentials list.
The Important List
Right, so what are some things that were, that… could potentially be on the important list. Good soil. Yes. And the reason why that would be important rather than essential is that soil is something that you can change. You can build it up.
Right. You can make compost and build it up, or you can import topsoil if it’s good, or things like this. That can be altered, but it can take a lot of work. Yes. So it’s got to be something that you’re willing and you feel like you’re up to the challenge or conquering. Right.
Southern exposure is another one that comes to mind. Depending upon you, that might even be an essential. But I think it could go either way for various folks. Southern exposure is really important if you’re going to do a solar power system, also for agriculture. Yes, the sun goes higher in the horizon during the summer, so you’re probably not going to have an issue in the summer. But during the early summer, late winter, spring months, and during the fall months, when you’re trying to extend your growing season, that’s when you could potentially run into issues if you had a mountain to your south or something like that. You’ll have to get creative in extending your growing season if you don’t have a really great Southern exposure.
Also, if your work requires you to be somewhere in person, every day where you’re going to have a commute, then the distance that you’re having to commute could be an important factor. Is it essential? Well, it depends. It depends on how much you’re willing to drive. Right. But are you really willing to drive two or three hours a day every day of the workweek? That’s up to you. Employment is actually a really big issue. It is. I know we’ve talked with so many people who have moved to the country and they did not plan appropriately for this really essential topic. How are we going to make a living in the country? How can we make this move wisely? Because country living, it can be expensive. And so if you don’t have the means to make an income, then you really need to stop and reconsider what you’re doing and make a plan so you can make it work. And that is an upcoming episode. 100%. And really a lot of episodes, we’re going to be sharing little tips from folks who are working from the country, how they’re doing it, things like that to give you ideas. But we’ll have a lot more about that.
But another thing that comes to mind is physical access. Now in the essentials, we talked about legal access. But in the physical access category, I’m talking about things like how good is your road? Does it get really muddy when it rains or during spring break up if you’re in the northern country? If you’re in snow country, are you going to have to plow a lot or do you have really steep roads that could get icy? Or all these kinds of things, do you have floods that come through and wash the road out? Any kind of physical issues like that could be really important factors, maybe not make-it or break-it factors, because they could potentially be overcome, but could be challenging. Yes, I remember somebody asking us about that. They were looking at a property, actually near our general area, and they were getting ready to put an offer on it. And they were asking us, what do you think about this? And the realtor had made a comment to them. They hadn’t really gone, I think they had looked at pictures mostly, they were out-of-towners. And so the realtor had made a little comment about, you need to make sure you have a four-wheel drive vehicle to access the property. And I said, well, did you ask about that? Because that could be an issue. If you have to have a four-wheel drive to access the property, that may not be a problem, but it could also be a big problem. And you might be snowmobiling in and out in the wintertime. So yeah, they asked the realtor about it, and sure enough, access in the winter was basically snowmobiling.
And so they ended up switching and finding something else that much better fit their needs.
The Nice-To-Have List
So next is the nice-to-have category. And I’m kind of chuckling inside because I already know what your nice-to-have item is. Yes. It was hard not to put this on the essential list, I’ll be honest. I wanted a gorgeous mountain view. Not essential and really not important, but I really wanted one. But different things can tie together. Because we have that beautiful mountain view, that’s why we had good internet access. Yes, that’s true. Because we had a line of sight to a mountain that had a tower where we could do that. And if we didn’t have a line of sight with this particular system, it would not have worked.
Also, something like a creek. That could be a nice-to-have, or it could be an essential, depending upon how you’re planning on using that. But I would not recommend having a surface water source as your primary water source. But if you were going to do that, then it becomes an essential. But if you’re not, then it could be something that’s just useful for perhaps irrigating your lawn or maybe if there was sufficient fall, having a micro-hydro power system or something like that. So, you know, it could bump various levels. But the bottom line is you get the point. You’re going to make a list and check it twice and bump things up and down according to your particular needs. But you’ve got to do it because you’re not going to think of everything when you get into the heat of actually looking at stuff.
So what if somebody says, well, making a list is a great idea, but I’m going to put that on a list to do later when I get closer to actually buying a property? I wouldn’t recommend that. Now is your time to be making a list and figuring out what you need. Use your time now while you have it, would be my suggestion, because when the time comes where you’re starting to look at property, there’s a lot going on. There are a lot of changes happening in your life. And if you’ve thought it through now, it takes time to work through these things.
Well, and for our list, we started ours, and we kept changing and adding more things, or moving things around as we realized, wait, we could overcome this obstacle by doing this and this could be a benefit in this way and that way. And so then we’d move things around or we would add things to our list or realize, oh, you know what we hadn’t thought about was this one item and it needs to go on our important list. So it is helpful to start that list right now and dreaming about moving into the country is a really great way to get started. That’s right.
So once you’ve made your list, then you wanna… look at the various areas that are out there. And when I say areas, I’m talking about general areas of the country. And figure out what are the areas where I can meet all of my essentials. Because you’re probably going to find some that you can eliminate right off the bat. I like the process of elimination. That’s one of my favorite ways to operate is when you’ve got a lot of options out there, just start eliminating everything that you can. so that you can get it down to a more manageable number of options.
And then once you’ve done that, then you can go and visit some of those options. I would not just decide, okay, this is the area for me. You need to have something to compare it with. Now maybe you’re a well-traveled person, maybe you’ve lived in various parts of the country before, so it may not be as necessary for you, but I do recommend that you look at multiple areas before you settle on one area and start committing resources into that.
Renting First In A New Area
So what about once you’ve figured out what area you wanna go to, do we have any suggestions surrounding the best way to make sure that you don’t end up buying the wrong property? Because you could very easily be in the right area with the wrong property. Very true. So one of the things that we highly recommend is to be in the general area. If you already live in the area where you want to buy your country property, that’s perfect. You’re only going to be moving maybe 10 miles out of town or 20 miles out of town. You already know the lay of the land. And you can go out and have weekend excursions into different areas and get a feel for the community and who’s there. in all of that.
But if you’re moving farther out, you’re moving to a new state, you’re moving to a new area of the country, we highly recommend that you rent first. There are so many reasons why renting first is the best choice. For instance, I mentioned that couple earlier. They weren’t wanting to buy in their area, they were buying something that was sight unseen. And they asked us, “What do you think?” And that one little thing was a deal breaker for them. They access. And so if they had been here in the area, they would have already known that that area was already known for being kind of craggy and difficult to get to. If your boots are on the ground, then you know the area. You know the microclimates. If it’s a mountainous area, you get to know the people. You have your ear to the track, where if you have a mountain, you know the area. somebody talking about, yeah, my uncle’s wanting to sell this property that’s down the road or something. That’s really valuable. And you want to rent there during the hardest season, whatever that is. If you’re looking in the North Country, then you want to spend a winter there and see what it’s really like. If you’re looking in the desert or something like that, then you’re going to want to spend a summer there and see what it’s like to be there in the hardest season. Yes, just networking is very, very effective for learning about a new area. And you can find good deals too that way that you would not find if you were long distance. That’s right. That’s right. So rent first. If you’re going to a whole new area, rent first.
Something we have seen time and again. People want to move up to our area and they’re really excited because they think this is the perfect area or something. And we’re just like, well, no, actually it’s not. It has its pros for sure, but it also has a lot of cons. And so just come and rent for a while while you look for your place. And we have seen people that came here and rented and they were like, you know, actually, I think I need to go south because it can be difficult in the winter for some people. Winters are not for everyone.
Another Option – An RV
And another option that I think is a very viable alternative to renting is an RV, right? That’s true you could get an RV and then park in an RV park somewhere or a campsite that allows RVs and Save a lot of money that way too, right? We actually went the RV route years ago and It actually worked out quite well because then we ended up living in that RV while we were building and it acted as a temporary home for us while we were building a rental. Yes, we could have rented while we were building, but then we would have been paying rent all that time. Whereas once we bought the property, we were able to pull the RV on there and live there while we were building. So there are some advantages to it. This also reminds me of an advantage we’ve already mentioned that happened in your experience. Because you were boots on the ground and you were here renting. You mentioned the other day that that property that you guys were looking at. It was out of your price range. You went back and looked at it later on and what happened? Yeah, the realtor took us the first time and then we went back on our own the second time. And while we were driving up, this old codger, old mountain man came walking down the road. And there was a real estate sign that was up. So he came over to our window and he said, And he said, I know what you can get it for. Just completely out of the blue. And he named a price that was like 50%, half, but they were asking. Which was what your budget originally was, close to what your budget was. And that gave us the courage to go ahead and make an offer like that. But it would not have happened if we had been talking to a realtor on the phone and not actually been there in person. Yes. So it’s a really, really important thing to do.
So, as I said, in an upcoming episode, we’re gonna dive into the details of what you wanna look for in a particular piece when you’re looking at it, things that you can check out remotely before you even go and visit the property, and all of that. So we’ll get into that, don’t worry. Right now we just wanted to focus on area and location. Location, location, location. Isn’t that what the realtors say? That’s right. And this actually takes us to our question of the week.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Our question of the week comes from a lady that emailed in not too long ago. She asked:
“How many acres do you have and how far are you from the nearest city or town?”
Very good question. So we have 10 acres and there is a reason for that. I don’t feel like that’s a set-in-stone number. It depends on a lot of variables and a lot of factors. 10 acres is a nice size of property. Because if you’re in an area that is wooded (which I certainly hope you are so that you can have a renewable source of heat), then it’s going to, you know, it depends upon how quickly trees grow and all of that sort of thing. But a general rule of thumb is that you want to have several acres of timberland to have a renewable source of heat. If you’re in an area where the trees grow really fast, then you might not need quite as much, but if you’re in an area where they grow more slowly, you might need a little more. But just kind of a general rule of thumb. So five acres for trees, for timber, and then you wanna have space. It’s gonna take up space on your property to have a house, the footprint of that house, and the yard. That’s gonna take some space. Also the driveway, any outbuildings you might have, and an orchard. All these kinds of things take up space.
Yeah, it reminds me of the verse that says, I don’t know if I’m gonna quote it right, but “Prepare thy work without, make it fit for thyself in the field, and afterwards build thine house.” Yes. So make sure you’ve got space on your property for a garden and an orchard, it takes space. And all of that is assuming that it’s flat workable land. Yes. If it’s the side of a hill with a little bench, then you’ve got much less land to work with. So once again, all kinds of variables there, but I do like 10 acres as a general rule of thumb. If I could have 20, would I have it? You better believe it. In fact, we’d love to get a hold of the 10 acres that are next to us. And that would be great. But the point here is that… more land opens up more options, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it with less. I would much rather be on one acre in the country than be in a great big huge apartment in town. Yes. And so, you know, you can even one acre, you can do so much with it with a garden. You can do, if you intensively garden and learn how to do it, you can do so much with even a relatively small garden. It’s amazing. It’s true. So you don’t have to have a ton of land, but it just gives you more options, is what I’m trying to say.
Yes, so the other half of her question was, how far are we from the nearest city or town? So this nearest city would be about an hour’s drive away, but we actually have a little town that’s only half an hour’s drive away. It has a gas station, a very small grocery store, a little hardware store, and a few other things. It’s convenient for a few things, but most of our shopping, socializing, and our church mailbox are all an hour away. Yep. Everybody’s speaking from their personal experience. And so you may notice in this episode and in coming episodes that we do bring up the issue of distance from town and to think about this. Because this is the perspective that we’re coming from, is that it’s a two-hour drive anytime we go to the larger town near us. And so that’s where we’re coming from.
Now, on the other hand, you may be coming from the perspective of a lot of folks that we run into. I can’t tell you how many folks have told us that when they moved out, they wished that they had moved further, because they were used to living in town, in the city, and… all that they could wrap their brains around was this place that was 10 minutes out of town or whatever. And after having lived there a couple of years, they really wished that they had gone further and some of them even sold and made a second move. And maybe that works, maybe that was the best for them. Maybe if they had moved out further to begin with, it would not have been a good experience. So there’s nothing wrong with doing a sequential set of moves, but you just have to realize that you gotta do what’s right for you at that time and see what you can find. And I would say from our experience, ask God to lead you to the right place because there are a lot of good options out there, but he’s able to close the doors. I’m a strong believer in asking God to close doors if something is a bad place to keep you from making a big mistake. That’s right, that’s right.
So that was our question of the week. And just a reminder, we would love for you to send in your questions. If you have any that you would like for us to cover here on the show, please send it into:
And we will be delighted to get that from you and consider putting it here on the show so we can cover what you’re needing to know. That’s right. Anyhow. We’d like to thank you for joining us on the episode this week. We hope it was helpful and useful to you. And we’ve got much more to come, so be sure and subscribe so that you’re notified of any future episodes. We’ll see you then.