Dec 17, 2019

7 Essential Things to Consider Before Buying a Rural Home

Country Home in Snow

The benefits of living in the countryside seem endless. Peace and quiet, less light, air and noise pollution. Stunning views, wildlife and a chance to do more with your property.

We were recently visiting friends the other night who’s home sits atop the Niagara Escarpment in Pelham. During an early evening stroll through their property, we saw a family of whitetail deer run through the wooded section of their property – just lovely!

Here are 7 things you should consider before making the move to a rural home.

1.  Your Plans For The Property.

Do you hope to raise animals on the property? Build a small barn or large storage facility? Make sure to check with your municipality that you can go ahead with these plans BEFORE you buy the home.

The two most common restricting forces you could run into when wanting to make changes have to do with zoning and conservation.

a) Zoning by-laws

Existing zoning and zoning by-laws place by municipalities can have an impact on:

  • How you use your land
  • What type of structures you can have on the property
  • Where structures are placed on the property
  • Specific use restrictions (e.g. size of your property and the number of livestock animals you can keep there)

b) Conservation Authorities, or the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry

These authorities can also have an impact on what you do with and on your property. Especially as country homes are oftentimes located in protected areas (like the GreenBelt). Restrictions might be anything from what you build on your property, the animals you keep to restrictions on cutting down or altering trees.

2.  How Far Away is Too Far?

You’ll definitely want to consider how far away from your current home is too far! Having to make a 10+ minute drive back into town because you forgot to buy milk might not sound too bad but after it happens a few times, it can get frustrating.

Being that much further away from friends may mean you don’t see them as often as you did before. And going out for dinner can feel like a task when you have a 20-minute drive back home.

If the school bus doesn’t have a route passed your new home you may have to drive your kids to a spot that the bus does come to or drive them into school altogether.

Although, in our opinion, the benefits of living in a rural home completely outweigh the concerns of being too far.

Nowadays it is also possible to buy a country home that is not too far away from all the amenities you might love about city life. It all just depends on you and the lifestyle you prefer.

3.  Types of Utility Systems

Septic System

You can find country homes on the outskirts of town that are connected to local municipalities – making the transition from city to country living a breeze.

However, the majority of countryside or rural homes on the market today have some sort of utility system that you don’t see in town.

In short, drinking water systems often come from wells or cisterns. Your sewer system is often a septic system with some sort of absorption or leaching bed. Heat can be produced by propane, occasionally electric or an oil type system as well.

For more information on these types of systems, you can read this article here.

4.  Living Next To Operating Farms

Farm Operations Hay Field

Often times living in the countryside is glamorized by large manicured lots with grand estates, where the neighbouring farm has cows dotting the hillside, an adorable little farmhouse and red barn that tie it all together. Don’t get me wrong, with the right budget we can probably find this for you but sometimes living near operating farms can take some getting used to if you have always lived in the city.

A few years ago we kept our horses at a barn in Wainfleet and right next door was a farmer’s field. Every summer the farmer would fertilize his field with a very (VERY!) pungent-smelling fertilizer. It was chicken manure fertilizer.  I spent a lot of time on a dairy farm with my best friend growing up, I can handle animals smells of all kinds but this would definitely take some getting used to.

You might be changing the sounds of traffic and fire trucks for machinery operating in the early hours of the morning and more dust. Most people are fine with this but occasionally some are not.

I only bring this up as a point because we have heard a few stories of people being unhappy living beside a farm and have tried to make complaints against the farmer (silly I know). Farmers are an integral part of our community and we always want to make sure our clients know what they are getting into before we make an offer.

5.  Road Accessibility

It is a good idea to look into how accessible the road getting your property is year-round. 

This typically won’t be a problem if you live close enough to town but it is not uncommon to find that rural roads may not be plowed in the winter by the municipality or if they are, they are plowed last.

In more rural settings, sometimes private companies are contracted out to plow these roads for you, with the neighbours who live on the same road often sharing this cost.   Sometimes the road can remain unplowed for days depending on the amount of snowfall and getting down your road could be a real challenge.  

If you can’t get down your road the school bus can’t either which means kids may have more snow days in the year; I am sure they won’t mind this, but it is something you will have to plan for.

6.  Having the Right Maintenance Equipment

For those winter months you may need a snowblower if you’re on a big lot with a relatively normal-sized driveway, but if your driveway is two hundred feet long or more, having a tractor with a plow might be an essential piece of equipment to purchase. 

For the spring, summer and fall months you may need a riding lawnmower, or possibly a tractor with a bush hog to cut the grass.

Hiring someone to plow your drive or mow your lawn is also an option.  

Snow Driveway Country Living

7. Is the Country Lifestyle For You and Your Family?

For some people buying a country home means more space and a chance to use the land by either keeping a few animals like chickens, goats, more dogs and so on. Others have the idea of growing their own fruits and vegetables in an aim to become more self-sufficient. Others simply want a bigger house, a bigger property and more privacy.

We like to make sure that, no matter what reasons our clients have for wanting a more rural lifestyle, they know what they are getting into.

Definitely consider why you think this lifestyle is for you. If you enjoy the nightlife or dining out every night and the buzz of a busy city then no, rural or country living may not be your thing.

Living on a large acreage will be work on some days, and the reality of living the countryside dream might not be as romantic as once thought.  All of this said, most people considering this lifestyle are not going to mind the extra work and are likely to find it gratifying and worth it.

If you are considering buying a country home, we, and many others, recommend downloading our FREE Country Home Real Estate Guide.

JP Gulbis

Written By: John Paul Gulbis



Read our FREE annual reports and buying guides here!

2022 Rural Home Report

You May Also Like…