Happy New Year!! It’s going to be a great one because I refuse to let anything outside my home get me down! My main purpose of beginning this blog was to share my experiences making the move from the city to the country. When we moved, it was because an opportunity came to us with a financial benefit that we had only dreamed would ever be available to us. We wanted our dream so bad that we overlooked some serious issues with the property and terms that were not to our benefit but to the sellers it ended up being a boon. Here are five things that you need to organize first – and included in that organization is dedicating yourself to reviewing what you put together so that everyone is still on the same page. Here we go!
Financial Records– The best part about this is that since we just finished a year, not only are you starting fresh, you are in the best position to gather all of last year’s records because now it’s time to get ready for tax season. Review W2’s, deposit accounts, stock portfolios and investments so that you can see what is working well for you and what you might have to reallocate. Budgeting is an important factor when it comes to making your move. Speaking of budgeting, I will share with you this month how I keep track of my bills and set up a realistic savings plan. Be sure to follow my page to get the notification when I post it.
Utility Accounts– If you know what area you are moving to, you need to acquaint yourself with what utility companies are available out there. When you toured the property, and I hope you have visited more than a handful of times, you should have been made aware if you are on well water, propane use, electric companies that service your area as well as cable and internet providers. In our first property, we were drawing from a well. What I should have checked was the TASTE of the water as well as checked the faucets and sinks to see if there were mineralization deposits forming. The well did have a filtration system but along with that the water heaters were so corroded that the water smelled bad. And I didn’t know that until it was too late and my showers smelled like sulfur, aka rotten eggs. Gross. Another thing- in our new property that I love, after tasting the water, which was great, I didn’t think to ask about internet. Cable I knew was available because there were satellite dishes on the roof but we had trouble getting internet. Not a deal breaker, but it has been a heart breaker for me and we had to find a work around for it. Propane tanks need to be checked that they are in good working order- you need to find a provider and ask how much propane would handle a family of your size. I did not know that our well water needed electricity to function so when we had the power go out (which it did a couple of times in the Summer) we were not able to use water to wash or to flush toilets. Prepare yourself for this possibility.
Utility 2.0 aka Sewer and Garbage- You must be aware if your property is within city limits or county. When you set up your garbage pickup they will ask you for your address, duh, so that they can determine who your provider is. Just driving in your neighborhood will give you an idea as to who the main garbage company is servicing your area. Also, be aware that in the city you might have had garbage service twice a week as well as a recycling day. Out in the country pick up is usually only once a week, so if you have a large family and/or are massive consumers and creators of waste then you might want to invest in two garbage bins. Incidentally you’re going to find once you make the transition to the country that your consumption and waste levels are going to decrease. You use less packaged food once you get your garden going and you find that the simpler things in life are things you make or repair rather than constantly replacing. It’s good for you and the environment all around. Regarding the sewer, and this may be something that you might have experienced in the city, if you are not set up to the city sewage lines you will be dependent on a septic tank. I used to have a fear/dread of dealing with a septic tank only because I have heard so many horror/comedy stories about the pitfalls. In my two years of dealing with a bad country home purchase I find myself to have become quite knowledgeable about this subject. For example, not only do you need to know where your tank is for servicing, you also need to know where the drain field is. The reason for this is because if you are on a large property, you’re going to want to make sure that you don’t have heavy equipment like tractors or dump trucks driving over it potentially damaging the pipes that drain the liquids from your septic tank. Another thing I learned the hard way was making sure that the draining field is doing a good job- is it in an ideal location where it can actually drain? Our first year we experienced severe rains day after day for almost three weeks and it caused our field to flood and our septic tank started to back up and our water in the showers and the toilets were bubbling and draining slow. It was a cleaning nightmare. Most newer properties should have a new septic tank that can manage an average size family with pumping the solid matter perhaps every three years. I should have asked when was the last time the family had their septic tank pumped because they were a family of 12!!!! Never assume that people upgrade or keep up with stuff that makes sense to you. Not everyone does so ask, ask, ask.
Storage- Now is the time to determine if you want to keep the extra living room set, get new beds for your kids or sell the extra heavy work desks you inherited from your last job. Furniture needs and wants should be evaluated and discussed with a thought to future use. Are your kids young? Will they be growing out of their beds quickly? If you needed to, can either of you make a bed frame if you had the tools, supplies or inclination? Would you want to build yourself your own bookshelf of would you rather go to Wal Mart or Ikea to get one that was pre-made? Sometimes when you live in the city it isn’t so easy having the space to build things. My husband has been slowly building his workshop, the garage was always his pride and joy in every home we have moved into. He always assessed the garage walls, and if needed he built shelves to store items that we needed to have out of sight. In the city it isn’t always easy to manage storage and many garages don’t house cars, they house Christmas decorations, extra furniture, old text books, bins of old clothes and broken lamps. Now is the best time to purge of what isn’t needed that can be donated or sold. I highly recommend reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I listened to the audio book last year about a month before I even had an inkling that we would be moving out of the country nightmare and I was so motivated that I finished the book the very same day. We were overloaded with unnecessary items that we were afraid to get rid of. We had clothes that still had tags on them that had never been worn, we had tons of items that didn’t work and for one reason or another we hadn’t gotten around to repairing. We were (and in some ways, we still are) crazy consumers. We really bought into the more is better mindset and it was stopping us from achieving the little things that would have moved our family forward. So, get real with yourself and start thinking about what you have saved and why, especially if you are the person in charge of getting everything packed.
Your Kids and Pets- What do you mean, organize my kids and pets? How is that even possible? Well, it’s very possible and is so necessary that I probably should have made this the #1 thing to start with. Kids are malleable, that is to say you can gradually get them flexible enough to learn new things and they might even be excited about change. Teens, are a completely different animal. When we first moved to the country I had a new high school graduate and twins that were starting their sophomore year. They were not happy. But the graduate was independent, ready to move on and make their own life? Uh, yeah no. And they all aren’t like that. Some kids know that they are leaving for college or the military and it’s not a big deal if you move. There are others who are still trying to figure out just what they want to do with their life. We are not big pushers on creating more debt. If you are honest with yourself that is what college tuition loans can be if you don’t have a strong idea on what you want to do. Therefore, we urged our son to really think through what his aspirations were in life prior to committing to loans. He hated the country, still hates it to this very day, and he took every opportunity to highlight everything that was wrong with living and working a property that had water problems, animal or pest issues and was basically a backwards and stone age type of living. Get your kids on the same page with you and get their buy in on what the move means to them. The move might allow them the chance to play outside more, ride their bikes without fear of getting run over or it might be the promise of being allowed to build their own fort/clubhouse/treehouse. One positive thing I can say about the first property that had 10 kids that had grown up on it was that the trees had steps built into them. There was a treehouse platform and a swing that went out over the creek in the back. The property was well explored and with enough imagination, there were hundreds of worlds ready to be created out there. We had access to a horse in our first property which my daughter loved to pet and visit with. We also were able to let her have a cat for the first time since we blended our families and that was really the selling point for her which brings me to the next part of this bullet point. Your pets need to be safe and thriving in this new environment. My dogs are city slicker type canines. I have yorkies while my husband corrals a Rottweiler/German Shephard mix of a dopey dog. You must be up to date on their immunizations as well as a strong flea preventative course that you can stay committed to. My yorkies suffered horribly after the move because of the fleas and I almost fainted when I found a tick on my tiny pup’s forehead right in the middle like a beauty jewel. It isn’t always just a let the dogs out and explore on their own scenario. My yorkies could not be outside unattended because our property was surrounded by wild animals and large birds of prey that have no problem lifting a 4lb dog up and away to their nests half a mile away. We also had pigs that we were raising and my poor Edmund thought he was a herding dog and would snap at them to get them in line but they could have easily crushed him with their fat hog hooves. Neighborhood dogs can sometimes run wild and they don’t take kindly to know it all city slicker dogs with Napoleon complexes. Tucker didn’t have it easy all the time either. Sure, he had a pond that he swam in whenever he wanted to and animals to chase but he was also on the losing end of an encounter with a skunk, something he had never met and I’m sure he will never want to meet again. There are poisonous plants, vicious wild animals and irritating pests that your pets will encounter. You need to have a plan on how you will get that taken care of when you make your move out to the country. Ps. My daughter’s cat was oblivious to mice and snakes and was ZERO assistance for use when we really needed him, but that’s for another blog post.
So hopefully this can give you a starting point for you to assess what you have now and what you need to think about in the coming months while you dream about your home in the country. They were scary and gross but truthful, and that was just the part about the teens. What do you think you should organize before you make your move to the country? Why don’t you drop me a line at SoFarmish (@) gmail dot com and comment below. I’d love to hear the challenges that you might encounter and maybe we can brainstorm a solution?